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Editor’s note: School classes in Rangely started this week. Rangely Junior/Senior High classes started Monday, while classes at Parkview Elementary started Wednesday.
In anticipation of the beginning of a new school year, second-year Superintendent Barry Williams answered a few questions.
Question: How important is staff stability to the district and to students?
Answer: For academic achievement and student growth, the Rangely School District must retain excellent teachers. The goal of retention efforts should not be creating a “lifetime” teacher, but reframing retention in smaller increments geared to teachers’ growth trajectory.
Strong support in the first two years is crucial. But it’s the period right after induction that is often ignored. We are exploring set goals for getting more teachers to year five, and then a subset of those to year 10. Countless students might benefit if we actively pursue the promising two-year teacher into a five- or 10-year teacher.
Some examples of our strategies for this post-induction phase have been met and are being discussed:
A teacher evaluation committee has improved teacher evaluation to facilitate continuous growth, reward excellence, and identify top performers The new evaluation instrument will give teachers more information on whether they are making a difference to student learning by establishing goals and benchmarks on the path to mastery that will embed new challenges and purpose in their work.
The four-day school week will expand opportunities for teachers to work in effective grade-level teams. The four-day school week will provide options to become involved in instructional leadership within the school.
Q: You’ve been through your first year, how do you feel about things as you begin your second year here and your personal comfort level in acclimating to the job, the community, etc.?
A: I know I am lucky enough to be one of those people who get to do what they love for a living. I am excited every day to go to work and focus all of my efforts on making a positive impact on teaching and student learning. I love working with dedicated educators and school board members who have the same goals and collaborative mindset to always do what is best for students. The job isn’t always easy, but tough decisions are always worth it for the benefit of the students.
We have made many accomplishments and achievements in the past year. As we move forward into a new school year, the following are our goals:
We will ensure our students progress — To do so, we will recognize that all students have unique learning needs.
This includes ensuring that the all learners’ needs are met as well as the special education and gifted learners.
We will have high expectations combined with the necessary supports for all students, faculty and staff.
Examples of actions include: Ensuring that all students are exposed to challenging curricula and engaging instruction and faculty/staff roles are aligned to student needs.
We will help all students graduate — To do so, we will know students by name and where they are in their progress toward graduation, and design opportunities to ensure they do graduate.
Examples of actions include: Creating and maintaining a platform that enables us to monitor student achievement, student engagement, and other indicators of student progress, supporting initiatives that target specific student needs, and allowing flexible individualized student plan.
We will prepare each student to be productive in the 21st century — To do so, we will continue to integrate technology as a natural part of classroom instruction and learning. To develop improved media literacy skills, students will access and critique information.
Examples include the continued funding of technology, being open to opportunities for greater technology (multi-platform) solutions, and continued support of the necessary staffing to support our initiatives.
We will partner with the community to ensure that we will meet our goals by focusing our efforts and available resources — To do so, we will be purposeful and committed to creating partnerships with our community.
We will seek to instill confidence in our school system by providing thoughtful and measured leadership.
We will strengthen our public outreach by listening and including all of the various voices of our community. — Examples include strengthening our relationships with our post secondary institution and recognizing the tremendous resources available within our own community. Within this process, we will remain good stewards of finite public resources.
Q: Where are things in the discussions with Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District about taking over the schools sports programs?
A: The school district and the parks and recreation center are in the process of developing a feasibility study. A feasibility study is simply an analysis of the viability of an idea. The feasibility study will focus on helping answer the essential question of “should we proceed with the proposed idea of the recreation center taking over the sports programs.” All components of the study will be directed toward helping answer this question with a presentation to the boards.
Q: Any plans for relocating the district office, or will the offices remain in the EEC building?
A: The building has a price tag and until an offer is made and accepted, the administrative offices will remain at the Early Education Center.