A St. Vrain Valley Schools Publication | 2019-2020
#STVRA NSTORM We are giving current and future generations a strong competitive advantage for success in a complex, globalized world. We are the future of America. We are public education proud. We are taking the world by #StVrainStorm.
In this issue:
THE (NEXT) GREATEST GENERATION AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET A COMMUNITY OF COMPETITION
From the Publisher Dear St. Vrain Valley Community, Welcome to ST. VRAINNOVATION, a publication celebrating the impact of education in our community. Public education plays one of the most significant roles in the advancement of our nation. To ensure the success of our children, economy, and our future, it is essential that we prepare students to meet the challenges they will face. Please join us in celebrating the incredible achievements of our students, staff, and community. Together, we are advancing our children, our economy, our national security, and our future. Sincerely,
Table of Contents 1
The (Next) Greatest Generation Preparing students for success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Launching into the Future St. Vrain is committed to advancing literacy and academic success.
Don Haddad, Ed.D. Superintendent @SVVSDSupt
ST. VRAINNOVATION was produced in-house by St. Vrain Valley Schoolsâ€™ Department of Communications
AP for All St. Vrain Valley Schools is on a mission to ensure that all students graduate with a rigorous academic experience and the skills they need to be successful.
Aaron Ford, Graphic Design and Digital Media Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Gerber, Communications Manager email@example.com
Caroline Grundy, Marketing and Communications Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org Kerri McDermid, Chief Communications and Global Impact Officer email@example.com
Eunice Peinado, Marketing and Communications Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrienne Pequeen, Communications Department Secretary email@example.com
An Entrepreneurial Mindset St. Vrain is preparing students with the business skills and ingenuity to continue advancing our economy and our future.
ST. VRAINNOVATION and other district initiatives are generously supported by these and many other community sponsors.
St. Vrain in Motion
St. Vrain is taking engaging learning experiences on the road.
Heart and Mind In St. Vrain, student well-being and safety are among our highest priorities.
A Community of Competition St. Vrain is home to athletic teams that cross school boundaries and champion unity, excellence, and community for student-athletes.
Homegrown Brilliance These three people are doing amazing things with their lives, and they have one thing in common: they are all products of St. Vrain Valley Schools.
Crescendo We are advancing student achievement through music.
Excellence By Design “It’s about creating a shared vision and shared strategies amongst teachers, staff, and community members to mobilize the entire system towards shared goals.”
Future-Ready Graduates Preparing St. Vrain students with real-world skills before they cross the stage.
Catch Some Vrain Waves St. Vrain Valley Schools is recognized nationally for leadership
development and teacher training.
Class Acts Our schools are full of outstanding educators. Let’s meet four of St. Vrain’s finest...
Bond and Finance Update
N ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS, we are all part of a greater purpose in advancing public education across our community and beyond. We have a vision for a strong public education system that is not only preparing our students for graduation and postsecondary success, but is giving them a strong competitive advantage to compete with anyone, anywhere, anytime, for any job in the world. We believe public education is the foundation that drives the success of our nation. It is through our public schools that our communities are safer, our economies are stronger, our property 1
values are higher, and our future is brighter. Across St. Vrain Valley Schools, we are taking public education by #StVrainStorm â€“ our shared passion and commitment to advancing academic excellence and student success. Whether we are in our classrooms, competing and performing across the state, hiking with our families, or traveling the world, we keep public education close to our hearts and champion academic excellence wherever we go. Follow our #StVrainStorm hashtag on Twitter to see the outstanding things taking place every day across all of our schools and departments.
We believe public education is the foundation for driving the success of our nation. It is through our public schools that our communities are safer, our economies are stronger, our property values are higher, and our future is brighter.
Learn more at http://stvra.in/stvrainstorm
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
THE (NEXT) G R E AT E S T G E N E R AT I O N
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS IN THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION STORY AND PHOTO BY KERRI MCDERMID
By the Numbers N A T I O N A L I M PA C T
HINK BACK TO SOCIETY TEN, FIFTEEN...TWENTY YEARS AGO. What was your life like? What were your hopes and fears? How did you engage with the world around you? Just as the Greatest Generation, born in the 1900s-1920s, experienced economic turmoil, rising civic and community engagement, and the acceleration of new technologies (radio and telephone), today’s students are developing in a time of rapid global transformation. Schools today must be ready to meet the pace of industry to prepare students for jobs that do not even exist. We no longer ask students what they want to be when they grow up, but what problem they want to solve in the world. “I truly believe that we are seeing the greatest generation coming of age,” shared Frannie Matthews, President and CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. “As these digital natives come into positions of leadership for our world, they will be faced with enormous challenges and also supported by amazing technological advances.”
K-12 aged children in the United States – approximately 90 percent of our nation’s children – attend a public school1.
When calculating the public benefits of education in terms of high school graduation rates, the net economic benefit to the public is $127,000 per high school graduate2.
industry, community, and nonprofit district-level partners.
Photo: 2019 Niwot High School graduate addresses her graduating class.
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
One significant shift from the education Revolution’s establishment of the assembly model of the early 20th century is that line in the late 19th century, and then the rigorous learning no longer just emphasizes rise of computers in the Third Industrial memorization and recitation, but fosters Revolution of the late 20th century, skills that students will need to be successful embracing technological change are values in the new era. Students today are learning as American as apple pie, Monday Night how to continuously learn and iterate, Football, and Bruce Springsteen. problem solve, communicate, and advance Artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced innovative design and grow new ideas. manufacturing, automation, data integration, “Past generations have had to adapt cybersecurity, and creative innovation will to technology integrating with society, be central to success as the emerging Fourth but for PK-12 students, it’s as normal as Industrial Revolution drives exponential walking to the bus,” shared Paige Massey, change to the way we live and experience a sophomore at Silver Creek High School the world. In describing this new era, the and a member of the Innovation Center’s Artificial Intelligence Leadership Team. “Opportunities offered across St. Vrain Valley Schools do an exceptional job of preparing students for careers, postsecondary education, and daily life. Classes offered in school and an abundance of clubs will help students gain an edge when entering new and exponentially growing fields.” Our nation’s unwavering focus on innovation and the advancement of society has served to build the United States’ economy into one of the strongest in the world. From the introduction of steam power and mechanical production in the First Industrial Revolution in the DON HADDAD, ED.D. late 18th century, to the Second Industrial SUPERINTENDENT
World Economic Forum predicts disruption to every industry in every country, heralding the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. “We are seeing rapid acceleration of change at a pace we have never experienced before,” said Don Haddad, Ed.D., superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Schools. “With approximately 90 percent of our nation’s children attending a public school, we in St. Vrain believe public education is a catalyst to our nation’s economy, local and national security, the quality of our service industry, the value of homes, workforce
“With approximately 90 percent of our nation’s children attending a public school, we in St. Vrain believe public education is a catalyst to our nation’s economy, local and national security, the quality of our service industry, the value of homes, workforce development, and the protection of our democracy.”
INDUSTRY 2.0 MECHANIZATION
THE FIRST INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Steam power fueled the First Industrial Revolution. Goods that were once produced by hand could now be created in mass quantities due to mechanization, particularly in iron work and textiles. 5
THE SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Mass production and the assembly line reshaped the factory environment across the United States. Similar to the First Industrial Revolution, production rates saw a dramatic increase due to efficiency improvements in manufacturing.
development, and the protection of our democracy. It is essential that our systems are giving our students – and our society – a strong competitive advantage to foster success in a complex, globalized world.” In today’s classrooms, access to advanced technologies takes students beyond space and time to accelerate their learning and connection to the globe around them. St. Vrain Valley Schools has strategically focused on the development and implementation of programming that will propel students forward as they graduate and become engaged citizens and thought leaders who will champion a stronger future for all. “It has been a privilege to see St. Vrain students in action – they are engaged and inquisitive. The experience-based learning that I’ve witnessed in St. Vrain is setting students up for success,” added Matthews. “I see a generation of purpose-driven leaders who leverage their resources to work efficiently to find creative solutions to enormous challenges.” When we look ahead to our world ten, fifteen...twenty years from now, it is hard to imagine how our lives will be transformed by the innovative ideas taking shape in today’s classrooms. As we prepare for what is coming next, our students represent the next Greatest Generation that will shape our future and inspire a new vision of wonder and possibility for generations ahead. National Center for Education Statistics (2019), Back to School Fast Facts. Retrieved
from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372. 2
Levin, H.M., et al. (2007). The costs and benefits of an excellent education for all of
America’s children. Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education (CBCSE), Teachers College, Columbia University, New York.
BUILDING AND SECURING OUR DATA-DRIVEN FUTURE Every day, our interactions with technology and the world around us create a footprint of data about who we are, what drives our interests, and even how often our individual heart rate rises and falls over time. As the “Internet of Things” takes greater hold of automating tasks, tracking our health, and improving the quality of our lives, an entirely new industry of jobs is being created. Recognizing the power that data will hold in the future direction of our society, St. Vrain Valley Schools is launching an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity Hub at the Innovation Center that will cultivate skills for students to pursue new careers and champion the power of our data-driven future. With a focus on technical skills, analysis, leadership, ethics, and innovation, the Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity Hub will partner with leading industry experts to design curriculum pathways that will give students a competitive advantage in this emerging field. “Natural language processing, visual recognition, data analysis, machine learning, and complex neural models are all important areas of study for students to start engaging in now,” said Axel Reitzig, innovation coordinator at the Innovation Center. “Moving forward, our whole society will be centered on the use of those types of data and also how we keep that information secure.” Over the next three years, the Artificial Intelligence Leadership Team, comprised of students, educators, and industry leaders, will pilot AI learning in classrooms across St. Vrain. Building on strong cybersecurity programs already in place at secondary schools in the district, the Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity Hub will develop even more engineering and design opportunities for students to enhance their career and postsecondary preparation to make a big impact in the future.
1969 INDUSTRY 3.0
INDUSTRY 4.0 AUTOMATION
THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Electronics, such as the transistor and microprocessor, telecommunications, and computers allowed for production to be automated and was no longer restricted to the limits of human capacity.
