School Views: Come join us at Insider’s Academy |

School Views: Come join us at Insider’s Academy

Dan Dougherty
Eagle County Schools

For the last several years, Eagle County Schools has offered a public workshop called Insider’s Academy. The idea behind the academy is to connect community members with school district leaders in an informal meeting. We discuss the more significant operational components of running the Eagle County Schools, the second-largest employer in the county.

This year, Insider’s Academy occurs over three nights in October — 8, 22, and 29. Each night starts at 5:30 p.m. with a light dinner and ends by 8 p.m. Each workshop is at the board room in the new Red Canyon West campus in Gypsum.

Oct. 8 workshop

The first night of Insider’s Academy is an operational overview. Operating a school district that serves nearly 7,000 students requires a lot of support. Instruction is our core purpose, but we also have a sizeable transportation department with buses traveling over a half a million miles each year. Our nutritional services department provides breakfast and lunch for our student body according to strict dietary guidelines.

With 1.3 million square feet of facilities and 18 schools, our full-service maintenance crew is fixing something somewhere every day. We’ll provide a few salient facts about these critical departments on the first night. However, our primary focus is on how the state funds school districts and how we spend the revenue we receive. We end the night speaking about mill levies and bonds — the only two ways a local community has to increase funding for its schools and employees.

Oct. 22 workshop

A primary focus for the school district this year is to improve the cultural competency in our schools. We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our valley, and it’s not adequate to divide them into the state categories of Hispanic or white. Instead, we want to ensure every student feels like they belong to a larger family of students supported by a unified community.

We’ve been working on professional development to improve inclusiveness among students. Secondary students are engaged in Youth Equity Stewardship to shape the cultures they want in their schools. Important things happen when students feel a sense of belonging — they’re more engaged, optimistic, hopeful, active, and supportive. Research indicates that this leads to better grades, fewer discipline issues, and fewer mental health problems. We’ll spend this evening discussing our efforts and the benefits we’re seeking.

Oct. 29 workshop

This night gets at the heart of what we do — instruction. On the surface, it seems simple enough, right? Teachers are trained to teach and then lead students through grade-level content. But, what are the differences between curriculum, resources, and instruction? What about students needing special supports? And, once you understand where our curriculum comes from, then it’s essential to know how the district performs against the state averages.

We’ll share key indicators, differences between our district and the state, our academic challenges, and our areas of pride. As a district, we strive to recruit and retain the best possible educators because they have the single most significant impact on student success. Hopefully, you’ll forgive us if we brag on our staff for just a minute.

After these three nights, attendees will have a firm understanding of how our district operates. You’ll also know key leaders and can reach out with future questions. Attendance is free, but seats are limited. At the time of publishing, we still had a few positions open. Visit if you have an interest in joining us.

Dan Dougherty is the chief communications officer for Eagle County Schools. Email him at

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