It may seem as though the summer just started, but for local school-age kids, it is nearing its end.
Next Wednesday, Aug. 22, middle and high school students enrolled in Eagle County Schools report back to school. On Aug. 22 and 23, Eagle County Schools elementary-age kids begin their testing appointments and their first day of classes is Friday, Aug. 24. Dozens of high school athletes are already at fall sports practice.
Eagle County Schools Communications Director Brooke Macke noted that the Eagle County Schools Calendar Committee - a group that includes one parent for each school receiving transportation services in addition to two teachers, a transportation department representatives, two principals and a school board member - completed more than 350 phone surveys and compiled more than 700 web surveys to develop the 2011-13 calendar.
"There will be 171 student contact days in the calendar, with a permanent reduction of three furlough days," said Macke "This allows for a full week off during Thanksgiving break, and 76 percent of respondents supported this."
Macke added that starting school earlier means the end of the second semester comes before the holiday break.
"The calendar will still include both the mid-winter break and spring break schedule with over 80 percent of the surveys in support of this scheduling," said Macke.
According to Macke, two of the biggest changes for Eagle County Schools this year involve transportation and school lunch.
"Transportation routes are moving to consolidated bus stops," she said. The 2012-13 bus route schedules can be found at the school district website - www.eagleschools.net. For some buildings, the changes mean fewer stops and for others, including Brush Creek Elementary School, transportation services are no longer offered.
The news on the school lunch side reflect a growing nationwide consciousness about healthy eating.
"In an effort to replace processed and unhealthy foods in lunchroom cafeterias, the Fresh Approach initiative will expand to all schools by incorporating self-serve, fresh fruit and vegetable bars in every single elementary, middle and high school," said Macke. "Chefs are being trained on scratch-cooking techniques and much more."
New leaders at downvalley schools include Eagle Valley Elementary Principal Tiffany Dougherty, Eagle Valley High School Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Tami Payne and interim Red Hill Elementary School Principal Harry McQueeney.
• Wednesday, Aug. 22
First day for middle and high school students
• Friday, Aug. 24
First day for elementary students
• Monday, Sept. 3
Labor Day holiday/No school
• Monday, Oct. 22
Teacher work day/No school for students
• Monday, Nov. 19 to Friday, Nov. 23
• Friday, Dec. 21to Sunday, Jan. 6
• Monday, Jan. 21
Martin Luther King Jr. Day/No School
• Monday, Feb. 18 to Friday, Feb. 22
• Monday, March 25
Teacher work Day/No school for students
• Monday, April 15 to Friday, April 19
• Monday, May 27
Memorial Day holiday/No school
• Friday, May 30
Last day of school
There are a couple new things at Eagle Valley Elementary School this year - a principal and a preschool program.
Tiffany Dougherty started her job as principal at the end of July and has worked for Eagle County Schools before.
"We love it here," she said. "We moved to back to Tennessee for a while to take care of my husband's parents. It's good to be able to come back."
Dougherty replaced Principal Monica Lammers.
"(Lammers) left her position to pursue a doctorate but she is still working with the district," Dougherty said.
Dougherty, 42, has worked in education for 18 years. Her three years as a school administrator started in Eagle County in 2008 as assistant principal at Brush Creek Elementary School. That was followed by a short stint at Avon Elementary School as interim principal. She has also taught kindergarten, second, seventh and eighth grades at various schools.
Since 2010, Dougherty has been the principal at Northwest Elementary School in Newport, Tenn., a prekindergarten through eighth grade school with 425 students.
"That's roughly twice as many students as Eagle Valley Elementary," she said. "We currently have 270 students enrolled but that number is going up by the day."
Part of the reason for the rising enrollment is the school's new preschool program. The tuition-based program was formerly the Red Table Early Learning Center in Gypsum.
"So now EVES is a prekindergarten through fifth grade school and there are still limited openings for preschool students," Dougherty said.