CYBER PHYSICAL SYSTEMS
THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Exponentially increasing computing power has led to artificial intelligence, the “Internet of Things”, biotechnology, autonomous vehicles, and quantum computing. These technologies are projected to disrupt nearly every industry. ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
THE FUTURE ST. VRAIN IS COMMITTED TO ADVANCING LITERACY AND ACADEMIC SUCCESS BY ANNA GERBER PHOTOS BY AARON FORD N A HOT, SUNNY MONDAY IN JUNE, Burlington Elementary students filled the school’s classrooms, library, and gym. The energy that permeated the building was unusual for the time of year – normally on a summer day, students might be at a community pool or lounging at home. Instead, young learners could be found listening intently to stories in reading circles, sounding out words together around small tables, and completing innovative design challenges. This summer, Burlington was one of 11 elementary school 7
sites hosting Project Launch, an extended school year literacy program. Monday through Thursday throughout the month of June, nearly 2,000 St. Vrain elementary school students attended the all-day program to build on the reading progress they made during the regular school year and accelerate their learning to prepare for the year ahead. “Project Launch is a comprehensive extended learning initiative that allows us to meet students where they are and provide increased instructional time for them to continue to learn and grow,” said
ADVANCING LITERACY AND ACADEMIC SUCCESS
Kerin McClure, principal at Burlington Elementary. “Over the summer, we often see regression in literacy. Through this program, we aim to ‘launch’ students into success next year.” Project Launch increased instructional time through the summer with a goal of ensuring that all students are proficient in reading by third grade. Research has shown that early literacy is crucial in setting young students up for future success. “Until third grade, students learn to read. After that, they read to learn,” McClure says. More than 85 percent of today’s curriculum is taught by reading1. No matter the subject – from math and science to social studies and language arts – students get the bulk of their information from printed materials, digital resources, and whiteboard
lessons. Because of this, a strong reading foundation for young students is critical. Project Launch’s program design provided robust and targeted instruction in the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, and reading fluency. These components are critical to reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Each day, students received targeted literacy intervention using the Orton-Gillingham approach, participated in a robust literacy block to deepen and transfer reading comprehension skills, and applied their reading skills via content learning explorations in science, math, art, music, and drama. This format ensured that students received double the typical number of instructional hours in literacy-
focused activities in a school day. Under the instruction of more than 200 St. Vrain teachers, students engaged in small-class instruction with 12 students in each class. For teachers, the full-day format of Project Launch offered a unique opportunity to dedicate focused energy to one topic – literacy – and to participate in rich, jobembedded professional development. Teachers worked together and looked at data every day, making lesson adjustments based on daily evaluations. “From a staff standpoint, teachers have been inspired and energized by the program,” said McClure. “Teachers had an opportunity ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Photo: Jessica Moore works with students in small groups during Project Launch on reading comprehension.
to get to know students who will be in their classroom during the coming year, and to consider elements of the program that they could integrate into the classroom year round. We put a strong emphasis on professional development.” LAUNCHING INTO LEARNING Through themed units, each lasting a week, teachers motivated and energized students around certain topics – life science explorations, water wonders, engineering and design, weather – with integrated literacy curriculum and research-based practices. Specials like technology and physical education were also included in the curriculum, extending the classroom and aligning to support literacy and the weekly theme. “We have a really good balance of targeted literacy and engaging activities and topics that get students excited about reading,” McClure said. During their outer space-themed week, Fall River Elementary Project Launch learners were visited by Mission Specialist Rick Hieb, a former NASA astronaut with local ties. Hieb acted as a content expert for the students, helping to connect their reading and research, and stressed the importance of fundamental skills learned in elementary school. 9
“Right now, you are learning what you need to know to be an astronaut, or whatever it is you want to be,” said Hieb. “No matter what you do in life, you have got to be able to read.” Hieb explained to the students that in addition to reading, the skills needed to be an astronaut are not much different than what they are learning now – establishing good habits, perseverance, and cooperating with others. EDUCATING OUR YOUNGEST LEARNERS One teacher team that really understands the importance of fundamental skills is the staff at Spark! Discovery Preschool. Tasked with educating the district’s youngest learners, teachers at Spark! take a developmental approach to educating kids who have an emerging understanding of literacy. “We strive to create rich learning environments that develop all the domains of a child’s development – physical, socialemotional, cognitive, language, and literacy,” said Paige Gordon, principal at Spark!. “In preschool, pre-literacy skills are introduced in ways that students can actively engage – songs, stories, imaginative play, exploration, and games.” Some of the other foundational components that help students move
toward whole word reading include the development of language, vocabulary development, oral language, alphabetic knowledge, phonological and phonemic awareness, writing, concepts of print, and more. Spark! utilizes a curriculum called Fundations, which supports understanding of letter-sound and letter name associations by incorporating multi-sensory instruction and manuscript letter formation. “Literacy and language development start early in life and are highly correlated with school achievement,” Gordon says. “We want to ensure that preschoolers are set up for success in the future.” MEAD READS At Mead Elementary School, teachers are dedicated to seeing that their students have access to library resources to keep up their reading year-round. While the school was undergoing construction this summer, principal Betsy Ball rented space in a facility across the street, relocating much of their library collection to ensure the continuation of their annual Summer Fun Reading Program. On Tuesday nights, Mead teachers opened the makeshift library to host story time and let students check out books. The program is open to all students, regardless of their reading level, but special invites were extended to struggling readers. For those
students, teachers created weekly book bags with individualized materials to help them learn and grow, and included incentives for reading at home and logging their progress. For Kenny and Paula Fitzgerald, the school’s commitment to engaging students and ensuring access to resources is key in helping their children – fifth grader Aiden and second grader Emma – become confident readers. “As parents, we want to teach our children the importance of literacy, as reading is the foundation of all learning. Summer reading is also a great way to always be increasing their vocabulary and many of the books are good references to learn about history, science, and world events,” says Paula. “We also look at summer reading as a way to bring our family together as we often listen to books or read aloud together. This makes it a more interactive learning experience.” Through the use of myON, a personalized digital library, students across the district are able to keep up with reading at home yearround, especially during the summer. The app personalizes reading by recommending books based on a student’s interests, reading level, and ratings of books they’ve read, and forges a home-to-school connection by allowing students to access library books on their personal devices. The staff at Mead Elementary encourages the use of myON with a healthy sense of competition, and go as far as hosting pep rallies to cheer about reading. They also create contests and offer incentives and prizes. “myON truly acts like a motivational tool to keep kids engaged over breaks. The myON program makes it entertaining to read and is a good source of positive screen time in which your kids are being educated and yet they don’t even know it,” said Paula. “myON has kick started our children’s love
for reading which has made them seek out good books to read and has created a new helpful habit of reading.” “We try to make it fun and encourage kids with rewards, but it’s more important that they read and grow,” said Ball. A STRONG FOUNDATION Project Launch is just one of many strategies across St. Vrain to raise student literacy achievement and provide a stronger academic foundation in the early grades. Results from the program indicate that the intervention had a significant, positive impact on student reading skills, reflecting the power of bringing together best practices and research-based approaches to improving student learning and achievement. One of the most important predictors of graduating from high school is reading proficiently by the end of third grade 1. Literacy is crucial to ensuring that students are motivated and engaged throughout their educational career and St. Vrain is dedicated to helping every student lay a strong foundation for success in school and beyond. 1
Third Grade Reading Success Matters. (n.d.). The
Reading Foundation. Retrieved from https://www. readingfoundation.org/third-grade-reading-matters.
By the Numbers E A R LY C H I L D H O O D
anticipated births in our footprint over the next 20 years.
High-quality preschool programs can increase graduation rates by 11 percent. St. Vrain offers preschool for all elementary communities.
For every $1 invested in early childhood education, the U.S. economy sees a return of $8.60.
Reading 20 minutes every night equals 1.8 million extra words between kindergarten and sixth grade.
Photo: Sarah Coniglio works with students in small groups during Project Launch on reading comprehension. ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS IS ON A MISSION TO ENSURE THAT ALL STUDENTS GRADUATE WITH A RIGOROUS ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE, AND THE SKILLS THEY NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL. BY EUNICE PEINADO PHOTOS BY JOHN DAVID AND EUNICE PEINADO D VA N C E D P L AC E M E N T ® ( A P ) C L A S S E S P R O V I D E OUTSTANDING OPPORTUNITIES for students to engage in rigorous, college-level coursework preparing them for postsecondary education, while simultaneously earning college credit when they score a 3 or higher on an AP exam. AP coursework enables students to save on tuition and graduate college in less than four years. St. Vrain is always seeking innovative ways to provide support for students so they can be successful now and in the future. Recently, St. Vrain Valley Schools was one of four Colorado school districts to make the College Board’s Annual AP District Honor Roll. The AP Honor Roll recognizes school districts committed to increasing access to AP courses for all students while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students who earn a score of 3 or higher on their AP Exams. Overall enrollment in AP classes has increased by 50 percent since 2004, while minority enrollment has increased by approximately 80 percent. This year alone, Skyline High School has seen a significant increase in student participation in AP courses. “We have 797 student enrollments in AP classes (some students take more than one AP class), which is the highest we have ever had and a 55 percent increase from 2014,” shared Heidi Ringer, principal of Skyline High School. “For AP exams, we’ve also had an increase in exams taken and the pass rate has also increased. The school offers many resources to support students including practice exam opportunities and Saturday study sessions.” During the 2018-2019 school year, Erie High School and Skyline High School collaborated to give students across the district an opportunity to participate Photo: Erie High senior, Nisha Shrestha, learns about electric charge using a Van de Graaff generator in AP Physics. 11
in AP Saturday study sessions. Students learned new perspectives from their peers and teachers, and dove deeper into lessons they had already experienced. “The success from these sessions prove that as a district, we are committed to demonstrating that we believe our strength rests in everyone’s success as well as our own,” shared Kim Wiggins, assessment coordinator for St. Vrain. Rigorous AP classes are offered at every high school and each school has an AP coordinator available to recruit students. The goal is for every student to have an AP course experience before they graduate. Skyline High School recruits students in October for the following year and their AP coordinator visits all classes to talk about the course offerings. “Teachers discuss AP with all students and encourage them to challenge themselves to take at least one AP class,” shared Ringer. “There are no prerequisites for AP classes, so any student that wants to take an AP class can do so.” In addition to the Saturday study sessions, both Erie and Skyline offer practice exam opportunities in an effort to continue providing the support and encouragement students need to feel confident and be successful. “When students take AP classes, they develop their academic potential and confidence to the highest levels by engaging in challenging, college-level curriculum while in high school,” shared Matt Buchler, principal at Erie High School. “This confidence and success will serve them well during high school and after graduation. AP classes also provide the added benefit of acquiring credits at a fraction of the cost of what a college or university charges students.” Carolyn Root, AP Studio Art Drawing teacher at Skyline High School, knows the importance of student engagement in AP courses. “Students who take the AP drawing course become much more aware that as an artist they have a voice and a platform for their message. They begin to create with a purpose and think about how the choices they make in each artwork support that message or idea,” shared Root. “This
realization often gives them confidence to share their thoughts in other ways, such as in writing or open discussion groups. It also prepares them for the rigors and challenges of college classes, as well as helping them develop skills in time management with projects and personal scheduling.” When students take AP courses and exams, they demonstrate to colleges that they have sought out educational experiences that are rigorous and will prepare them for success not only in college, but beyond. “By taking AP classes, I’ve had the opportunity to challenge myself and broaden my worldview,” shared Cassie Mahakian, senior at Erie High School. “I’ve loved interacting with my classmates and teachers at a higher level, and by having these classes as an option, I have been able to expand both my skills and knowledge of the world.” Investment in AP classes is part of St. Vrain’s overall strategy to provide students with multiple pathways that lead to career and college success. “We constantly speak about rigor and challenge in our classrooms,” shared Wiggins. “If students don’t experience mastery of challenges there, then AP sounds herculean. Our message is clear: the primary difference between AP and non-AP should only be that AP teaches standards beyond high school.”
