There’s an all new leadership team at North Routt Charter School
School's executive director resigned last school year
The new leadership team at North Routt Community Charter School wants to focus on rebuilding staff culture after the school’s executive director resigned during last school year.
Amy Cosgrove, who has been with the school for 19 years, now in a newly created role called academic dean, said staff became “splintered” during the pandemic.
“Now, we’re working really hard to rebuild that trust and that open communication with the staff,” Cosgrove said. “We’re trying to build back that school community, along with the larger community.”
The school’s former executive director Brandon LaChance resigned in November, following an investigation into complaints “of a school personnel matter.” Following the investigation, the school’s Board President Kim Smith said changes were necessary, though she asserted LaChance chose to leave on his own.
At a meeting with parents last year, Smith said the board would revisit policies and work to improve the culture among the school’s teachers. Head of school Jamie Passchier, who took on that role this spring, said they are trying to recenter on the school’s vision.
“We as a team have spent a lot of just rebuilding our staff culture — getting to know who we are, what we do and going back to our school vision,” Passchier said. “I’m not trying to blame everything on COVID, but it got a little muddled for a bit there and we need to bring it back.”
Passchier estimates about half the staff has turned over in the last two years. Cosgrove said she thought it may be higher. While turnover can be challenging, it has advantages too.
“It’s great to hold onto traditions and norms,” said Kaley Meagher, the new director of the school’s early childhood program, which saw all its staff leave last year. “It’s nice because we can start fresh and we’re all growing together as a team. We’re building our own norms.”
The idea that no one is a passenger, rather everyone is part of the crew has long been at the center of the school’s vision. Passchier said students have crew camps planned for the start of the year, staff have their own crew time set aside and every week all grades come together for a school-wide crew session.
“Studies show when students feel like they belong within a classroom — they belong within a crew — how much higher they perform academically,” Cosgrove said, who said a large part of her new role is staff development.
One of the most popular activities at the weekly crew session is a full-school game of hide and go seek. Carlie Pedrini, the school’s new budget manager whose children attend North Routt, said these events really allow students to collaborate across all ages.
“It just really gets the whole community feeling good,” Pedrini said.
The school had a barbecue earlier this month to invite parents in to meet new leadership, and they have had family workdays allowing parents and students to meet new teachers. Students’ first day is on Monday, Aug. 29.
“A crew that plays together stays together,” Cosgrove said. “Climate and culture is a huge part of our school, and we want to continue to build it in a positive way.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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