South Routt schools create new honor to encourage district engagement |

South Routt schools create new honor to encourage district engagement

— When first-year South Routt School District Superintendent Darci Mohr officially took over last summer, she wasted little time compiling a to-do list for her inaugural year.

Near the top of that list was continuing to shrink the communications gap between the community and the school, an ambitious idea, and certainly one that’s not easy to achieve.

“Our school board had talked to me early on about getting more parent and community engagement, and it’s always a difficult thing to do,” Mohr said.

One idea Mohr had was to create a new form of recognizing standout students, staff, teachers and even community members.

The schools will retain their regular forms of recognition, like student honor roll, but Mohr wanted to highlight those who are helping make the district a healthier place to learn, inside and outside the classroom.

Potential recipients, which can include students, their parents, district employees or community members, can be nominated by anybody, Mohr said. Those nominated and selected are recognized at the district’s monthly school board meetings. Mohr said the new program helps reward those deserving of recognition, and in turn, has attracted a larger crowd to meetings that were often sparsely attended.

“One of our biggest goals is partnering more,” Mohr said. “It helps to get that feedback. What’s been nice about this is because we’re a smaller district, we allow questions from the crowd, and the board interacts one on one with them. By broadening this, it has allowed us to have more interaction with people who come to the meetings.”

The district’s first recognition went to the South Routt community as a whole for overwhelmingly approving the school district’s mill levy extension in November, which will continue providing property tax revenue that goes directly to the schools.

Students in Randy Homan’s Soroco High School business class were also recognized for their performance in the fall’s Stock Market Experience challenge, where freshman Jonah Jonas beat out more than 3,000 Colorado students for first place.

Recently, Soroco girls varsity basketball coach David Bruner and his squad were honored in front of the board, not for their stellar season on the court, but for their compassion off of it. When senior Laramie Parker was rushed into emergency surgery during one of the most critical weeks of the season, the Rams cut their Wednesday practice short, boarded a bus driven by Bruner and spent the evening with Parker at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

“They were honored and recognized for seeing the importance in taking care of family over competitions,” Mohr said. “They’re teaching the kids the right thing with the right messages through athletics.”

So far, the strategy to bridge that district-community gap is working, the superintendent said.

And when the community turns out for board meetings, they stay.

“It’s becoming more popular and more utilized,” Mohr said. “It’s bringing more people into the board meetings, and they’re staying a little bit, and they are engaging.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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