Vail Daily column: We’re excited; are you?
Welcome to the 2014-15 school year! While most of the students in the community have been enjoying their summer break, the staff at Eagle County Schools was working feverishly to prepare for their return next week. With the sale of a small (and unusable) tract of land, the district was able to address many long-neglected housekeeping items at schools.
Generally, we’ve worked to improve the “curb appeal” of our buildings. We had crews repainting curbs, re-striping parking lots, tending to landscaping at entryways, working on sports fields, cleaning floors, re-carpeting worn areas and cleaning buildings stem to stern. We’re proud of our community’s schools and want them to show well as families come back to them next week.
In addition to cosmetic refreshing, we’ve made improvements in classrooms, infrastructure and instructional resources. Aging computers were replaced, broken LCD monitors in classrooms were replaced, bandwidth was expanded, projection screens and display systems were updated, and teacher computers were rotated. In all, hundreds of pieces of technology were brought to current standards. We also selected literacy and numeracy programs aligned with the new Colorado Academic Standards for elementary grades and expanded the AVID program (aimed at improving organization, perseverance and tenacity in students) in our high schools and middle schools.
Educators, administrators and support staff members attended valuable training during the break. They return with skills freshened and are more inspired than ever! Last week, the district hosted its annual Learning Services Institute. This is three days of workshops for principals, directors, master teachers and mentor teachers. We invite top national experts on key issues in to provide training for the leaders in our district. Best practices are shared for implementation at buildings this school year.
This week, all certified staff members are attending our two-day Educator Academy at Battle Mountain High School. The Educator Academy is comprised of a series of workshops focused on helping educators embrace our focus: teaching all students to high standards, customizing instruction for each student and empowering our frontline educators. The academy follows new hire orientation and precedes teachers spending their first day in classrooms on Friday. With nearly a thousand employees, including a hundred or so new hires, it takes considerable organization to get everyone back together and rowing in the same direction. Our partners at the Education Foundation of Eagle County and the Eagle River Youth Coalition also lend a hand in preparations — many thanks to them!
Like a massive synchronized swimming performance, dedicated professionals are going about their routines to welcome secondary students back on Aug. 18 and elementary students back on Aug. 21. We know of kids who can’t wait to be back in school and those who can’t believe the summer break has concluded! Regardless of their proclivities, we are all ready and excited to have them back.
We’ve also worked hard to make it easier on parents. Our online registration system for new students went live last spring before school ended. Parents were able to breeze through all registration forms online and at home instead of completing countless forms by hand. Now, for returning students, parents will simply log in and review information on file. Update what needs it and confirm what remains correct. We’re also launching a redesigned district website. This version is designed with the parent as the main user in mind and is the first major update in half a decade. You’ll have quick and easy access to key information, intuitive navigation and see more of our work in photos and videos. Our goal is to improve transparency and invite you into the experience of public education in Eagle County.
Early bedtimes and mornings aside, let me say, “Welcome to a great year of growth and learning — let the fun begin!”
Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.