By the Numbers STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
college credits earned throughout the 2018-2019 academic year through concurrent enrollment.
AP exams and 944 IB exams taken during the 2018-2019 academic year.
credits required for graduation — among the most rigorous in Colorado.
in potential college tuition savings from college credits earned by the Class of 2019.
Photo: Skyline High junior, Stephen Shaeffer, sketches his hand by using his phone’s camera to capture a unique live perspective in AP Studio Art Drawing.
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
MINDSET STORY BY CAROLINE GRUNDY PHOTOS BY AARON FORD AND CAROLINE GRUNDY ISUALIZE AN ENTREPRENEUR AND WHAT DO YOU SEE? An individual in business attire? Someone speaking next to a slideshow presentation featuring line graphs and pie charts? What about a 20-year-old female who started a handcrafted electric guitar company right out of high school? Or a male high school senior who is in the thick of creating a prototype for a shoe designed to replenish electrolytes back into the body? The modern-day entrepreneur encompasses anyone who can identify a problem or need and create a solution. While Jeff Lund, instructional technologist at the Innovation Center, would like to share more details on what his students are working on in the Entrepreneurial Zone, he can’t give away too much since they are in the middle of designing prototypes, 13
exploring how to establish LLCs, and pitching ideas to local investors. Through the Entrepreneurial Zone class, students create fluid business plans, conduct marketing SWOT analyses, and complete financial literacy coursework to understand what financing is required from investors to pay themselves and get their startup off the ground. As an intern in the Entrepreneurial Zone, Skyline senior, AnneJeanette Gonzales, is paid as a district employee to serve as a marketer for community outreach events, an event planner for various networking events, and an online systems manager for entrepreneurial events. While enrolled in the course, she is also earning college credit. Participation in programs that combine coursework and real-world experiences are transformational for students. AnneJeanette
shared, “The Entrepreneurial Zone has prepared me for my future, because I have been forced to step outside of my comfort zone. When I started high school I was very shy, but now I speak at a lot of events and this program has helped me expand my network and meet industry professionals and other students who have mentored me while I apply for college.” ADVOCATING FOR FINANCIAL LITERACY Financial literacy is one component of entrepreneurship and while it is incorporated into the Entrepreneurial Zone, this is not unique in St. Vrain. Financial literacy is woven through curriculum from kindergarten to high school. When personal financial literacy was first created as a Colorado Academic Standard in 2009, the
content was looped into social studies and math classes. However, in 2016-2017, the St. Vrain Valley Schools Student Advisory Council met with district leadership to advocate for a standalone class to cover topics such as money management, financial planning, credit and debt, taxes, and risk management. Based on student input, the Board of Education voted to add financial literacy to St. Vrain graduation requirements starting with the class of 2021. Students across St. Vrain high schools now have the option to take Personal Financial Literacy or Wealth Management, which cover job readiness and financial goal setting, to fulfill the new graduation requirement. Students engage in learning activities that simulate the financial world, such as an online stock market game and a virtual reality world where students are assigned a life and career where they learn how to provide for their needs. Longmont High sophomore, Tessa Money, shared, “before I took Wealth Management, I never really thought about how even people who have a lot of money can lose it if they don’t know how to manage their money.” Students have many opportunities across all high schools to deepen and broaden their business skills. Longmont High is home to the High School of Business focus program, where students get a head start on exploring their postsecondary interests in the field. Classes include Leadership, Wealth Management, Principles of Business, Business Economics, Principles of Marketing, Principles of Finance, Principles of Management, and Business Strategies. Longmont junior, Matthew Cash, shared, “my enrollment in this program gave me the confidence to take on new leadership positions such as editor-in-chief of the yearbook.” THE EARLY GRADES MATTER Another enrichment opportunity is through St. Vrain’s partnership with the Young Americans Center, a local nonprofit focused on financial literacy programming for youth. The nonprofit offers a program called Young AmeriTowne, which introduces numerous financial topics to students and then culminates with them “running town” for the day. Students receive visits from local community members who represent various career fields. They then decide which job they will apply for based on availability. Those who decide they’d like to serve as an elected official of the town must deliver a campaign speech to their peers. When the roles are decided and the students run the town for a day, they encounter real-world problems. If they are a store manager, they will run out of inventory and need to problem-solve how to replenish items. Another student’s character may receive a medical bill and have to navigate making payments. Community Schools Coordinator, Susan Zimmerman, emphasized the program changes the students’ perspective on money, “I’ve heard students talk about how they can start their own business and share ideas on how they can make their own money.” Entrepreneurship is all about identifying problems and creating solutions. Elementary schools across St. Vrain participate in
student-driven Genius Hour projects, where students research a topic they are passionate about and create a way to share it. One fifth grade student at Indian Peaks Elementary School visited a local farmers market and decided to bring one to the school as their Genius Hour project. The idea generated interest from fellow students and teachers who collaborated to make the project a community success. St. Vrain’s Nutrition Services worked with the students at Indian Peaks to connect them to local farmers who ultimately donated food to be used at the school farm stand. On the evening of the school farmer’s market, students led everything from sharing their knowledge of farmers markets and seasonal produce availability, to preparing the farmers market stand with fruits and vegetables, to handling all of the transactions at the event. “I learned that you need to use a lot of math during the market,” shared fifth grader, Jonathon Lopez. He continued, “working with money and people is an important skill.” The students decided to donate their earnings back to the school to be placed in the school fund for field trips and co-curricular activities. Indian Peaks STEM Coordinator, Alexandra Downing, speaks passionately on the success of the project and how the whole community enjoyed learning about the students’ research and experience. “Entrepreneurship is part of student voice. Students get to choose their topic and create something that’s new and share it with the world. The Genius Hour process gives students confidence and character, which instills in them the belief that they can make a difference in the world – whether it’s a simple change to something that’s already been made or a brand new invention, they go through the process of creation and you witness them grow.”
“Entrepreneurship is part of student voice. Students get to choose their topic and create something that’s new and share it with the world.” ALEXANDRA DOWNING STEM COORDINATOR INDIAN PEAKS ELEMENTARY
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
“The Mobile Lab is a showcase of the innovative learning that takes place in St. Vrain Valley Schools every day and the possibilities that are just around the corner. Our vision is to engage families in learning together and to bring advanced, interactive, and meaningful learning experiences to our schools.” COLIN RICKMAN INNOVATION LAB COORDINATOR
ST. VRAIN IN MOTION
ST. VRAIN IS TAKING ENGAGING LEARNING EXPERIENCES ON THE ROAD BY KERRI MCDERMID PHOTOS BY AARON FORD OR OVER THIRTY YEARS, MS. FRIZZLE AND HER MAGIC SCHOOL BUS have graced the pages of books lining school library shelves that have inspired the imagination of millions of students across the world. The idea of students boarding a bus to be transported through time and space to engage deeply in learning about science, history, geography, and more, is just as memorable today as it was when the first book was published in 1986. The difference is that this type of academic journey is now possible for students in St. Vrain Valley Schools. 15
Technology has become an incredibly powerful tool to advance personalized learning and accelerate communication and collaboration. Every day in classrooms across St. Vrain, students are leveraging technology and design-thinking processes to foster innovation, understand complex systems, imagine new possibilities, and discover subjects of passion that will shape their future pathways. With the launch of the ST. VRAINNOVATION Future-Ready Innovation Lab, St. Vrain is taking those experiences on the road to build an even broader reach to inspire learning through technology.
