Julie Warnke: Help teachers better serve their students
I have proudly been a Spanish teacher in the Steamboat Springs School District for nearly 20 years.
When I arrived here to teach in 2000, our student population at the middle school was around 400, and now, we are at 645 students. We must recognize and remember that these are not just numbers, but they are students who all deserve the very best education.
Families are moving here, and will continue to do so, because of the outstanding reputation of our school district. However, our facilities directly influence the quality of the education we can provide.
At the middle school, we have transformed almost every extra closet and corner in our school to either an office or a classroom; we even have a teacher using the stage as a classroom. Thanks to our outstanding leadership, we have been able to face these space challenges and adapt our teaching to these changes.
However, it has taken a toll on our staff morale. I was sick far more often due to construction fall-out. Most of us eat lunch in our classrooms, as we do not have a lounge large enough for groups, thus sacrificing our staff relationships and community spirit. We miss those casual yet critical conversations about how we can best serve our students.
Our students also feel the space crunch in core classes that have begun to push to 30 students. Furthermore, we have to use our stage area as part of our cafeteria and have added many tables outside the area for those who need a quiet space to eat and connect with friends. The students and staff have very little privacy and few quiet spaces due to the overcrowding of outdated facilities.
At this very moment before the school day starts, I have students waiting at my door to come in, because they have nowhere else to go. Yet despite all these challenges, we have maintained excellence because of our intrinsically driven administration, teachers and staff. However, this is simply not sustainable for the long term.
We need better salaries, a new school and to add to existing buildings now. We are already well beyond capacity, and it is harming our students’ education.
I want the best for my three young children, and I want the best for yours. Help us to better serve our students so we can provide them with the love, nurturing and education they deserve.
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