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El Paso County Colorado District 49

From the CEO – Connecting to a new year

One of my favorite moments in education is seeing graduated students who come back to reconnect with teachers and friends. Those reunions are sometimes awkward and always energetic, but the overwhelming sentiment is gratitude. Our students are grateful for the lessons and learning, but after all the homework grades and test results fade from memory, the relationship remains, and thatís what draws them back.Sometimes, in an era of abundant assessments and statistical analysis, itís easy to lose track of how hard our teachers work at growing our students. Iíve had the privilege of sitting in this year on dozens of staff meetings and professional sessions, where teachers and other educators work to do the best for our children. They analyze data, evaluate options, collaborate freely, and model persistence in helping every student succeed.In District 49, we have made primary literacy one of our top priorities because the basic tools of language are a root system for all the learning to come. But we also care about the harvest and application of mature learning. Thatís why our focus on primary literacy is paired with a commitment to set every student on one of our 49 Pathways to success in whatever future they choose. I am inspired by the educators at all our schools who relentlessly invest their hearts and heads in the future of our students.As we celebrate each other and resolve to a brighter new year, pause a moment and remember the schools and educators who serve us all. Every year brings a new set of challenges and a fresh crop of students, but the challenges this year are more numerous than ever. Across our elementary schools, we are working with the first round of PARCC scores, Beacon testing, new curricula for math and reading, and technical intervention programs like Burst, Lexia, Sonday, SIPPS, and beyond. At high schools, we have new devices, more new tests, higher expectations, shifting graduation requirements, and a fresh announcement from the Colorado Department of Education that our state will transition from the ACT to a combination of the PSAT and SAT tests from the College Board. Many of our teachers speak of being in the ìfirst yearî of new programs, but I would like us to think of these developments as a ìYear Zero.î In year zero we unpack new curricula, take new tests, configure new schedules and adjust to new expectations. We make mistakes, regain our bearings, and redouble our efforts to get it right. In year one, we start to see the benefits of new approaches and in the years beyond we reap the benefits of our early efforts.All across District 49, we are living through year zero. Our principals and paraprofessionals are figuring out what kinds of support our classrooms need and how to provide it. The work is harder than it seems, but the reward is well worth it. This spring, another crop of seniors will step off a stage and into hundreds of individual futures. Please join me in recognition and gratitude for the dedicated educators that cultivate those futures for us all.May you and your family deeply enjoy each other and celebrate the coming new year.

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