Welcome to the April 2018 edition of the
APS Board of Education Newsletter!
We hope that everyone was able to take a little bit of a break during the spring break week and that teachers, students, and staff are recharged to finish the year out on a high note. We know that there are big decisions on the horizon, and we want everyone to know that we are listening and only want to make the decisions that are best for APS, the students and the teachers. We wish everyone success for the remainder of the school year!
- Marques Ivey, J.D., APS Board President
Key Board News
The Board recently took action on the District and School Uniform Improvement Plans. The Board is highly focused on making sure that school and district staff are on the same page for improvement.
The Board was also given an update on the current status of legislation with respect to school funding, and we are committed to ensuring that the necessary programs will be funded appropriately.
On April 10, we will be holding a retreat to discuss the Board goals for the district. Look for Board members to come out of the retreat with a greater focus on student achievement in APS.
Finally, the Board plans to hold discussions on policy and budget at our regular meetings in the upcoming months. Please note that these items and dates are subject to modification based on changing circumstances. Check our BoardDocs website for final agendas. We hope you will join us!
Out and About - Board Members in Our Schools and Community
Girl Rising Program
I had the pleasure of being a table facilitator at Girl Rising, an annual program for every ninth-grade girl at Rangeview High School. Girl Rising works to ensure that girls around the world are educated and empowered. Students watched vignettes of educational opportunities for girls (or the lack thereof), and then discussed how these opportunities pertained to their own lives. The stories were truly inspirational!
Lunch break during Rangeview’s Girl Rising program
Love the Bus Event
Board Director Dan Jorgensen and I toured the APS Transportation Department for the annual Love the Bus event on February 14. We were hosted by Transportation Director Shawn Smith. Not only did we enjoy a delicious breakfast, but we visited with drivers, got an insider’s view of how the entire operation works, and saw the latest buses being added to the fleet. Thanks to our fine Transportation Department for working so hard to take our children to and from school safely and on time every day!
Bus driver Jennie Prince (left) and Director Shawn Smith greet visitors at the APS Transportation.
APS’ Youngest Learners
Building a strong foundation is critical for lifelong success, and it all starts with early childhood education. Program Coordinator Debra McCammond proudly hosted my visit to APS Early Beginnings Preschool, which is an early learning center and parenting program for APS teen parents and their children whose ages range from three weeks to five years. In addition, Cynthia Andrews, Program Coordinator at Laredo Child Development Center, welcomed me to their Habitat Museum project where four-year-olds acted as curators of arctic, rainforest, ocean, grasslands and mountain animal habitat dioramas.
Teacher Aspen Randell works with toddlers at APS Early Beginnings.
Four-year-old curators at Laredo Child Development Center
Third Graders Find Their Voice
I had the privilege of listening to third graders in Ellen Kruschwitz’s class at Aurora Quest K-8 as they presented their combined literacy and social studies projects. Students identified a problem in their community, researched ways to solve the problem, and wrote letters and speeches to convince their audience to make a change. The students not only learned the elements of persuasive writing, but they also learned about the power of their voice in a democracy. Aurora City Councilwoman Nicole Johnston joined me as an advisor for the presentation.
Debbie Gerkin (middle) and Nicole Johnston (right) offer feedback to third graders at Aurora Quest K-8.
HVAC Demonstration at Pickens
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Pickens Technical College to watch a demonstration of principles taught and used in their Heating and Air Conditioning class. It was a pleasure to see so many students gather around, even children from the daycare center, to see the demonstration and get a first-hand look at the laws of physics. Teacher Wayne Blackwell described exactly what was happening in a way that the kids could understand as they watched. Students learned how water transitions to and from vapor via evaporation and condensation, which was strong enough to collapse a 55-gallon steel drum!
Mr. Blackwell’s students implode a steel drum.
Career Wise Colorado
I recently took some time to sit down with Noel Ginsburg, founder of Career Wise Colorado. It was great to further discuss the prospect of utilizing their apprenticeship program to offer the APS graduates even more opportunities for the future in addition to college. Keeping our budget in mind, there is much more work to be done. Overall, however, I left our impromptu meeting with a good feeling about the state of affairs in APS, especially regarding Career and Technical Education.
