This year marks my fourth year serving as the Ridgway Elementary School Principal and my 28th year in public education. We expecting 154+ students in preschool through fifth grade. Our staff is comprised of 17 licensed professional teachers, four paraprofessionals, 4 support staff and 1 admin assistant. We have a HIGHLY TALENTED STAFF who are committed to improving their practice every year.
Outdoor and experiential education (ODEE) is a district goal this year. While we have many trips that offer our students the opportunity to connect with nature, local resources and regional learning opporutinities, this is not consisitent in all grade levels. It is my goal that by the end of the year each grade level will have one or more ODEE activites established. Be on the look out for more information this year.
The preschool has been teaching the Pyramid social emotional curriculum for four years. Teachers have attended numerous trainings and have been coached with funding from Bright Futures for Children. Due to these efforts Amy Rutherford (preschool director) and Sarah MacCraiger (lead teacher) have reached the highest level of implementation. The Pyramid Model includes excellent parent outreach in the form of parent trainings offered in the evenings throughout the year. Based on this success, we have decided to grow the Pyramid Model into Kindergarten, First and Second Grades this year. While there is no written curriculum, we are working closely together to ensure that the excellent skills our preschoolers learn are not lost when the enter the big school.
This year also marks our third year of implementing the Bridges Math Program. Teachers are highly invested in this program and appreciate the hands-on nature of the program. Students are required to do much more thinking and writing about the math processes they use (rather than memorizing the steps of division or mulitplication). This approach is reflected in the revised Colorado Academic Standards and in our state assessments. Parents, if you become puzzled or frustrated by the work your child is bringing home, please reach out to a teacher to learn more. Teachers have told me how much they would appreciate this rather than having parents teach their children how they learned math.
Teaching reading is one of the MOST important things teachers do in elementary school. We have two goals in mind when teaching reading. The first is to make sure all students can independently grade level material. The second goal is to help students develop a love of reading. The only way to do this is by providing a lot of time for students to read books that they have selected every single day. Each year our classroom libraries grow to ensure we have a variety of books for students. Once reading becomes "fun" for students, they are on their way to becoming great readers. We know that if our students become strong readers in elementary school, their future years in middle, high school and college will be easier.
As a principal my goal is to ensure a safe and warm learning environment for all students and staff. The next goal is to help provide high-quality, standards-based instruction for all students each and every day. This is an on-going goal slowly accomplished by working with teachers, administrators as well as reading professional journals and consulting with experts in education as well as representatives from the Colorado Department of Education. I am always seeking the best teaching practices to meet the many standards we are required to teach. There are so many educational programs and curriculums offered, yet I am looking for what is best for our students and staff. I want to have high expectations while protecting the innocence and joy of learning in an elementary school.
Parent volunteer opportunities are alive and well at RES. Teachers often ask for parent volunteers, Friends of Ridgway School (FORS) works hard to fund-raise and support the needs of our teachers as well as building positive school spirit. FORS meets the first Wednesday of each month at the elementray school and has a page within the school website. The elementary parent advisory group will be new this year. The goal of this group is to increase the discussion about school initiatives with parents and the school. We are always in need of parents for field trips and special events. Please contact Autumn Bailey in the district office to learn about the process to become an approved volunteer.
I look forward to a very productive school year filled with academic and personal growth for all who attend our school.