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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Climbing to the peak

Faint grays and yellows colored the eastern sky as 49 climbers from across the district gathered on July 18. Before dawn, teams boarded buses and arrived at the trailhead for a 13-mile hike up Pikes Peak. By the time the sun was up, the leading teams were pushing into Barr Camp and preparing for the march to tree line.Some teams arrived by noon, while others adjusted their pace and kept climbing until late afternoon. Each team kept a different schedule, and every climber had a personal strategy, but 49 climbers stepped onto the trail in the morning, and 49 climbers stepped onto the summit by the end of the day.The teachers, administrators, support staff, maintenance leads and operations experts who tackled Pikes Peak were there to represent the commitment and effort we are making in District 49. After several years of excellent board leadership and improving results across the board, our district is positioned to make a climb to excellence. Our innovation efforts are maturing; our schools and zones are expanding programs; and our staff members are increasingly delivering the effective and efficient services our community expects. Our vision is for District 49 to be the best choice, and our mission is to learn, work and lead relentlessly until our vision becomes reality. We firmly believe that delivering excellent results in our community will result in fulfilling our vision and mission.So, instead of feeling satisfied that our performance has improved, weíre committing to use our effective and efficient performance as a springboard to reach for excellence. Over the last two years, District 49 has been studying excellent organizations in health care, financial industries, nonprofit services, and especially K-12 education. We have started using state and national leaders as benchmarks to evaluate our own performance. We have joined with some of those organizations to conduct thorough reviews of our performance to identify organizational strengths, along with opportunities for improvement.Our commitment to continuous improvement targets one major outcome ó performance excellence. Our district has many instances of excellence as evidenced by widespread recognition for our teachers and specialists ó many receiving recognition as Coloradoís exemplars. The Colorado School Psychologist of the Year (Kim Boyd), Assistant Principal of the Year (Angela Prochnow), Reading Educator of the Year (Linda Bason), Biology Teacher of the Year (Robin Walters), Online/Blended Counselor of the Year (Dale Bonavita), Health Sciences Advisor of the Year (Connie Michaels-Lipp), and Online Teacher of the Year (Jill Pellegrini) are all members of the District 49 family. So, when we commit to performance excellence, we already have a team of role models to inspire us all.But inspiration will not be enough. We are redoubling our efforts to live by our cultural compass, treating each other with respect, care, accountability and transparency while we treat our work with creativity, innovation, learning and strategic purpose. These eight characteristics are the culture that defines us and has consistently attracted high-performing veterans and high-promise newcomers to our district. Having just completed one of the most successful hiring seasons in our history, we have fresh energy and new teammates to serve our growing community.The work we will do together is as difficult as climbing Pikes Peak, but a lot more rewarding. By focusing on our five strategic priorities, we will make sure our efforts to improve are aligned to each other and serve our community. 1) By demonstrating transparency and honesty, we aim to maintain the trust weíre earning from our community. 2) By inviting leaders and citizens into our schools and onto our advisory teams, we fulfill our strategic commitment to deeper community engagement. 3) By opening new schools, including a vocational early college, an online early college; and expanding the programs we offer at all our schools; we continue to grow the robust portfolio of schools that now attracts more students of choice than any district in our region. 4) By continuing our efforts to improve primary literacy, we are building the firm foundations that our students need and their parents expect. Although we have room to keep improving, our elementary educators received the highest praise from our state department of education when they observed that D 49ís system is delivering improvements well above the average. They even told our board that the pace of improvement in District 49 is an example for the rest of Colorado. And, finally, 5) by expanding our system of individual success plans for all secondary students, we fulfill our commitment to launch every student to success. Whether they keep learning in college, begin serving in our military, answer a call to ministry, start and lead a family or begin contributing in the workforce, we want the graduates of District 49 to have the same level of success our climbers had on Pikes Peak.It is incredibly gratifying to be part of a district where excellence is more than a buzzword, itís a commitment. We know our students and staff have the capacity to climb together and become a role model district. Our commitment is to equip and encourage the entire family of District 49 so that we can all step onto the summit of top tier performance. Just as 49 climbers did in the middle of July, we will keep the peak in view, focus on our goal and get to the summit for our students. Itís a big mountain we want to climb, but we have a great vision and growing capacity to reach the peak. We invite you to step on the trail and start ascending, as we take our students to the peak of performance.

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