D11 Monthly Insights

A School District 11 Communications Publication

January 2019

  • Superintendent's Top of Mind: Goal Setting
  • 2017 MLO Update: The MLO Book is Coming
  • Student Spotlight: Angelo Atencio
  • Awards: West Middle School & Palmer High School
  • Making the Most of the Moment
  • Event: World Cafes & Core Planning Team Invites
  • Event: Family Learning Institute

Superintendent's Top of Mind: Goal Setting

It's hard to believe half the year has already gone by! It feels like yesterday when we were kicking off the school year with excitement and anticipation of what was to come. If you are like me, the winter break always signifies a break between two halves of the year, and I spend much of the time reflecting on the first part of the year, considering what could be done differently during the second half to finish strong.

This is also a time when many people set New Year's resolutions. Research shows about half the adult population sets resolutions. Whether it is to exercise more, eat healthier, or spend more time reading, many of us have the best intentions, but unfortunately, research also shows less than ten percent of us manage to keep them.

How do we overcome the odds of not following through? Setting SMART goals is a great first step. This acronym means: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. When we set SMART goals, we are much more likely to accomplish them, versus an overly ambitious, general goal many of us might set for a New Year’s resolution.

Our school district leaders and staff are well trained in setting SMART goals because we do not want to leave student learning to chance, nor do we want to set our students or ourselves up to fail. Being SMART about goal setting forces us to analyze data, critically question our practice, and ultimately, develop SMART goals for our district, schools, classrooms, and even individual students.

Let’s walk through what this could look like. Using literacy as an example, I think we can all agree it is one aspect of learning that is absolutely necessary to master in order to do well in any other content area. In the spirit of a New Year’s resolution, one might have a goal for students to read more. But what would that look like and how would we be able to know if it actually happened? This is the challenge of broad goals. Taking it a step further, one may consider to declare: 80 percent of my students will reach at least a guided reading level of "M" (measurement) by February 2019, as evidenced by our fourth grade assessment.

Do you see the difference? I know this is just a basic example, but the latter illustrates a Specific target for students, it is Measurable by using a common assessment for all teachers. It is Attainable, because reading level "M" (measurement) is the beginning of fourth grade and by mid-year, we should see students at or above this level in most cases. Literacy is VERY Relevant as I stated previously, and lastly, this is Timely, in that by mid-year, students should be at this level and if not, there would be time for additional support to ensure they are at grade-level reading by the end of the year.

As we enter the second half of our school year, I want us all to be thinking about goals and how we can be SMART about it to ensure the best outcomes for our students. Let’s finish strong!

My best,

Dr. Michael J. Thomas

2017 MLO Update:

The Mill Levy Override book, detailing information about the 2017 MLO program plan implementations and documented expenditures, is in the final draft stages now. It will be posted to the D11 Financial Transparency website in early February for the public to view. Additionally, the Mill Levy Override Citizen's Oversight Committee's annual report to the Board of Education is scheduled to be presented on February 13 at the regularly scheduled board meeting. You may stream all regular board meetings live by clicking here. For information on the Board of Education meetings, agendas, and archive documents, click here.

Student Spotlight: Angelo Atencio

Angelo is a senior at the Bijou School. His nominator for this recognition writes, "Angelo has shown an incredible amount of academic, social, personal, and emotional growth over the last three years at Bijou, where he is now a senior. Angelo's doggedly determined approach to school is a lot like his approach to skateboarding: every time he falls, he dusts himself off, gets back up on the board, and tries again. Every time.

Even when he's being asked to do something scary, from a seemingly impossible flip on his skateboard to a memorized speech in his English class, he squares his shoulders and steps ahead to see what he can do, courageous, determined, humble, and strong. As a writer, he's progressed from a sophomore who needed encouragement and guidance between every step to an inspired whiz-kid, stopping only to get up and sharpen his pencil before going back to fleshing out whatever nuances and surprises he can find in a topic about which he truly cares. I cannot recommend Angelo for this recognition highly enough. It has been a delight to walk beside him on his journey for the past three years, and I know he'll inspire many others as much as he has inspired me. Ask him to show you some of his art or his skateboarding videos -- you'll see his spark of brilliance and creativity as surely as I have."