The ST. VRAINNOVATION Future-Ready Innovation Lab is a cutting-edge technology and innovation center in a mobile environment, emphasizing virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, design thinking, and aeronautics, as well as STEM and early educational experiences that will accelerate students’ learning and extend public education beyond the classroom. “The Mobile Lab is a showcase of the innovative learning that takes place in St. Vrain Valley Schools every day and the possibilities that are just around the corner,” said Colin Rickman, coordinator
of the Mobile Innovation Lab. “Our vision is to engage families in learning together and to bring advanced, interactive, and meaningful experiences to our schools.” Funded entirely through donations from industry and community partners, the Mobile Innovation Lab not only provides an environment to enhance student learning and pilot new curriculums and technologies, it also serves as a bridge between the community and classroom learning. ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
“WE CHOOSE TO GO TO THE MOON…” On a sunny Friday afternoon in August, the Mobile Innovation Lab was stationed in downtown Longmont at the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce’s Unity in the Community event. As students and community members stepped onto the lab, they were instantly transported to the moon. John F. Kennedy’s unmistakable New England accent rang through the air...“We choose to go to the moon in this decade…” while video of space travel illuminated the environment. On this day, student leaders on the Mobile Lab Team were sharing learning experiences that showcased how students use technology to deepen and extend their learning. ‘Space travelers’ who were visiting the lab took pictures on the moon against a green screen background, created videos that highlighted facts about the physics of gravity, used virtual reality and augmented reality to explore lunar environments, and shared their moonshot ideas for creating a better world. Outside the lab, budding astronauts tried their hand at using coding and Sphero robotics to navigate lunar landscapes and got a first-hand look at advanced technologies that will continue to shape the future of learning and innovation. “I see the Mobile Lab as a part of the ever-growing bridge between the community, connecting families to St. Vrain Valley Schools. “It’s incredible to witness visitors have a moment of awe when they first walk into the lab and experience an ‘aha’ moment,” shared Calvin Tran, a sophomore at Skyline High School and a member of the Mobile Lab Team. “While education used to be 17
Photo: Calvin Tran, Skyline High sophomore, demonstrates VR learning capabilities as a member of the mobile lab team. more black and white for me, the Mobile Lab opened my eyes to the dynamic nature that St. Vrain is adding to our education, revolutionizing the way that kids learn.” On the horizon, the Mobile Innovation Lab will serve as a facilitator and incubator of innovation at the nexus of industry and education. Students will have the opportunity to connect with doctors at UCHealth to design the hospital room of the future, engage IBM experts to advance artificial intelligence environments, or learn alongside Crestone Peak Resources engineers to investigate the innovations in energy. “Every time the lab is out on the road and opens its doors to people, I believe they will be inspired by what is happening in St. Vrain and public education,” added Rickman. As the Mobile Innovation Lab makes its way across St. Vrain Valley Schools and beyond, it will continue to build new curriculum and learning opportunities for students to engage deeply with partners and showcase innovation to the community. Innovations that Ms. Frizzle could have only imagined.
“I see the Mobile Lab as a part of the ever-growing bridge between the community, connecting families to St. Vrain Valley Schools. It’s incredible to
By the Numbers T E C H N O LO G Y A N D I N N O VAT I O N
iPads throughout the district along with approximately 10,000 Chromebooks.
witness visitors have a moment of awe when they first walk into the lab, and experience an ‘aha’ moment.” CALVIN TRAN, SOPHOMORE SKYLINE HIGH SCHOOL
unique applications for learning.
computing devices throughout the district supported by a team of 11 technicians.
increase in the number of students participating in competitive robotics over the past five years.
THE ST. VRAINNOVATION FUTURE-READY INNOVATION LAB IS FULLY FUNDED BY THESE AND MANY OTHER INDUSTRY AND NONPROFIT PARTNERS.
AMAZON, BUCKEYE MOUNTAIN, MISTY ROBOTICS, SPHERO, SEAGATE, SPARKFUN, AND WESTERN DIGITAL
Thank you to our community for supporting the advancement of public education and outstanding opportunities for our students. ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
A COMMUNITY OF COMPETITION
ST. VRAIN IS HOME TO ATHLETIC TEAMS THAT CROSS SCHOOL BOUNDARIES AND CHAMPION UNITY, EXCELLENCE, AND COMMUNITY FOR STUDENT-ATHLETES. BY ANNA GERBER PHOTOS BY JOHN DAVID AND KERRI MCDERMID
Photo: Niwot Cougars gymnastics athletes practice their routine on the balance beam. O OT B A L L , B A S K E T B A L L , SOCCER, AND VOLLEYBALL are common offerings in high school athletic programs across the United States. But more non-traditional sports like gymnastics, lacrosse, field hockey, or skiing are often hard to come by. Per Colorado State Statute, if a student’s home school does not offer a sport, they have the opportunity to play at the closest school offering that sport, or at any school of their choosing. Across the state of Colorado, students looking to compete in one of these specialized sports are forming combined teams composed of student-athletes from more than one, and often several, high schools. In St. Vrain, students who want to participate in boys or girls swimming might compete for Silver Creek High School or Longmont High School. The district’s only girls gymnastics team bears the Niwot High School name. And new this year, Erie High School is home to the district’s only boys lacrosse team. The creation of combined athletic teams is typically student-driven. Though they might not be offered at the high school level, many athletes have been playing these 19
sports their entire lives. Research is done to gauge the interest, support, and feasibility of creating a team, and a host school is chosen based on factors like facilities, community support, and Title IX capacity. “We are never going to turn kids away. If there’s a demand, we will find the means to make it happen,” said Chase McBride, St. Vrain’s Executive Director of Athletics, Activities, and Fine Arts. “We want students to take advantage of the opportunity to learn life lessons through arts, activities, and athletics.” St. Vrain’s newest combined team – lacrosse at Erie High – formed in time to compete during the spring 2019 season. In its first season, the Tigers’ lacrosse team brought together players from around the district, many of whom had competed with or against each other before. The result was a diverse and talented team that leveraged their differences to exceed expectations. “The lacrosse community is a tight-knit group. It was definitely an advantage to us in the season because we had so much knowledge from so many different sources and coaching styles from teams all across Colorado,” said Sterling Gardner, a junior at Silver Creek
High School who played on the Erie team this spring. “I had been watching most of the players on the team play since I was young and many of them I had played with before.” The Tigers made it to the playoffs, ultimately losing in the semifinals to Golden High School, which went on to win the 4A state title. Players and parents credit Coach Nick Mandia with creating a culture of competition, but also of inclusion. “The key was the culture that was developed over the year. It was so inclusive I never felt like I was from a different school – I was just part of the team,” Sterling shared. “Culture in any sport is extremely important, especially on a new team with people from all over who have learned different ways. It is the key to creating a team not just a group of individual players.” Sterling’s father, Todd, also credits the culture and the trust put in the players to rise to the challenges they faced as a new team. “Creating a lacrosse culture with excellent coaching, mentoring, and support from the district is the key to running a successful program,” said Todd. “St. Vrain and Erie High School found the right formula.”
Photo: Mallory Christopher, junior at Longmont High School, warms up on the horizontal bar as a member of the Niwot Cougars gymnastics team.
Photo: Sage Gardner (#6), 2019 Silver Creek High graduate, and Hayden Sock (#32), Mead High sophomore, compete during a match in April for the Erie Tigers, which they ended up winning 18-2.
“Winning is our goal, but it’s not our purpose.”
Another combined team that has seen recent success is St. Vrain’s only girls gymnastics team. The 4A team at Niwot High School features 18 athletes from five high schools around the district. The Cougars won their sixth state girls gymnastics title last fall after finishing as runners-up in the years before. Before that, they won state titles in 1991, 1994, 2000, 2001, and 2015. In her five years as head coach of the team, Marisa Purcell has worked hard to unify her athletes and help them build a team mentality. “Gymnastics in general is an individual sport until you get to high school. When you come to high school, you win based on your team score,” said Purcell. “Not only do we have girls from different schools, but we have girls who are in an individual sport now competing together as a team. I encourage them to think about the team perspective as well as the individual perspective.” From day one of each season, Purcell encourages her athletes to put forth the effort to learn about each other and bond, recognizing
the importance of their camaraderie in being successful as a team as they compete together. “Their role is bigger than someone who just does a sport at their home school. We represent Niwot, our home schools, and all of St. Vrain Valley Schools,” Purcell says. “I let them know that it doesn’t matter what gym they come from, because now we are Niwot.” As with any sport, competing for a combined team like Erie lacrosse or Niwot gymnastics takes hard work and dedication. Purcell gives credit not only to dedicated athletes, but to their families and the community that supports the team. McBride takes pride in the success of the district’s combined teams both on and off the field, but also in the ability for athletes to have access to their sport of choice. “We do everything we can to provide all students with many choices to be involved and to compete,” he says. “A guiding principle of ours has always been: winning is our goal, but it’s not our purpose.” ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Photo: Jill Fischaber conducts the Altona Middle School Orchestra. 21
ADVANCING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT THROUGH MUSIC
BY KERRI MCDERMID PHOTOS BY AARON FORD
/krəˈSHenˌdō/ noun noun: crescendo; plural noun: crescendos; plural noun: crescendi • the loudest point reached in a gradually increasing sound. • the highest point reached in a progressive increase of intensity. • a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music.
N JILL FISCHABER’S MORNING ORCHESTRA CLASS at Altona Middle School, the low buzz of plucked strings and student chatter gives way to the piercing sound of a sustained ‘A’ note as the violins and violas bring their instruments to their chins, the cellos and basses sit a little taller in their chairs, and everyone brings their bows to their strings to begin the start of class tuning – A, D, G, C, and E. The daily ritual of tuning or vocal warm-ups takes place every day in classrooms across St. Vrain Valley Schools, where opportunities for students to engage in music programs is a priority for ensuring students
receive a robust educational experience. Beyond the beauty that is created when students bring their individual voices and tones together to create a unified sound, high-quality music education has a significant, lasting impact on the future success and achievement of students who pursue their artistic passions. Research has shown strong ties between music participation and the advancement of language development, literacy, numeracy, measures of intelligence, creativity, fine motor coordination, concentration, self-confidence, emotional sensitivity, social skills, teamwork, self-discipline, and relaxation1. ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Photo (Left): Mead Elementary second grade students (left to right), Natalie Crane, Brock Anderson, Aaron Palacios, and Lucelia Johnson learn the foundations of music on the xylophone.
Photo (Right): Mead Unified Percussion students, Kylee Mendez and Cole Smith, make their performance debut at Band Night.
