Echoes from Cañon
Examples of Excellence
On Friday I spent an entire day at the ACCESS building participating in a Project Launch Together planning session. Launch is a collaborative effort involving early childhood programs from Fremont and Chaffee counties. It is aimed at providing support for the social and emotional development of prenatal through kindergarten age children in order to prepare them for school. Our collaborative received one of only seven planning grants awarded in Colorado this fall, and is now competing to become one of only four fully funded programs moving forward. Early childhood director Pam Walker and her staff at the ECHO Early Childhood Council need to be thanked for all the hard work they have put into this project so far. Through the course of the day on Friday I learned a lot about the many ways we might engage local healthcare and counseling agencies to better provide a solid foundation for our children, especially those who are growing up in at-risk environments, as they enter the K-12 education environment.
I also want to thank principals Tammy DeWolfe of Lincoln School of Science and Technology and John Pavlicek of Harrison K-8 School for coming to our board meeting on Monday to report on how they are making use of once per month delayed start days to guide teachers in professional learning community work related to identifying students who need targeted academic interventions, sharing effective instructional strategies, and planning for overall instructional improvement. I have no doubt these delayed start Wednesdays are disruptive to families. However, because they have become a rare opportunity during which our instructional staff members can gather together to focus on providing better learning opportunities for our children, I feel the time spent is quite worth it. Because student learning can ebb and flow throughout the course of a school year, having focused collaborative time is very helpful. I would also like to remind everyone that despite setting aside precious time for our staff members to do this work, the Cañon City School District still meets all teacher-student contact time requirements as set by the state of Colorado.
The Focus of Our Work
Our major priority at the administration building has been working to estimate costs for facilities improvement projects related to our possible application for a Building Excellent Schools Today grant. While doing this work I am also conducting mid-year performance evaluations for our department directors. At the same time, our building instructional leaders have been deeply engaged in conducting mid-year teacher evaluations, and I have worked with director of student services Dominic Carochi on planning to conduct building evaluations of McKinley and Washington elementary schools as well as CCHS, CCMS, and Harrison K-8. They are taking place only at these schools because each building's principal volunteered to pilot the process this year. As a precautionary measure due to the weather I am postponing our visits to Cañon City High School, Cañon City Middle School and Harrison K-8 until next week. I decided I don't want to have a consultant travel to the area while then having to cancel school due to snow. However, we do expect to complete McKinley and Washington visits on this coming Thursday.
On Monday and Thursday I met with several of our department directors to conduct their mid-year performance evaluations. We also had a very productive board work session and regular board meeting on Monday evening. On Tuesday we had a BEST grant writing task force committee in the morning and a regular leadership team meeting in the afternoon. On Wednesday I was in Pueblo for a monthly regional superintendents gathering. I then worked all afternoon and evening preparing for several upcoming mid-year building reviews. On Thursday I ran up to Denver to testify on a bill aimed at increasing the ability of the BEST facilities board to finance large construction projects through its grant program, but made it back to Cañon in time to attend a Fremont County Facilities Corp meeting. On Friday I spent the entire day at the ACCESS Center for the Project Launch grant planning retreat.
I will be working on mid-year principal and director evaluations on Monday. On Tuesday I will meet with our BEST grant writing task force teaming the morning, and I will travel to Denver to chair the quarterly Colorado Safe Schools Resource Center advisory board meeting, weather permitting. I will spend the entire day on Thursday helping conduct mid-year building evaluations at McKinley and Washington based on a metric we have created for them. On Wednesday I have a central office staff meeting, more director evaluations, and a meeting with PCC Fremont Campus leaders about ways to extend additional concurrent enrollment opportunities to CCHS students. On Friday I’ll wear my Bronco colors along with most everyone else, meeting with CCHS staff about a Colorado Counselor Corps grant opportunity, and then I’ll travel to Denver to present our district's school financing needs at a gathering of Leadership Denver representatives.
Thanks for listening once again!
George S. Welsh
Thanks for listening once again!
George S. Welsh