Across the Street column: Colorado schools have some remarkable programs |

Across the Street column: Colorado schools have some remarkable programs

Joyce Rankin
Larry Laszlo |

As a new member of the seven member state Board of Education, I’ve been visiting school districts and doing a lot of listening. I’ve met some wonderful educational professionals, and I’ve learned a lot about Western Colorado schools and the challenges we face. I believe the average taxpayer would be amazed by the innovative, forward-thinking programs in our schools.

Superintendent Bruce Hankins, from Dolores County (Dove Creek and Rico), has a Journey of Discovery program. His K-12 curriculum focuses on students accepting responsibility for their actions by adopting consistent strategies for behaviors. With very reliable, repeated actions understood and practiced by all adults and students, good results are emerging in academic expectations and accomplishments.

West End Public Schools’ Superintendent Mike Epright has challenges facing his small, 260-student school district, which includes Nucla and Naturita. Sixty students ride a school bus 45 minutes one way to attend a charter school in Paradox.

Steve Schultz, Superintendent in Mesa County District 50, operates the 12th largest school district in the state with more than 21,000 students. The district has a unique partnership with Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College to provide a PreK-20 experience. Programs include innovative teaching combined with technology for blended learning opportunities.

I was very proud to attend a presentation for Leticia Guzman Ingram, named Teacher of the Year in Colorado. She teaches English language development at Basalt High School and will travel to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House and compete for the national award.

However, even with the bright spots, results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are in and results are disappointing. Colorado students, although slightly higher than the national average, are not improving in math and reading as we had hoped. On Nov. 12, the highly anticipated Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) test scores will be made public.

Our Western Slope teachers and administrators are working hard to meet the continued challenges of new standards, curriculum and testing. I’ll take what I’ve learned to the next state board meeting and continue to listen to educators in the 3rd Congressional District.

Across the Street will appear monthly.

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