Additionally, students who participate in music scored an average of 31 points higher on their SAT2, and there is a strong relationship between student participation in the arts and higher GPAs and academic achievement3. “Music in public schools has a huge impact on student involvement. It is a place where students can try something new, find new ways to express themselves, and meet others with the same interests,” said Fischaber. “For many students, finding something they are passionate about makes all the difference in their education. Studies show that music students tend to be more organized and perform better academically. For many, it can also be a reason for them to come to school.” Across the district, the rituals of daily music practice take on a different rhythm as members of the Mead High School marching band not only ensure that their shoelaces are tied and their instruments are tuned, but that they are marching in sync to the 85 other members of the troupe. “Band has impacted me as a leader, a friend, a daughter, a student, and as the person I am today. It created a family of people who I can learn from and grow with, where I can also teach others to become a leader and a better person,” shared Alyssa Diaz, a sophomore at Mead High School and clarinet player in the Mead High Marching Band. “Band teaches skills inside and outside of music, such as problem solving and learning to be a leader to people other than my fellow band members. Music education has shown me that I can achieve great things and use my talents to help others – or even just put a smile on someone’s face.” 23
Across St. Vrain Valley Schools, 54 percent of secondary students participate in over 180 music classes – a rate that is significantly higher when you also include other arts programs such as theater, dance, and visual arts. At the elementary school level, all students receive a high-quality music education experience and in many classrooms, music is integrated through other subjects such as STEM and language arts. “While students take great pride in the exalted experience of a great performance, they also treasure being a part of an inclusive ensemble that welcomes and values all members,” said Chad Lemons, band director at Mead High School. “Many of my former students continue to play music after high school and several are music majors – two of them hoping to return to teach in St. Vrain. I hope all of my students are inspired to follow their arrow wherever it points.” This year, Mead High School is also starting the district’s first Unified Percussion Ensemble that pairs a special education student with a general education student to learn and perform music together. Modeled after the district’s highly-successful Unified Sports program, Lemons hopes that the students coming together to create music and develop a shared passion for the arts will continue to strengthen the community and enrich the lives of all who share in that joy. “Music education ignites an intrinsic motivation in our students that impacts so much more than test scores, attendance rates, and academic engagement,” shared Lemons. “In a society of instant gratification, music continues to challenge our students to reveal the reward of perseverance.”
By the Numbers I M PA C T O F T H E A R T S
“While students take great pride in the exalted experience of a great performance, they also treasure being a part of an inclusive ensemble that
secondary student enrollments in a visual or performing arts class (some students may enroll in more than one class).
welcomes and values all members.” CHAD LEMONS BAND DIRECTOR MEAD HIGH SCHOOL
secondary classes in visual and performing arts.
All-State musicians in the 2018-2019 school year.
elementary music and art programs available for students.
Hallam, S. (2010). The power of music:
Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. International Journal of Music Education, 28(3), 269–289. https://doi. org/10.1177/0255761410370658. 2
College Board. (2012). 2012 College-bound
seniors total group profile report. Retrieved from https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/ digitalServices/pdf/research/TotalGroup-2012. pdf. 3
Hanover Research. (2016). The impact of
arts and athletics participation on student s u c c e s s . R e t r i e v e d f ro m h t t p s : // w w w. gssaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ The-Impact-Of-Arts-And-Athletics-ParticipationOn-Student-Success.pdf.
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Photo (Above): Priscilla Vargas, Longmont High junior, organizes the Advanced Manufacturing Academy’s tool crib at the Career Development Center. Photo (Right): Joren Hansen, Frederick High freshman, works with his mentor during a P-TECH event. HAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? For students in St. Vrain, they do not have to wait very long to start exploring career opportunities. As St. Vrain continues to blend the lines between high school and postsecondary life, students are able to explore career opportunities, earn credits and industry certifications, and receive college degrees – all while in high school. When you walk through the halls of the Career Development Center (CDC) you will find students dressed in various uniforms depending on their passion
– chefware, heavy safety gear, lab coats, photography packs, or tall mud boots. As Longmont High Engineering II student, Priscilla Vargas, says, “the CDC is a career playground for students in St. Vrain.” Through the Career Development Center, students have the opportunity to pursue eight career pathways: Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Agriscience, Automotive Technology, Engineering Technology and Machining, Health Sciences (Certified Nursing Assistant, Dental Assistant, Sports Medicine, and Emergency Medical Technician), Interactive Media Technology, ProStart (Culinary Arts), and Welding Fabrication Technology. Priscilla’s interest in engineering was sparked during a local college visit and her desire to be able to create what society needs to propel industry and innovation. At 15 years old, Priscilla is the youngest employee at Lexmark International, Inc., a company that manufactures laser printers and imaging products, through a highly competitive apprenticeship she received with CareerWise Colorado. This year, there were only six manufacturing positions available within the area, and she and four other St. Vrain students were awarded the spots. Her teacher, Neil Shupe, shares that St. Vrain prepares students for esteemed programs like these by supporting them with resume building sessions and practice interviews. Priscilla shows up to work, puts on her steel-toed boots and a canvas smock uniform, and works on the logistics team within shipping and receiving in the warehouse. Her apprenticeship will provide her experience within indirect and direct purchasing, production scheduling, inventory planning, creating contracts, and managing supplier relationships. In addition to receiving hands-on job experience, she is also paid above minimum wage to perform her duties. Photo: Keyri Andrade, Skyline High senior, participates in the IBM summer mentorship program as part of P-TECH.
GRADUATES BY CAROLINE GRUNDY PHOTOS BY AARON FORD AND CAROLINE GRUNDY
Priscilla is a part of the new Advanced Manufacturing Academy at the Career Development Center. Shupe, the program’s director, explains the program has been developed because of growth trends in the area, “manufacturing is the largest growing industry between this area and Boulder.” The Advanced Manufacturing Academy provides students with hands-on experience in welding, machining, electronics, and optics. Shupe adds, “students graduate from our pathway programs with industry certifications, and are able to jump entry-level positions and become managers in a short time after graduating high school.” Priscilla says her experience at the Career Development Center is helping her decide what is the best fit for her future. “When these technical opportunities are available to high school students, we are able to explore what is right for us as students and what is right for our future without taking on student loans.” Photo: Career Development Center students fabricating washers as part of the Advanced Manufacturing Academy. ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
ADVANCING OUR FUTURE WORKFORCE “It is our job to ensure that all students are ready and prepared to pursue high-level careers and succeed in any postsecondary position,” says Eric Berngen, coordinator of programs and workforce development at the Innovation Center. Project-based learning is crucial to postsecondary readiness and the Innovation Center has been at the forefront of this movement. Berngen rattles off examples of real-world, problem-solving experiences students are receiving through the Innovation Center. He mentions the underwater robotics team and their collaboration with the Denver Zoo to conduct research on an endangered frog in Peru, as well as the group of students enrolled in the Aeronautics program who are building advanced drones for national companies. “Our goal is to take the work that is being done in the classroom and make it into a reality through genuine workforce development and strategic partnerships,” says Berngen. P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) – a program which allows students to earn a high school diploma as well an associate degree through partnerships with local community colleges and industry partners – is just one example of what this looks like in practice. In the first three years of its existence, 152 Skyline High students earned over 2,400 college credits with 135 IBM mentors involved in the program. This past summer, there were
Photo: Katherine Howlett, Frederick High senior, teaching Liliana Ramirez, Indian Peaks preschool student, as part of the P-TEACH program.
29 St. Vrain interns at IBM and St. Vrain students received feedback that they were outperforming many of the college interns. This year, St. Vrain launched a second P-TECH at Frederick High focused on biochemistry with partners including Aims Community College, Avexis, Tolmar, and Agilent Technologies. As St. Vrain continues to map out blueprints for these real-world, skills-based experiences, the P-TECH program and other high-level opportunities will continue to grow in schools across St. Vrain. GROWING OUR OWN For students interested in a career in education, there is yet another pathway program available where students gain hands-on teaching experience within the classrooms of St. Vrain Valley Schools – P-TEACH or Pathways to Teaching. Through P-TEACH, students enrolled in the program gain college credits for field experience with exposure to niche subjects such as special education, STEM, early childhood, and cultural awareness. Students also attend classes at the Innovation Center throughout the program and graduate from high school with 21 college credits
under their belt from the University of Colorado Denver. Often referred to as a teacher pipeline, the program’s intent is to inspire St. Vraineducated students to head back to the classrooms of the school system in which they were raised, and be equipped with the skills to teach the next generation. Many students will be highly qualified to teach subjects that require a unique skill set such as bilingualism, special education, and STEM. The program began after the district was awarded a $125,000 grant through Early Milestones Colorado and then it was expanded to include more teaching areas when it was awarded a second $125,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Lifelong educator and P-TEACH coordinator, Wendy Howenstein, has seen her P-TEACH students evolve through the program saying, “slowly, as they start sharing what they are doing in classrooms and as they are taking on more responsibilities and understanding what is happening
By the Numbers PA R T N E R S H I P S A N D G R A N T S
industry certifications earned by students in the 2018-2019 school year.
square feet of career and technical education facility space.
received in competitive grant awards since January 2018.
in the classroom, they change. They become more confident and they generate their own teaching ideas.” P-TEACH students are assigned teacher mentors and have additional hands-on experience through St. Vrain’s Community Schools and Project Launch programs, where they are paid to assist teachers with curriculum and educational activities. In an ever-evolving, fast-paced world, it is imperative to offer programs that reflect the world beyond the classroom walls. “These programs are vital to the changing landscape of education today,” reflects Howenstein. “The world is moving so fast and the cost of higher education is increasing. Students want to and need to have the opportunity to physically explore the different fields that are out there before they graduate from high school to save them time and money. Offering hands-on opportunities where students are in a classroom, or a biolab, or an airplane simulator, have made our students soar.”
“These programs are vital to the changing landscape of education today... Offering hands-on opportunities where students are in a classroom, or a biolab, or an airplane simulator, have made our students soar.” WENDY HOWENSTEIN P-TEACH COORDINATOR
STRENGTHENING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN BUSINESS, INDUSTRY, AND COMMUNITY In the Fall of 2018, St. Vrain Valley Schools launched a new community outreach program called Community Strong. Community Strong is included in St. Vrain Valley Schools’ vision and priority for community engagement. Through this initiative, St. Vrain will continue to build and strengthen connections to small businesses, corporate entities, and industry leaders, while promoting experiential learning, integration of technology, and career/pathway exploration. ADVANCING PUBLIC EDUCATION THROUGH COMMUNITY COLLABORATION The Community Strong initiative is driven by three primary goals: 1. Make it easy for partners to connect with schools and district initiatives 2. Measure partner impact while communicating success 3. Consult with industry partners to cultivate educational programming and career pathways The Community Strong partner portal – communitystrong.svvsd.org – allows community partners to browse current opportunities within St. Vrain Valley Schools. Opportunities vary in scope, but ultimately connect partners and schools for the purpose of experiential learning. Opportunities include: • Classroom Speaking • Workforce Development • Job Shadowing • Community Service • Mentoring • Project-Based Learning • Internships/Apprenticeships • Student Contract Work Once a community or business partner registers with the partner portal, they have the ability to communicate directly with school personnel to learn more about the posted opportunity, track the number of hours spent in schools, and share their experiences. Impact reports are available for publication or can be shared with partners participating in the Community Strong initiative – showcasing measurable results and celebrating successful student impacts. Together with its partners, St. Vrain Valley Schools continues to advance the expectations of education for the betterment of our students, community, and nation.
