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Back to Class

Teachers, administrators spend busy summer getting ready for tomorrow

Kelly Silva

Letters of the alphabet are taped to the walls and the windows in classrooms at Soda Creek Elementary.

Elizabeth “Niffy” Bube’s classroom has assignment planners and name tags on every desk and a decorated door welcoming students to a new school year.

At the high school, life-size posters welcoming students back and cheering on the Sailors athletics teams hang in the commons area.

The halls have been scrubbed. Books and papers sorted. Faculty and staff have spent weeks preparing.

In 24 hours, children will be preoccupied with homework and after-school programs and the days of summer will be just memories.

School starts Monday.

Just as students get excited, nervous and anxious about the first day of school, so do teachers and administrators.

Preparing the Team

For administrators, Monday will be the chance to begin practicing some of what they spent the summer learning.

Steamboat administrators spent three days earlier this month in Breckenridge for a workshop on how to better analyze student and teacher work. The workshop cost the district $5,700. Thirty-six people from around the country gathered in the resort town to understand how administrative teams can work together more efficiently.

“We looked at protocols for analyzing student work and how to fine tune that work,” said John DeVincentis, Strawberry Park Elementary principal. “We worked on a collaborative team approach to solving problems.”

The intent of the workshop was to educate administrators on how to approach teachers and students on the work they’re doing.

DeVincentis said the training was important for the group, which includes several new administrators this year.

The administrative team also got together locally for a two-day retreat to go over the “nuts and bolts” of the school year, and to reiterate that working together will create a more efficient school system.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms said it was important for the team to collaborate on the creation of action plans for all four schools in the district. “We want all four schools to be moving in the same direction on behalf of the students,” Simms said.

Collaborating on future goals for the year also was a major component of the retreat.

“We realized we could do more things together. That was the intent of the whole meeting,” DeVincentis said. “It’s to have us be more thoughtful on the work we’re doing.”

Because the state requires that each school prepare their school accountability goals for the year by Sept. 1, DeVincentis said teachers and administrators collaborated last week to put those out in time.

The school accountability goals include the virtues, success/self-realization, reading and writing goals for the year.



Soda Creek Elementary Principal Judy Harris said a team of teachers and administrators have been working for the last two years to devise a plan on setting new curriculum outlines for the language arts, math, science and social studies.

“This will be defining what kids need to be able to do at a certain grade level,” Harris said of the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade outline. In her new position as principal, Harris said she’s been doing a lot of listening to prepare for the school year.

One of the things she’s most excited about is the good condition students will find the Soda Creek building in when they arrive Monday.

“Our custodial crew spent all summer getting ready for this year,” Harris said. “It’s just awesome. It’s clean and bright and shiny.”

Harris said the biggest change outside of the building is an improvement to what most people know as the loop at Soda Creek.

“We implemented a new plan starting Monday,” Harris said. “It’s to reduce congestion and provide better access.”

Parents shouldn’t be surprised if they see a new face regulating the traffic loop. Kathy Nerney will now be in charge of helping students out of cars and into the building and keeping traffic at a steady pace.

At Strawberry Park, much of the school remains the same, though there will be new faces among the faculty.

“We have new personnel, but not really any other changes or new preparations,” DeVincentis said. “Teachers are already in their classrooms getting prepared.”

Summer Work

Classroom preparations typically don’t get under way until about two weeks before the first day of school, but mental and physical preparation never ends.

Bube said many teachers begin preparing for the next school year in May and June.

Grade-level teams meet throughout the summer to update plans.

For instance, Bube taught fifth grade last year and is now teaching third grade. She said she met with the third- and fifth-grade teams so that all grade levels are on the same page with what works for students and what doesn’t.

“We continue our own education over the summer as far as technology and curriculum,” Bube said. “And many teachers are working on their master’s degrees.”

Dress For Success

Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop said he plans on having an informative and fun lesson on the middle school’s new dress code.

“We’ll visually show them what they can wear in a runway fashion,” Bishop said.

Plans for the fashion show already are under way, but Bishop said he would probably wait a week or so in order for students and teachers to get comfortable.

“It’s going to be new. We have to get the word out,” Bishop said.

Students, parents and staff collectively prepared a “Dress for Success” plan for the middle school to be followed for academic and extracurricular activities.

New Faces

At Steamboat Springs High School, students will see many new faces among the faculty. There are 16 new teachers at the school, nearly a third of the staff.

“We’ve been doing a lot of hiring. That’s probably our biggest change,” Principal David Schmid said. “We have people teaching new things.”

The high school uses a high level of integrated team teaching so one of the challenges has been integrating the veteran staff members with new teachers.

Administrative retreats with the teachers have helped the new teachers become acquainted with their colleagues, Schmid said.

The district-wide orientation for new staff was held last week. More than 40 new teachers and support staff were there.

Different members of the district introduced themselves and welcomed the newcomers to Steamboat, while giving them a small history lesson of the school district and an overview of pay and benefits.

The district also had an all-staff welcome back breakfast Friday morning. Simms and others introduced the new staff to the rest of the faculty and informed them of the plans made over the summer.

Simms said they mentioned completing a salary schedule for faculty and staff before the school year began and the possibility of adding an updated cost of living issue on the

November ballot.

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