As we return from April break, there are only five weeks of school left – wow! This school year has been great, albeit fast, with our teachers, schools and students receiving significant and positive recognition for their hard work.
Due to our advanced readiness in many of the educational reforms underway in Colorado, we have been serving as an “Integration District” to pilot the changes for the rest of the state. Naturally, there were some challenges with “blazing the new path,” but our staff – support staff, teachers, and administrators – met those difficulties with a degree of professionalism and determination that was truly impressive. As a result of their efforts, next year we’re moving into our third year of working with the new Common Core standards-based curriculum. Other districts are yet to begin.
We’re also adapting our leading edge process of teacher development to comply with the requirements adopted by the state. In 2001, we began evaluating and developing teachers to ensure that our students had the best possible teachers leading them. Over a decade later, the state has now made such practice a requirement of all schools. Consequently, our teachers not only have a decade of professional development under their belts, but they are also very comfortable with multiple evaluations each year. We’re merely adapting to a new evaluation rubric, whereas every other district in the state is starting from scratch.
That’s the way it is in Eagle County: we generally lead the way, and other districts follow. Our community’s expectations accelerate us toward being better. Being better for our students, being better for our schools, being better as a community. It’s no wonder that we had a pretty solid year:
- Avon received a national Blue Ribbon Award for improvement
- The Colorado Department of Education awarded many of our schools with John Irwin and Distinguished Improvement Awards
- Many high school students were highlighted for academic success
- Our student performance data showed improvement and beat state averages
- One-layer deeper in student performance data showed that our non poverty kids perform on par with the best (including private schools) in the state
- External sources awarded our schools high marks
- High School competitive teams (sports and academic) were successful
- A new Principal was nominated as Rookie Principal of the Year
- An internationally-experienced security expert assessed our schools and rated us as well-prepared to prevent and respond to tragedy and natural disasters
- I received the honor of being Colorado’s Superintendent of the Year, which I attribute to the great community partnerships and high level of professionalism among our staff.
- Bill and Melinda Gates of the Foundation that bears their name, not only visited our district, but mentions us in a Wall Street Journal article, and the Bill Gates’ Annual Letter as the model for transforming US Education
In all, I am grateful to the community for serving as your Superintendent over the last five years. Eagle County is a very special and unique district, with the best-trained teachers, most involved community, and motivated, happy children. My heart and mind are overflowing with wonderful experiences and memories. Further, I am confident that district leadership is on the right path, and in good hands. I look forward to congratulating the next Superintendent.
Sandra B. Smyser, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Eagle County Schools