Learn more at communitystrong.svvsd.org ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
OUR SCHOOLS ARE FULL OF OUTSTANDING EDUCATORS. LET’S MEET FOUR OF ST. VRAIN’S FINEST... STORY AND PHOTOS BY EUNICE PEINADO
Central Elementary IB Coordinator, Hillary Simonson 29 MAGAZINE.SVVSD.ORG
HAT DISTINGUISHES AN OUTSTANDING TEACHER? Is it their love for learning, their diligence or knowledge, creativity or charisma? Or all of the above? These four outstanding teachers demonstrate hard work, dedication, encouragement, and compassion. Through their love of teaching, they encourage their students to pursue their passions and guide them along the path to build a strong future. HILLARY SIMONSON, IB COORDINATOR, CENTRAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL I teach because… “I like being able to meet students where they’re at, and help each and every one of them grow.” Ever since she was in high school, Hillary Simonson had always known that she would like to work with kids. “I worked in daycares throughout high school. I liked being able to support their growth.” Hillary started student teaching at Central Elementary School in 2003, and has spent the last 16 years supporting students in the classroom, as a second grade and kindergarten teacher and as the IB coordinator. Now as the IB coordinator, Hillary gets to work closely with teachers, at all grade levels. “We meet weekly to look at the curriculum, the standards, student data, and the IB program itself. I enjoy collaborating with teachers to build relationships with students, create a transdisciplinary learning environment, and develop the whole child.” “I never thought about being a middle school or high school teacher,” Hillary recalls. “My calling was always with the younger kids, I felt a connection with them.” As she walks through the halls, you can hear little voices calling her name, “hi Mrs. Simonson,” and waving at her. Those are the connections Hillary has created during her time at Central. “The amount those kids can grow in a year is amazing, seeing them become little people in school is truly rewarding.”
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
DAVID GLOVER, LANGUAGE ARTS, OLDE COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL I teach because… “I like to help people. No matter what I’ve done in one capacity or another, it’s always been to help others.” David Glover grew up in Lyons and considers himself a product of St. Vrain Valley Schools. He initially moved to Thailand after the Tsunami of 2004 to volunteer and help rebuild homes, but after “missing my ticket back home, I ended up staying for three years, and that’s when I got into teaching.” David recalls the many opportunities he had to know what it felt like to be in a classroom. Upon his return from Thailand, David began school at the University of Colorado Boulder to get his teaching license and the rest is history. Now in his fifth year at Olde Columbine High School, when asked what his favorite subject is to teach, David doesn’t hesitate, “by far it’s English – I like how deeply we can explore the subjects, how there is always reading and writing skills, and literature to be discovered… there’s a lot of freedom to do really cool projects, freedom to work within the standards, and design a curriculum that is really exciting and engaging that allows kids to take risks.” David’s hope for his students is for them to love learning. “A lot of my students don’t have an identity as a writer, a reader, or a learner, but I want them to embrace that identity and realize that they have so much to offer.” David teaches project-based learning, which “allows students to take risks, practice real-world skills, and take on new roles – I like them to have fun and enjoy coming to class. That’s why I love coming to work every day, it’s really rewarding.” “This job challenges me on a daily basis – there are always new ways to learn and grow that can advance your classroom and help your students go further.” Watching David interact with his students, you can see the relationships he’s built with them and his passion for teaching. There are those moments when he receives messages from
Olde Columbine High Teacher, David Glover former students that are so rewarding. “I received a message from a student that is now in college, she thanked me for helping her get her life back on track.” David remembers his father’s words to him, “if you help other people, then life will be taken care of… it’s something I always carry with me.” Being part of the community he teaches in is something he values. “I love seeing my students in the community, I love to feel that I am part of the community I teach in. That is very important to me, it’s home.”
Timberline PK-8 Teacher, Kimberly Milbrath
KIMBERLY MILBRATH, SECOND GRADE, TIMBERLINE PK-8 I teach because… “I love the ‘aha’ moments with my students.” After 20 years of teaching and 12 years in St. Vrain, Kim reflects on the people that have had the biggest influence on her and the reasons why she pursued this path. “I knew at a young age that I always wanted to be a teacher,” shared Milbrath. “I remember turning our dining room into a classroom and begging my three younger brothers to be my students.” School always had a special meaning for Kim and she always looked up to her teachers, especially her fifth grade teacher. “I remember Mr. Albright being very funny and he taught in a way that made sense.”
To date, her love for teaching continues to grow, not only because she gets to follow her passion, but also learn from her students. “I believe every child can be successful. It’s our job to help them carve the path to success.” Walking through her classroom and listening to her read Charlotte’s Web, you can’t help but feel a sense of calm, and her desire to want every child to become successful. “Every student’s path is going to look different and they will hit bumps in the road in different places.” Building relationships with her students is something very important to Kimberly. It started 16 years ago when she was a fourth grade teacher. “I ran into a former student of mine in the library.” Although she doesn’t recall the whole conversation, she does remember telling him, “I know you are going to graduate one day, and when you do, I want you to call me.” Six years later, her former student found her, “he called to tell me that he was graduating high school and that he would be attending college in the fall.” Through tears, Kim explains how in that exact moment, “I could not imagine doing anything else as a career.” That was her “aha” moment. BEAU TOWNSEND, ART, ERIE MIDDLE SCHOOL I teach because... “I love the energy that exists in a school. I like being around people and seeing the accomplishments at the end of the day.” At the age of four, art was already becoming an important part of Beau Townsend’s world. “The neighbor down the street had her own art studio in her garage. I remember sitting and watching her paint, and eventually she would let me paint with her.” Early on, he knew he would like to teach art. “I always loved school. Throughout college, I considered myself a non-traditional student, but I was always interested in school.” When he started his first teaching job at Hygiene Elementary, he knew he had made the right career choice. Now, 21 years later, as Beau looks back at his career, “It’s all been a dream, it’s almost
surreal how fun it has been.” He often tells his students, “I’m not a natural artist, but I love it.’’ The exciting part for Beau is being able to see the students who normally are not interested in art, become engaged. When you walk into his classroom, not only do you see the students’ artwork throughout the space, but you get a glimpse of art history. Beau understands the importance of incorporating the history of art in his teaching – as a brief art history warm-up is a daily classroom priority. Years down the road, his students might not remember what they created, but “I tell them my hope is that you’ll travel to places like Europe, Chicago, or New York and visit museums, or perhaps you’ll want to hang great things on your own walls. Art is part of our culture, it’s part of our world – I want them to have an appreciation for that world.” When his fifth grade teacher visited him in class after 38 years, Beau couldn’t help but share the love he has for school, and teaching. “I feel a sense of accomplishment. The choice I’ve made for a career is very rewarding. I look back and think I have been very fortunate to be doing something that I love.”
By the Numbers E D U C A T O R S I N S T. V R A I N
of teachers have graduate degrees.
professional development credits earned by teachers and staff during the 2018-2019 academic year.
total employees in St. Vrain Valley Schools, all advancing public education in our community.
Erie Middle Teacher, Beau Townsend
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
By the Numbers
STUDENT WELL-BEING AND SAFETY
School Counselors, Psychologists, Interventionists, and Social Workers who are dedicated to supporting student mental health and overall well-being. St. Vrain Valley Schools added a counseling position to each high school, as well as increased counseling support at all elementary schools across the district.
School Resource Officers (SROs) who support student safety in every school across the district through strong partnerships with our local law enforcement agencies.
Campus Supervisors who support school administrators, SROs, teachers, and staff in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy school environment.
invested in school safety and security upgrades in the past ten years, including secured double-vestibule entrances, security cameras, and other building upgrades.
â€œA school is a place of learning and SROs are a part of that. We work collectively as a team with the school staff to ensure the success of every student.â€? DEPUTY ERIC UNDERWOOD SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER NIWOT HIGH SCHOOL
hours of safety training in the past year for campus supervisors, SROs, school leadership, and district administration. 33
Photo: 2019 Niwot High graduate, Johnny Carmona, is congratulated by Eric Underwood, School Resource Officer.