If you'd like to nominate a student for the Student Spotlight, click here to submit your nomination.

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West Middle School & Palmer High School Receive Prestigious Awards

Hollywood isn’t the only community celebrating awards season! Colorado Springs School District 11 is proud to announce two outstanding awards honoring teachers and students at West Middle School and Palmer High School.

Selected from thousands of entries nationwide, West Middle School was recently named the Colorado state winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest! West Middle School is among 50 national winners and will receive $20,000 in technology to move forward with the concept that earned them the award. The idea to create an interactive communications app for homeless people that will be stationed outside local homeless shelters and other agencies was the brainstorm of students and math teacher Phil Hutcherson. The device will be designed to help homeless individuals access information about the local agencies who provide assistance, the assistance that is available, and bus routes.

“These state winners and trailblazing teachers and students are taking action to create tangible solutions and promote positive change,” said Ann Woo, senior director of corporate citizenship, Samsung Electronics America. “Samsung is proud to support their vision for a brighter future and looks forward to seeing how they will use imagination and creativity with complex technologies such as VR and 3D printing to bring these projects to life.”

Mr. Hutcherson is excited to move on to the national phase of this contest and says, “We’re trying to figure out how we can best use these minds and hands to make it happen.” We are proud of Mr. Hutcherson and the West Middle School students who are working to positively change the future of our community!

Sean Wybrant, Palmer High School’s digital media instructor and a Colorado Teacher of the Year, is no stranger to winning prestigious awards. Recently, Mr. Wybrant applied for and was awarded the Colorado Succeeds Prize Excellence in Technology, an honor developed in partnership by 9News, Colorado Succeeds, and mindSpark Learning. The winners were selected by accomplished panels of experts representing the education, government, and business communities.

“Colorado’s students are capable of having a tremendous impact on the world, if we give them the opportunity,” Mr. Wybrant remarked. “We are honored to receive The Succeeds Prize for Technology Enabled Learning, which will allow us to expand our student-to-student collaboration with kids in Saipan and provide learning opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Thank you to The Succeeds Prize and to Arrow for investing in our work to pioneer learning experiences across the globe.”

Mr. Wybrant will receive a $15,000 award for his work on this project at Palmer High School. The awards also share promising teaching practices and elevate excellent educators to impact Colorado’s nearly 900,000 students.

Making the Most of the Moment

Dr. Thomas visits Audubon Elementary School to get a tour of the STEAM school.

Strategic Plan World Cafe & Planning Team Invitations

We are excited to begin work on a new strategic plan that will impact the future of our schools and our community! This strategic plan will guide our actions and decisions moving forward so we may continue to serve our students and community with exceptional educational choices. Included in the plan will be the District’s new mission, strategic objectives, action plans, and the measurement tools to chart our progress.

In order to create a strategic plan that best reflects the hopes and dreams of our community, we would like you to participate in the process. The participation of students, parents, community members, staff, and business leaders is necessary to help create the future of Colorado Springs School District 11. There are two ways to participate:

• In a World Café
• Applying for membership on the core planning team.

What is a World Café?
• Small group conversations
• In an informal setting
• An opportunity to think together about our future
• A chance to learn from one another
• An opportunity to impact the future of this school district

The core planning team members will help develop the long-term strategic plan, vision, and mission. They will meet during scheduled times throughout the second semester. Please know there is a time commitment to be a part of the core planning team. See the pictures below for detailed information on both opportunities to participate. We look forward to working together to build a great future for our students and community!

For updates on the strategic planning process, visit https://www.d11.org/StrategicPlan

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Family Learning Institute

The second Family Learning Institute is coming up! Keep an eye out for the topics that will be presented in this educational session open to everyone! More information will be coming soon through the D11 Loop, social media, and on the D11 calendar.
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