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El Paso County Colorado District 49

New principal at Meridian Ranch Elementary

Erica Mason, former Falcon School District 49 elementary specialist, will greet Meridian Ranch Elementary School students as their new principal when school begins in August.Mason’s career in education includes five years as a classroom teacher and two years in the D 49 central office. This is her first position as a principal, and she said she is looking forward to working directly with teachers, staff and students. “I came into education to be with teachers and kids; I missed the kids,” Mason said.MRES first opened in August 2004 with 250 students and a building half its current size. Today, the school has new gym floors, a cafeteria, a library and computer lab and 650 students, along with 25 classroom teachers and five specialists, expected this fall.Mason is the sixth principal, including one interim. She said her first goal as principal is to bring greater consistency to the administrative department. The excellent teaching staff and assistant principal have kept the school going through all the changes in principals, she said.Another priority of Mason’s is improving MRES test scores. “They’ve seen scores drop in the last few years,” she said. “A big focus for us will be to really pull up our reading scores.”She plans to conduct staff training and implement tips she learned at a literacy conference she recently attended. “All of the teachers are doing a really good job with reading. The new ideas will provide a framework for them to track their instruction better and make sure we’re hitting all the skills,” Mason said.Communication is another priority.”Whenever there are issues, complaints or concerns, it comes down to a lack of communication – somebody misunderstood or was misinformed. Our goal is to over-communicate,” Mason said. She would like to communicate more through the Internet and e-mail to cut down on paper waste, implementing more green initiatives along the way.Mason has already begun reaching out to parents and students. The school planned to hold a meet and greet at the Meridian Ranch swimming pool late in July. Mason is working with the MRES Parent Teacher Association as well.”We have two wonderful (PTA) co-presidents. What is wonderful is they both have some education background and they are very passionate,” she said. “They are amazing. I cannot believe the amount of effort they put in to organizing and planning.”As MRES prepares for an International Baccalaureate authorization, Mason said the co-presidents have sat down together and posed tough questions on behalf of the students and parents.”We’ve sat down and had meetings with them about how we are going to cover all the standards with the IB program,” she said. Mason said IB teaches a global perspective and takes learning beyond a teacher’s skill sets. “It makes sure we are teaching kids how to learn, how to be thinkers and how to interact in society,” she said.Mason encourages all parents at the school to become involved in their child’s education. “Don’t be afraid to come in and ask questions,” she said. She also said parents can help by reinforcing behaviors, curriculum and reading at home.”We need parents and schools to be partners. Trust makes a true partnership. Parents need to trust us and we need to trust parents,” Mason said. “Know that as teachers we want your child to succeed and we want what’s best for them, just as they do.”Liz Simon-Eikanger, MRES PTA co-president, said she is looking forward to working with Mason and is impressed with her organizational skills and enthusiasm.She is also looking forward to consistency within the school administration. “We all have very high hopes that she will stay as our principal for many years to come, as she has been in D 49 for some time and lives in this area, with kids in this district,” Simon-Eikanger said.

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