One of Dougherty's top goals as EVES principal is to grow the capacity of the International Baccalaureate World School program there. The school's status as an IB World School was approved in January 2011.
"It takes years of preparation for IB approval," Dougherty said. "This is the only school in the district with that status."
The IB program curriculum is in addition to the relatively new Common Core State Standards curriculum. The IB program is intended to help children become global citizens, with an awareness for cause-and-effect relationships throughout the world. The curriculum framework consists of five elements: concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes and action. The knowledge component is developed through inquiries into six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, supported and balanced by six subject areas.
"IB and the Common Core curricula are not opposed to each other but they are not the same," Dougherty said. "I want to learn more and I want the staff to learn more so we can better incorporate the two."
Part of the IB curriculum is a dual-language program. EVES already has dual-language programs for kindergarten and first grade but Dougherty aims to eventually have programs for every grade. The EVES dual-language programs involve English-speakers learning Spanish and vice versa.
Another goal of Dougherty's is to improve communication.
"Communication is always a goal," she said. "I don't think a parent feels like he or she knows everything that's going on at school. Papers don't always make it home. I want to make sure parents have as much information as possible so that they feel informed about their children's education."
Dougherty said she uses Twitter and Facebook to help achieve that.
"The ultimate goal for the school is the adult we want to achieve," she said.
Dougherty earned her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Tennessee after her first daughter was born.
"Having that first child, I realized that children really are the future, as corny as that sounds," she said. "I was reading to my baby daughter and thought about how other people might not be reading to their babies."
She wanted to make a real difference for the future. So she left her job as a receptionist at an advertising agency and went to college. After teaching for a while she became an Educational Specialist through Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.
"An Education Specialist degree is beyond a masters but not a doctoral," she said.
She and her husband now have a total of three children, all daughters. The oldest is 21, pursuing a career in entertainment journalism. The middle child is 14 and will attend Eagle Valley High School. The youngest will be in third grade at EVES.
"We first moved to Eagle County in 2008 and it always felt like home," Dougherty said. "We have good friends here."
- Derek Franz
As the new athletic director/assistant principal at Eagle Valley High School, Tami Payne likes what she sees in Devils country.
"We have a lot of raw talent here and it's a matter of putting that to its best use," said Payne. "There's a lot of passion in this building and it's a matter of showing that to the community."
Payne comes to EVHS from Berry Creek Middle School where she worked as the assistant principal last year. Prior to that, she was dean of students/coordinator of student achievement at Cherry Creek High School. Her undergraduate work was in business communications and public relations, and her graduate degree is in school administration. She has worked with college athletes and done a lot of coaching.
"This job at EVHS is everything that I have ever done in the past rolled into one position," said Payne
As she begins her work at EVHS, Payne said her goal is to build the school climate through academics, athletics and activities. She noted a firm foundation already exists for that work.
Last year, there were 720 students enrolled at EVHS and of that number, 205 participated in one sport, 196 participated in two sports, 37 participated in three sports and one participated in four sports. Additionally, 151 students participated in clubs and activities. Those numbers are strong and they demonstrate how EVHS is producing well-rounded kids, said Payne.
And, she noted, she is a walking example of what can happen when kids are motivated and supported as they look toward life beyond high school. "I was the kid I am trying to promote," she said.
Payne attended Barton County College in Great Bend, Kan., on an athletic/academic scholarship. Her sport was softball but she also got involved with the cheer program because of her background in elite gymnastics competition. She became the school mascot, which led her to the University of Kansas where she was the Jayhawk mascot, Baby Jay. (Incidentally, it will be interesting to see how that piece of personal history plays out this year because EVHS Principal Greg Doan was the Kansas State University Powercat mascot during his college years.)
Payne noted it's a bit early for her to be talking about what she wants to do with the EVHS activities and athletic programs because she is still learning about the school's culture and history. But with that said, she believes great things lie ahead for the Devils.
"We are going to build on the Eagle Valley identity and bring back the legacy," she said. "This is a great community."
- Pam Boyd