Summer is always a busy time. It is busy for parents and for our school district. Parents are working, providing for their families and watching over their kids as they explore summer camp, reading camp, summer school, regular camping and just playing around the neighborhood. I know my mom and dad were always ready for school to start after a busy and hectic summer of freedom (for my siblings and me, not for them). My siblings and all the neighborhood kids that gathered at my childhood home kept my parents busy!
Our educators and staff are working hard to prepare for the return of students. It is nonstop! Schools are working on deferred maintenance — the kind that can’t be done with students in the building. We are replacing the roof at Sand Creek High School; completing the addition at Bennet Ranch Elementary; and continuing construction on the new transportation center. We are also in the design phase of a new addition at Vista Ridge High School that will add another 32,000 square feet. Our grounds teams are busy getting grass mowed and rebuilding and reinforcing berms that have eroded because of all the rain.
Everything our teams do is important. One is to hiring the right professionals. Our leadership works hard to make sure we have highly professional and effective teams at all levels. Dustin Horras, the Sand Creek Zone superintendent, focused on hiring quality and highly effective staff. “I just finished hiring three principals — that was my primary focus and concern — getting good leaders on board. I think hiring is most important for any leader going into a new year,” he said. Horras is developing a Zone Instructional Framework so they have consistent, non-negotiable expectations for instruction in each classroom throughout the Zone. There will be zone frameworks, professional development, Dibels 8 training, other new assessment training for elementary schools and training on the newest math curriculum.
Theresa Ritz, Power Zone superintendent, tells me they are “launching our year with a welcome back and strategic planning learning retreat for all PZ administrators and instructional coaches, with a focus on our zone objectives, initiatives and success criteria.” This sets the focus and makes sure expectations are set and understood. Educators will have professional development in Marzano’s High Reliability Schools work and the new Art and Science of Teaching instructional framework. Capturing Kids’ Hearts training is scheduled for new teacher hires in July and 7-Steps to a Language Rich Interactive Environment in September. Math curriculum training for the new Savvas Envision secondary curriculum and the I-Ready elementary math curriculum will also take place.
Teachers always start the week before the first day of students. They have to prepare classrooms and lesson plans. Many teachers come in earlier on their own time to set up classrooms and ensure they are perfect for students. New teachers receive training on policies and procedures.
Teachers in the Falcon Zone have attended the Modern Teacher’s standards protocol and writing lesson plans that will fit with Modern Teacher as well as the new reading curriculum. One of our fabulous educators from Woodmen Hills Elementary said, “We’re pretty organized, but with all the open houses and everything else that comes with the wonderful start of a new school year. I like to hit the ground completely ready.” They all do!
Schools are busy with new staff. They are set up with materials, walked through curriculum maps, common assessments, team expectations, training on how to use Google Drive, Google Classroom and an introduction to Schoology and Power School. Additional programs such as Sand Creek Zone’s John Hatti Visible Learning “Learning Intentions and Success Criteria” is also used for online presence and transparency. Teachers are required to maintain an online presence for our classes.
Many educators are developing new courses over the summer for next year. This is happening all throughout our district operated and charter schools. Some people have often wondered why educators do this on their own time and the answer is their love of children, teaching and simply because they are professionals!
D 49 is busy! There is a lot going on to ensure that schools are safe and classrooms are ready for students. I am proud of the efforts of all our professionals in the field, in the classroom and those that support! D 49 truly is the best choice to learn, work, and lead!