Thirty-one years in public education has taught Larry Bull the value of being a lifelong learner.
"When you're in education, it's always valuable to keep picking up new skills," said Bull, who's served as the Cherry Creek School District's Director of Athletics and Activities for more than a decade. "It's great to keep learning."
Bull has recently proven his commitment to continuing education by earning the title of Certified Athletic Director from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. According to the NIAAA, this distinction proves that Bull "has demonstrated the highest level of knowledge and expertise in the field of interscholastic athletic administration."
To earn the title, Bull completed a diverse set of classes that covered subjects ranging from the legal implications of athletics and activities in public schools to the philosophic components of the job. Bull also passed an exam in order to receive the qualification. He studied teamwork, issues around Title IX legislation and the general management of athletics and activities in a large school district.
"It was pretty comprehensive," Bull said, adding that the new title will offer opportunities to share ideas and feedback with other professionals from across the country. "There's a whole network attached to the organization. Just being a member of that association pays off. They also offer classes and access to national conferences.
"I'll be able to learn about issues and communicate with other professionals from across the country," Bull added.
This work isn't new to Bull, who started his career in education more than 30 years ago. He started in CCSD as a Special Education teacher at Eaglecrest High School before moving to posts as a school dean, athletic director and assistant principal. Most recently, serving as Director of Athletics and Activities for the past 11 years has offered Bull a rewarding, engaging and inspiring line of work.
"The benefits that our students gain from education-based athletics and activities are amazing," Bull said. "The lessons learned on the field, in the court and in the theater benefit our kids. I really enjoy seeing our kids succeed – they get excited and learn about overcoming adversity and coming together as a team."
In his role as director, Bull helps oversee a vast network of activities and athletics that positively impacts thousands of students. Research shows that students who are involved in extracurricular programs have fewer unexcused absences, do better in school, score higher on standardized tests and are more likely to earn a college degree than students who don't take part in activities and athletics.
Typically, 75 to 80 percent of middle school students participate in middle school activities, athletics or both. Four sports are offered at the middle school level: track and field, volleyball, basketball and wrestling.
At the high school level, 60 to 75 percent of students participate in one or more activity. Those sponsored by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) are marching band, orchestra, student council, vocal music and speech and debate. Activities sponsored by the district include pep band, jazz band, drama, musicals, newspaper, yearbook, DECA, FBLA, service clubs and more than two dozen special interest clubs. Each year, several hundred district students qualify for All State honors and state and national competitions in many of these activities.
Between 50 and 65 percent of students participate in sports at the high school level: baseball, basketball, cheers, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, pom pons, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Skiing is the only one of the 23 CHSAA-sanctioned sports not offered by the district.
Bull said that earning the NIAAA's title of Certified Athletic Director is simply a step in making sure that all students continue to have access to these diverse and stimulating routes to enrichment, growth and physical fitness during all of their years in the district.
"You see a daily improvement with kids, and the opportunities our students have inside our district is amazing," Bull said. "They really get a chance to flourish with activities and athletics – that's the best part of my job."