Principal

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This year marks my fifth year serving as the Ridgway Elementary School Principal and my 29th year in public education. We are expecting 170 students for the 2017-18 school year, 30 of whom are preschoolers. There are two class sections of kindergarten, third and fifth grade and the remaining grades have one section. Our average size is 15 students and we are proud of it!

Our staff is comprised of 18  professionally licensed teachers, four paraprofessionals, two 4 support staff and 1 office manager. We have a HIGHLY TALENTED STAFF who are committed to improving their practice each and every year. 

Outdoor and experiential education (ODEE) continues to be a district goal. We are proud to offer our students the opportunity to connect with nature, local resources and regional learning opporutinities with a minimum of one ODEE trip per year. Last year the district hired a local professional and two teachers to help develop the program througout the district. 

The preschool has been teaching the Pyramid social emotional curriculum for four years. This program is such an incredible success that is is now used in Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Norwood, Nucla, Naturita and Paradox preschools. This is the most age-appropriate and common sense way to teach our youngest students how to ask for help, initiate play, solve their own problems and develop friendships. The only downside to the model is that there is not written curriculum beyond preschool.......so we decided to develop our own. With the help of Coach Lana Kevan, the teachers from preschool through second grade met monthly to slowly develop and implement the Pyramid Model throughout our primary classrooms. We plan to further develop our implementation this year!

In March of 2017 we received the JOHN IRWIN SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD form the Colorado Department of Education. This was the first time Ridgway Elementary has received this award which means we are in the top 8% of elementary schools in Colorado. This was accomplished by our excellent teachers working together to implement a meaningful, consistent curriculum based on Colorado State Standards. I'm proud to say that our staff has put more time into planning student projects, daily reading and writing, hands-on science units and building connections with students rather than focusing on test prep. This award also recognizes the strong student and parent community in Ridgway who  support public education.

This year also marks our fourth 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 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. 

Reading is one of THE MOST important skills we teach in elementary school. We have two goals in mind when teaching reading. The first is to make sure all students can independently read and comprehend grade level material. The second goal is to help students develop a love of reading. The only way to do this is by providing consistent, uninterrupted 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 and great student. We know that if our students become strong readers in elementary schoosl, 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 ongoing 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 continue to hold high expectations of students and staff 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 to read with students, help in the library and attend field trips. 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 meets monthly after school. 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. However, we have a very thorough screening process for school volunteers just as we do for school employess. While it may appear to be an arduous proces, you only have to complete it once with the ultimate goal of protecting our students. Please contact Autumn Bailey in the district office to learn about becoming an approved volunteer. 

As the year progresses and you have questions for your child's teacher, I urge you to send an email or stop in for a visit. While teachers may not have time to answer an important question at the start of the day, they welcome your questions and perspective as a parent. When parents ask questions they often learn more about their child's academic program than expected. Please don't wait to parent-teacher conferences to find answers to your questions.

If you would like to visit with me, please contact me via phone 626-5468 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. I welcome your insight, suggestions, questions and comments. Research shows that THE most powerful predictor of a child's academic success is parent involvement. If I can help you in supporting your student please feel free to contact me or your child's teacher. 

Here's to a great year at Ridgway Elementary!