Heart and Mind
IN ST. VRAIN, STUDENT WELL-BEING AND SAFETY ARE AMONG OUR HIGHEST PRIORITIES. BY ANNA GERBER PHOTO BY KERRI MCDERMID
UR VISION FOR ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS is to cultivate a school experience that will inspire every student to effectively face the challenges of heart and mind so that they may become joyful, lifelong learners in a highlycompetitive, diverse world.” These words guide the work of St. Vrain’s Department of Student Services, one of many units throughout the district working to promote learning and well-being among all students and families. Student Services offers resources to ensure that teachers and staff are equipped to meet the evolving and diverse needs of their students. “Consistent social and emotional development supports positive learning outcomes for all students,” says Johnny Terrell, executive director of Student Services. “There is a strong connection between social-emotional skills and positive outcomes in academic performance, behavior, happiness, and mental health.” Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Across St. Vrain, schools at all levels utilize age-appropriate social curriculum – InFocus for elementary, 7 Mindsets for middle school, and Sources of Strength for high school – to teach students the social competencies necessary for academic and life success. To supplement this curriculum, Student Services provides in-depth training and support, resource sharing, discourse and dialog, and whole-staff training. “Our goal is to build the capacity of all district
employees through staff development that improves the learning of all the children we serve,” Terrell says. Recognizing the importance of overall well-being, St. Vrain has also increased the number of counselors and interventionists dedicated to supporting mental health. “We have made sure that all of our schools have some type of mental health support,” said Terrell. “Over the past few years we have added one counselor to every high school, and made sure that there is a counselor or interventionist at every one of our elementary schools.” In addition to increased SEL and mental health support, each high school in St. Vrain now has two School Resource Officers (SROs), career law enforcement officers who work in collaboration with schools. Through his role with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Eric Underwood is in his third year serving as SRO at Niwot High School. On paper, his job is to keep everyone at the school safe and to enforce the law. “We’re here to keep kids safe,” Underwood says. “St. Vrain’s School Resource Officers are not only key pieces to the schools in which we work, but to the communities as well.” But Deputy Underwood sees his role as being much bigger than that of a traditional law enforcement officer. He aims to be a resource to every student and family he encounters. By answering questions and offering advice, handing out high-fives, and cheering them on to graduation, Underwood builds a rapport with students. “A school is a place of learning and SROs are a part of that,” he says. “We work collectively as a team with the school staff to ensure the success of every student.” ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
These three people are doing amazing things with their lives, and they have one thing in common â€” they are all products of St. Vrain Valley Schools. BY EUNICE PEINADO PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ALUMNI
HESE THREE ALUMNI MAY HAVE THEIR OWN STORY, but one thing they have in common is that they are giving back to the community that helped them become who they are today – St. Vrain Valley Schools. Do you ever wonder what happened to that classmate that stood out to you the most? The one you would ride the bus with, or the athlete you looked up to in high school? How about the one that you just knew would one day change the world? These three alumni have made a name for themselves – each with their own journey through the St. Vrain community.
MAJOR GENERAL MARK SCHWARTZ Skyline High School CLASS OF 1983
ROM AN EARLY AGE, MILITARY SERVICE ALWAYS CAUGHT MAJOR GENERAL MARK SCHWARTZ’S ATTENTION – whether it was his grandfather’s service during World War II, or the encouragement he received from his best friend in college, or his military science professor, MG Schwartz knows that his life experiences guided him to a life of service. Mark began his service in 1986, and now 31 years later, he continues to be on active duty as a Major
General in the United States Army and a Special Forces Officer, assigned as the Commander, Special Operations Command Europe. Looking at his high school experience, MG Schwartz was sure he would go to college on a football scholarship. “Frankly, I was an average student and enjoyed the social side of high school more than the academic rigor,” admits MG Schwartz. Unfortunately an injury during his senior year changed his plans. “The colleges that were previously interested in me dropped off the net, they had no desire in recruiting a high school athlete who was severely injured – that was a wake-up call for me. I realized that I might actually have to get into college based on my academic performance,” recalls MG Schwartz. Skyline High School was known for its exceptional teachers. “They truly cared about the students and wanted us all to succeed,” he added. However, it wasn’t until MG Schwartz joined the ROTC in college, that he realized how much he enjoyed being around the military. “My life changed when I joined the ROTC, I became serious about academics – I had focus and a purpose.” During his time in ROTC, Mark remembers two Master Sergeants that inspired him to become a Green Beret when he was eligible to apply. Being part of the Special Forces, he has had the opportunity to serve around the world, and most importantly, he’s had the honor of serving with the finest men and women in the United States Army. “I love the Army,” he added. “I have honestly never had aspirations of being a General Officer. I have taken one assignment at a time and tried to serve the soldiers I am responsible for in the best way I know how.” MG Schwartz has a profound appreciation for the great mentors and leaders who have seen the potential he had when he himself didn’t see it, “for this, I am forever grateful.” Reflecting back on his high school experience, Coach Mike Flynn stands out the most. “He taught me more about dedication, commitment, and work ethic, than any other teacher or coach. I had a great high school experience because of the faculty at Skyline,” he recalled. “My advice for students is that academics are what matter and choose a career you are passionate about. I am passionate about the Army and the soldiers I serve with. I love what I do.”
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
GINA KING Niwot High School CLASS OF 1988
NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT BECOMING AN EXECUTIVE FOR THE COMPANY,” shared Gina King, who attended St. Vrain Valley Schools through high school, graduating from Niwot High in 1988. She remembers every day, her school bus would go by the IBM building, and “never in a million years” did she imagine her career trajectory would lead her to one of the globe’s top companies. Now as an executive for the Fortune 500 Company, Gina has had the opportunity to give back to the district by working with students who are part of the P-TECH program as an IBM mentor. “This program is giving students an opportunity to have exposure and give them a preview of what it might be like to work in that type of environment. This is a way I can give back to the community in which I grew up in.” Gina remembers a specific high school teacher that challenged her to reach her highest potential, “he really made me apply myself and realize how much more I was capable of.” Looking back at her own experiences as a student, she recalls how each opportunity in St. Vrain prepared her for future success. “I had teachers who inspired me to step up. If I could become an 37
executive for a company like IBM, anybody can do it – I want students to understand that through perseverance, determination, and focus, everyone can achieve great things.” Reflecting on the impact she is having today as a student mentor, Gina says that she “can see her students blossoming, and becoming more confident, and more grounded with technology.” Her hope is that students continue to be encouraged and take advantage of the many opportunities throughout St. Vrain because “there is a path for everyone, if they apply themselves they can really succeed… it’s a matter of not giving up and leveraging the things at your fingertips.”
DELFIN LOZANO Skyline High School CLASS OF 2003
OVING FROM PERU TO COLORADO, Delfin Lozano, 2003 graduate of Skyline High School, admits he was shocked with how “everything was different,” when he came to Colorado in 1999. He did not know what the expectations would be once he began school but quickly found a community ready to champion his success. “All my teachers made me feel welcomed, they were supportive.” Whether in Peru or in Colorado, Delfin always made sure his education was
a priority. “Once I obtained my technical degree, I knew I couldn’t stop there; I didn’t want my motivation and dreams to slip away.” After going back to school and earning his associate degree, “I realized I wanted to be more and do more with my life, that’s when I went back to school to earn my Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering; I became an engineer.” Shortly after, Delfin decided to move to Miami to earn his MBA. When he came back to Colorado, he says that he “realized that education itself was my motivation, I knew I wanted to have some sort of an impact” on the learning and success of others. Delfin launched QuestBotics Inc. three years ago in Longmont. It’s an organization that develops and manufactures technology to foster coding skills and STEAM learning in students ages three and older. “It may look simple, but in reality, it’s not,” shared Delfin. The QuestBot is a robot that builds math and logic skills, emphasizes teamwork, problemsolving, and communication, all in a fun, hands-on environment. The blue robot moves according to the code that the user creates with Qubes in a logical mathematical sequence to create a movement pattern, which is then placed on the accompanying QuestController. Kids interact with each other as they practice logic sequencing, refine coding skills, review the robot’s movements, and plan future adventures for the QuestBot. QuestBotics is currently being used in 70 schools throughout Colorado, as well as in Asia and Latin America. “My advice to students now is that they stay focused on achieving their goals and to find their passion. I want them to do something they are going to enjoy every day.” As he looks back on his accomplishments, Delfin realizes that “the only thing that helped me get to where I am today, was my education. I worked hard for so many years and learned so much; being able to pursue my dreams taught me to have an open mind, education itself became a big part of my life.”
“My advice to students now is that they stay focused on achieving their goals and to find their passion. I want them to do something they are going to enjoy every day.” DELFIN LOZANO SKYLINE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2003
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Excellence By Design BY CAROLINE GRUNDY PHOTOS BY AARON FORD AND CAROLINE GRUNDY
ALK INTO AN AFTERNOON PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSION at Thunder Valley K-8 and you will see over 60 teachers sitting in small groups discussing the afternoon’s theme of Collective Teacher Efficacy. Teachers analyze their interpretations of the term’s meaning and their experiences around how the school’s staff and educators’ shared belief in their ability to positively impact students has and will improve student achievement. The Frederick feeder represents an area of rapid growth; the system has evolved from two schools to seven schools over the last 15 years. Managing growth and student achievement can be challenging, and Frederick High Principal Brian Young points to time built into the school calendar for professional development as crucial to achieving next levels of success. Monthly late starts, split days, and after-school time allow for professional development, which increases colleagueship within each school and across the feeder system. In Frederick, a new professional development theme is chosen each year based on achieving the next level of success. According to Young, “we choose a new theme because we are always working on continuous improvement. Creating common expectations and practices that align with our district priorities is key to creating a seamless experience for students in St. Vrain.” This year’s professional development theme is around student empowerment with John 39
Photo: Madisan Drake, Thunder Valley K-8 teacher, participates in a Frederick feeder professional development course.