New Legacy High School – Civics Intensive
I was recently invited to New Legacy Charter School to discuss the work of a school board with a civics class. They were an amazing group of students that asked some great questions and had some great insights.
For those of you that may not be aware, New Legacy is a small school for pregnant and teen parents along with their children. The APS Board of Education approved their charter application and released the school to the Charter School Institute in 2013. They are now making a huge difference for many Aurora students.
Thanks to Executive Director Jennifer Douglas for the invitation. Also, thanks to all the teachers and staff members for the work they are doing to support these amazing Aurora students and families.
Director Jorgensen visits with some New Legacy students.
Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council
I attended a panel discussion concerning apprenticeship programs at the Colorado State Capitol that was hosted by the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council. It was a very interesting discussion with a number of possible ideas for our work as a district. Apprenticeships are great opportunities for APS graduates. Thanks to Jason Wardrip for inviting me to attend the event.
I attended a concurrent enrollment teach-in hosted by Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Action (YAASPA) along with Board member Debbie Gerkin. The event explored the value of concurrent enrollment for all of our students. It led me to further reflect on how we may support the expansion of opportunities for all of our students moving forward. Thanks to Janiece Mackey for inviting APS Board members to this event.
The past few months were also packed with school visits to Lyn Knoll Elementary School, Pickens Technical College, Aurora Academy, Gateway High School and Vanguard Classical School. Thanks to all the staff members at each of these schools for taking the time to reach out and better inform me of your work. Remarkable things are happening in Aurora Public Schools!
Young AmeriTowne Event
I recently had the opportunity to engage students with interview questions for positions in a small American town during Aurora Quest K-8’s Young AmeriTowne event. Students articulated answers to eight questions and presented resumes outlining their skills. Students interviewed for several positions including bank president, doctor, cashiers, police officers and mechanics. Students were also running for mayor and will be notified if they won at a later date. Several Aurora community members and I interviewed students at Aurora Quest K-8.
Director Wildman interviews a student for a job at the Young AmeriTowne event.
CASB Legislative Conference
The Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) Legislative Conference provided me an opportunity to listen to topics about Colorado public school choice and student preparation. APS P-20 Director Kathleen Shiverdecker presented on APS’s move toward a multi-modal program of blended learning for students with unique needs. Dr. Tom Dodd talked about changing a school with declining enrollment and low morale to a high-performing choice school. Time was also provided to engage with our state legislators during reception at the end of the day. I enjoyed Leslie Taylor’s presentation regarding school choice and student preparedness. Students need the following personal attributes and attitudes: grit, responsibility for one’s own actions, persistence, resilience, and the desire to engage and learn with others.
Read Across America
On March 2, Read Across America was celebrated at a variety of Aurora schools. Board Director Debbie Gerkin and I visited Aurora Quest K-8 and read to several classrooms. Students enjoyed hearing about a hare outsmarting a bear in the story Tops and Bottoms and a story of cooperation among animals in preparing a strawberry shortcake in the book Cook-a-Doodle-Do! by Janet Stevens. Director Gerkin read her favorite Dr. Seuss tale The Butter Battle Book, which teaches the important lesson of respecting our differences. Cindy Stoeber and staff did an outstanding job of organizing the festivities that surrounded Read Across America at Quest.
Board Directors Wildman (left) and Gerkin (right) read at Aurora Quest K-8.
Celebration of Learning with Tollgate Second Graders
On April 26, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Grade Celebration of Learning event at Tollgate Elementary School of Expeditionary Learning. Students shared "small moments" that impacted their learning during their expeditions. Students took turns sharing one moment each through a dramatic sequence. Each second grader also wrote and illustrated their own book about his or her favorite expedition. It was a privilege to see the poise and courage of these students as they presented their learnings to the community. Thank you to Principal Joseph Longbottom and second-grade teachers Melissa Kenfield, Mindy Bergen, Emilie Lehrer and Samantha Hester for allowing me to celebrate with you!
Small Moments presentation at Tollgate Elementary School