In a packed auditorium at the beginning of the busy school year, staff members in the Roaring Fork School District were asked to “tell your story.”
With 760 employees and 5,000 students in the district’s three communities, spreading the good news of learning and success requires a lot of telling and lots of listening.
One such story unfolded during Family Reading Night last week at Crystal River Elementary School, where fourth-grader Miriam Salvidrez proudly showed off her new book to her parents, Angel and Cecilia. A few years ago, reading was not as positive for Miriam, whose parents were called into school to talk about her lagging skills. Last year Miriam worked hard to gain three years of reading growth in just one school year through plenty of individualized attention. She received support through an ELL class, attended after-school tutoring and participated in Power Lunch with a volunteer adult reader.
Miriam now is an enthusiastic book-lover who reads at home each night with the support of her family and teachers.
Glenwood Springs High School teacher Adriana Ayala recently was named the English as a Second Language teacher of the year in Colorado, but the stories she likes to tell are the successes of students. She talks about 2005 GSHS graduate and current Colorado Mountain College student Arturo Ponciano who was abandoned at age 5 by his mother and later abandoned at age 12 by his father. With school support and a caring foster mom, a resilient Ponciano maintained a 3.3 GPA in high school, now plays soccer for CMC and dreams of becoming a pediatrician.
Arahana Contreras is another GSHS graduate who was encouraged by Ayala and the high school’s Latin American Students United group to take responsibility for her own education. She transformed herself from a freshman who was often in trouble with low grades into a straight-A student leader who was named Miss Strawberry Days 2005. Now she is a scholarship student studying at CMC to become an elementary school teacher.
Engaging teachers and the tales they tell are often the keys to learning. Consider Glenwood Springs Elementary teacher Rita Merrigan, who tells students interesting stories of her amazing experience spent teaching school last year in Bogota, Colombia. Or fellow GSES teacher Karen Hall who educates local children about the problems of world hunger after spending time in Honduras this summer touring communities aided through Heifer International.
Just one of many district principals excited to tell a story of increasing student achievement is Jim Waddick at Basalt High School, who recently received a letter from the Colorado Department of Education that recognized the school as a “gain-maker” in math. BHS students have shown notable growth on math CSAP scores for three years in a row. The principal attributes those gains to problem-solving-based math-instruction classes added every school day for ninth- and 10th-graders.
The districtwide Bridges High School experienced similar success as a gain-maker in math. Principal Lyn Bair is just as elated about how well Bridges teacher Ronnda Kuhr inspires a love of reading. Kuhr, who has a master’s degree in secondary literacy, has helped Bridges achieve 100 percent of students testing at grade level or beyond in reading.
Parents and community members are invited to witness the stories of learning and success unfold in person by visiting or volunteering at any of the district’s 13 campuses.
Suzie Romig is the public information officer for the Roaring Fork School District.
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