Spencer and A.J. Juliani’s Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning as the guiding text. “In the long run, we only hit what we aim for,” shares Ben Kalb, instructional technology coordinator for the Frederick feeder system. He refers to Henry David Thoreau’s famous quote when asked what Excellence by Design in St. Vrain means to him. Kalb insists, “no one is going to accidentally stumble on anything worth doing.” St. Vrain is a place where professional development, collaboration, and reaching for the next level of success is constant. Within the Frederick feeder and across St. Vrain Valley Schools, our students, teachers, staff, and community are intentionally setting goals to push the boundaries of excellence in public education. Kalb guides the content, pace, and choice element to the professional development theme and models each session to match the vision of how students should be learning. According to Kalb, “when you give both teachers and students voice and choice – there is a lot more ownership around their learning, which leads to increased engagement.” Teachers in St. Vrain follow the Blended Learning Model, which combines research-supported practices and quality online content. The Blended Approach puts the students at the center of their learning by giving them more control of the content, path, place, pace, and time of learning. Kalb states that when teachers are also given these opportunities, “there is a pollination of learning happening within the buildings and outside of the buildings – asynchronously online and in person.” Social media is another beneficial tool used to connect teachers across the Frederick feeder with the hashtag, #FrederickLearns, highlighting the learning happening across teachers’ classrooms. St. Vrain’s priority around professional development fosters strong teacher relationships and teacher collaboration. Through the Office of Professional Development, peer study teams of mixed grade levels and schools are created. In Frederick, Algebra 1 and Geometry math teachers plan their curriculum together. While the teachers are responsible for the same content at different schools and grade levels, they align the curriculum and expectations so all students are receiving the knowledge they need to be successful at the next grade level. At the opposite corner of St. Vrain Valley Schools is the smallest feeder in the district, Lyons. Made up are just over 700 students,
the feeder has taken on the mantra Small And Mighty. As principal of Lyons Middle Senior High, Dr. Andrea Smith shares, “there is no other school community as small as ours that has such incredible resources at our fingertips because we are part of the strong St. Vrain system.” While each feeder will have its own interpretation of St. Vrain’s Excellence By Design, there are common themes that arise. Smith says Excellence by Design is about, “intentionality and putting academic rigor at the forefront and being thoughtful about all of the experiences we want for our students.” Her co-leader, principal of Lyons Elementary, Photo (Above): Lyons Elementary fourth grade Andrew Moore, continues, “it’s about creating a shared students, Amanda Gonzalez and Max Maldari, vision and shared strategies amongst teachers, staff, and learn about aerial drone photography from community members to mobilize the entire system towards Lyons Middle Senior students, Nicholas shared goals. It’s about people being lined up and feeling that Johnson and Nathan Grobaski. Photo sense of unity and empowerment.” (Below Left): Amanda Gonzalez helps Piah Principal Moore points to student role models and grade level Gandh, kindergartener, learn how to experiences as key to engaging students as they advance through spell the names of colors. Photo (Below the system. Lyons Elementary has created annual grade level learning Right): Luke Vasquez, fourth grade rights of passages for students, such as the fourth grade students student, works with Sutter Schnabel. teaching their “Kinder Buddies” about the phases of the moon, the third graders leading the school “Macroinvertebrate Bio Blitz” to determine the health of the river system, and the fifth grade students raising and releasing trout from the school’s hatchery. Students look up to and look forward to having the same experiences as their older peers. The strong Lyons community extends beyond the school walls. Students at the high school meet with students at the elementary school once a month to facilitate leadership activities and scientific data collection. Elementary students support their older peers when the high schoolers regularly present data they have collected at the river to the local Town Ecology Board through a partnership to evaluate the health of the watershed and the effectiveness of the adaptive management plan. Smith shares that after one of the presentations, an elementary student said, “I can’t wait until I’m in high school and I get to be a leader and a mentor for the elementary students,” to which Moore responds, “the magic is working.”
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
VRAIN WAVES BY ANNA GERBER PHOTOS BY AARON FORD
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS IS RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND TEACHER TRAINING HOEVER YOU ARE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, AND WHENEVER IT IS – YOU ARE CATCHIN’ SOME VRAIN WAVES.” Each episode of Vrain Waves begins the same way – listeners are invited to catch some “Vrain Waves” (a play on words for brainwaves) brought to them “from the banks of the St. Vrain River in almostalways sunny Longmont, Colorado.” The audio podcast’s co-hosts Becky Peters and Ben Kalb are dynamic, well-prepped, and witty as they host conversations with “edu-celebrities” and thought leaders who are shaping education. The finished product is an engaging, accessible, and entertaining 45-minute conversation that connects and inspires teachers throughout St. Vrain and beyond. 41
Peters, St. Vrain’s Coordinator of School Support, and Kalb, an Instructional Technology Coordinator, are both former classroom teachers. The two met through a district leadership group for school support professionals, where they were able to share research, trends, and education best practices with their peers. Through that group, they realized the value of finding the time to interact and share ideas with their colleagues. “There are so many amazing things happening in public education,” says Peters. “We wanted a way to share that more broadly with the world.” With approximately 60 schools spread over 411 square miles, the pair is tasked with overcoming geography to offer an informative resource that supports busy teachers. To do so, they interview people
they call “giants” in education and other disciplines, like business and psychology, usually spending around 4-6 hours preparing by reading their guests’ books and collaborating on questions. “We want to make it applicable to counselors, principals, building leaders, staff, and parents,” says Peters. “We try to get a good sampling of people who have written books or done research, and keep each episode a balance of theory, ideas, and practical applications that somebody can use the next day in class.” Over the past two years, Vrain Waves has hosted conversations with some impressive names, including bestselling author and former vice presidential speechwriter Daniel Pink, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, bestselling author and
business professor Dan Heath, and Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo. Topics range from thoughtful explorations of leadership development and pedagogical theory to helpful tips and tricks for harnessing creativity, utilizing technology, and maximizing energy. What started as a fun way to connect a big school district has now grown into a podcast with listeners in all 50 U.S. states and more than 80 countries around the world. It has also become the largest professional development class in St. Vrain, with more than half of all district teachers earning credits toward their relicensure requirements by listening and writing thoughtful reflections. Teachers around the state can also take advantage of the portability of the unique professional development format to earn credit that is certified by the Colorado Department of Education. Alpine Elementary School kindergarten teacher, Elizabeth Lennert, was introduced to Vrain Waves as part of an assignment for a leadership class she took two years ago.
Since then, she has continued to listen as she earns professional development credit and explores new ideas that impact her teaching. “I really like being introduced to leaders in the teaching industry and their writings,” said Lennert. “I often learn of books, blogs, and other podcasts that dig deeper into the topics that I’m introduced to on Vrain Waves.” In addition to new resources, the topics on Vrain Waves have given Lennert valuable references with real life applications. “When colleagues and the leadership team at my school are faced with problems or concerns, I can offer advice by referencing a Vrain Waves episode that I have listened to and how other experts have approached the same problem.” “We want to help teachers keep their practice fresh, to see their practice in a different light, or to feel that they have a greater level of efficacy in their room and with their students,” says Peters. “I think that makes a big difference for all kids who have teachers who are listening.”
Photo: Becky Peters and Ben Kalb record an episode of their biweekly podcast Vrain Waves.
Podcast /ˈpädˌkast/ A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. • Download and listen on Google or Apple Podcasts • New episodes released every other Monday at 5:00 a.m. • Episode runtime: 40-60 minutes • Join the conversation on Twitter: @VrainWaves • Notable guests - Daniel Pink, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dan Heath, Sylvia Acevedo, Cal Newport http://stvra.in/vrainwaves
“There are so many amazing things happening in public education. We wanted a way to share that more broadly with the world.” BECKY PETERS COORDINATOR OF SCHOOL SUPPORT
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Bond and Finance Update In November 2016, the St. Vrain Valley community approved a $260 million bond to address rapid continued growth, enhance school safety, and ensure that St. Vrain Valley Schools can continue our commitment to excellence in serving our community. This vote recognized that our community values public education, champions the success of our students, and has strong trust and confidence in the future of our district. Bond projects are on schedule – or in many cases, ahead of schedule – as the district operations and finance departments work diligently to stay ahead of inflation and rising construction costs to ensure that we are receiving the highest value and return on our community’s investment in our schools. LEARN MORE AT SVVSD.ORG/BOND
Timeline of Major Bond Projects Note: this is not a comprehensive list of bond projects. SUMMER 2017
FALL 2017 Eagle Crest and Blue Mountain classroom additions completed
Groundbreaking: Soaring Heights PK-8, Grand View Elementary, and the Innovation Center
2021 Construction begins for projects at: Central Elementary, Hygiene Elementary, Westview Middle, Spark! Discovery Preschool, Longmont Estates Elementary, Lyons Middle Senior High, Centennial Elementary, Sunset Middle, Columbine Elementary, Rocky Mountain Elementary, and Thunder Valley K-8
Construction begins on new addition at Mead High
2020 Construction begins for projects at: Erie Middle, Erie Elementary, Main Street, Trail Ridge Middle, Indian Peaks Elementary, Altona Middle,Timberline PK-8, and Burlington Elementary Construction scheduled for completion for new Mead Elementary
Design work begins for construction projects at: Erie High, Silver Creek High, Coal Ridge Middle, Fall River Elementary, Alpine Elementary, Legacy Elementary, St. Vrain Community Montessori, and others
Construction begins for improvements and additions to charter school facilities: Aspen Ridge Preparatory Academy, Imagine Charter School, Twin Peaks Charter Academy, and Carbon Valley Academy
2019 Construction projects scheduled for completion at: Mountain View Elementary, Longs Peak Middle, Sanborn Elementary, Black Rock Elementary, Niwot High, and previously mentioned projects Groundbreaking: new Mead Elementary
2018 Design work begins for construction projects at: Skyline High, Mead Middle, Mead Elementary, Northridge Elementary, Sanborn Elementary, Longmont High, Main Street, and others
Construction projects scheduled for completion at: Lyons Elementary, Erie High, Silver Creek High, Prairie Ridge Elementary, Grand View Elementary, Soaring Heights PK-8, the Innovation Center, the Career Development Center, and previously mentioned projects
ALL 2016 BOND PROJECTS ARE SCHEDULED FOR COMPLETION BY 2022. 43 MAGAZINE.SVVSD.ORG
• S&P bond rating of AA+ and a Moody’s bond rating of Aa2 • Enrollment has grown by 5,260 since October 2010 • Fortune 500-level corporate sponsors and community partnerships • National financial award – annual reporting, 15 consecutive years
General Fund Sources and Use
St. Vrain Valley Schools outperformed the 2008 bond by more than $22 million. Funds were reinvested in school buildings throughout the district. Since 2010, the district has refinanced bonds to lower interest rates, saving taxpayers more than $36 million over the life of the bonds. In October of 2018, the remaining $60.3 million in bonds of the $260.3 million 2016-approved authorization were sold. Savings on combined principal and interest payments over the life of both 2016 issuances amounted to more than $21 million compared to what was originally approved by taxpayers per ballot language. Bond spending is overseen by an accountability committee of community members and the district.
Central Support and Admin
How Funds are Used
Funding Sources 14.69% Mill Levy Override
Specific Other Local Ownership Revenue Tax
Other State Revenue
Direct Classroom Instruction and School Building and Classroom Support
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
St. Vrain Valley Public Schools RE-1J 395 S. Pratt Parkway Longmont, CO 80501
students who are the future of America.
7th largest school district in Colorado.
square miles serving 13 communities across 4 counties.
ST. VRAINNOVATION was produced in-house by the district communications team. This and other district initiatives are generously supported by:
employees dedicated to advancing the success of our students.
schools and programs, including: 24 elementary schools, 8 middle schools, 9 high schools, 1 middle senior school, 1 K-8 school, and 2 PK-8 schools.