Superintendent Offers Challenges for New School Year

Barry Offers Challenges on First Day of SchoolAPS teachers and staff welcomed students back for the new school year on Aug. 5. Superintendent John Barry started his day at 5 a.m. greeting transportation staff and giving media interviews. He then rode the bus with Aurora Hills Middle School students and visited Paris Elementary. Principal Nancy Williams, APS board members Jeanette Carmany and Mary Lewis, and Barry hosted a welcome back kick-off at the brand new Aurora Quest K-8. Mayor Ed Tauer, Aurora Chamber President Kevin Hougen and AEA President Brenna Isaacs joined the festivities at the new school. Barry invited every member of the APS community to be involved in supporting students through a series of challenges and kudos to last year's success stories. Below is Mr. Barry's list of challenges:
  • Students: Last year, I challenged students to read more books. I want to issue the same challenge this year. Elementary students, please read 25 books. Middle and high school students, please read 10 books. The first 100 elementary and the first 50 secondary classes that meet this challenge will earn prizes from local businesses.
    • More than 2,000 students met the challenge to read 25 books last year. At Crawford Elementary, every class from kindergarten through fifth grade participated in this challenge. Crawford had the highest number of students who completed the challenge - 454 reading champions. My congratulations to Crawford Principal Debbie Gerkin and her wonderful school staff and students.
  • Principals: I once again challenge you to increase the percentage of proficient students in all CSAP categories by 3 percent. Congratulations to the 21 schools that saw a 3 percent or better improvement on their CSAP scores. (View these schools and other CSAP results)
    • Congratulations to Jewell Elementary principal Mark Rodie, Murphy Creek principal Suzanne Morey, Tollgate principal Laurie Godwin and Aurora Frontier principal Cassie Parra and their staff and students for meeting this challenge for the past two years.
    • Congratulations also to principal Nancy Williams, and Aurora Quest K-8 staff and students. Aurora Quest has the highest proficiency rate in the state, and eight of their nine CSAP tests had perfect performance. Aurora Quest is rated the best elementary school in the state. Look out for what Quest staff and students achieve as a K-8!
  • Business leaders and community members: Please accept the challenge to provide scholarships for our students through the Aurora Public Schools Education Foundation. You can make a donation today.
  • Parents: Please accept the challenge to volunteer at your child's school at least 20 hours during the school year. We will be using a new Web tracking system, PTO Manager, which will make it easier for parents to sign up for volunteer opportunities. Last year, parents volunteered nearly 19,000 hours in our schools.
    • Congratulations to Aurora Hills Middle School PTO managers Jan Patrick and Maureen Hampson. Under their leadership, the school has a model parent volunteer program.
  • The Aurora Education Association, the APS teachers' union, is once again joining me in challenging teachers to visit one student at home.
    • Kudos to East Middle School Principal Fred Quinonez and East staff members. Just last week, they went door-to-door to meet their students and families.
  • All APS Staff Members: Please again accept the challenge to mentor one child for the school year. Last year, APS staff members mentored more than 800 students. Let's expand it to 2,000 students this year.
    • Big Brothers/Big Sisters will join our mentoring program this year. A special thank you to Denis Murstien, Chief Operating Officer from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, for leading this effort.
  • First Day of School Kick-OffElected officials and community members: Please accept the challenge to continue to be leaders who are readers. I ask you to visit one school and read to our students. Last year we had more than 100 guest readers.
  • Community Members: APS will continue to tackle truancy this year. Truancy is not a challenge that is unique to Aurora. We've simply made truancy reduction a priority, and thanks to your help, we've had much success. Community members, I once again ask for your help to ensure that our students are in school every day. If you see a student during the day, please ask them why they're not in school. Let them know that every member of community cares about their success.
    • There has been much success in this area.
      • 78% of our schools showed some decrease in the number of habitual truants.
      • We have reduced the number of habitual truants across the district by 5.7%