CENTER— In her column Center of Focus, Center Schools superintendent Carrie Zimmerman emphasizes the fact that the staff and administration at Center Schools is “future-focused.” The school’s vision is to prepare all students for the future by providing the knowledge, skills and perseverance they need to meet the challenges of today’s society.
In order to accomplish this and ensure students have what it takes in this ever-changing culture, Zimmerman explains that the district must be focused on continuous improvement. “We have assembled a leadership team to focus our district efforts and make sure we accomplish these goals,” she wrote in the introduction to her upcoming columns that will run over the next few weeks.
“The primary purpose of improvement planning is to align efforts so that all students who exit our K-12 education system are equipped to be successful in either post-secondary education or in the workforce. This focused academic action plan condenses the Unified Improvement Plan into strategies that will help the leadership team prioritize efforts and stay focused on improvement goals.”
This school year, she announced, the school will focus on four Improvement Strategies:
Post-secondary and workforce readiness
Multi-tiered system of supports
Recruitment and retention
Next month, each of these improvement strategies will be examined by Zimmerman, who will discuss the work the district is doing in each building to support these efforts. This week, to kick off this series, the focus will be on Improvement Strategy 1- evidence-based practices, defined by Zimmerman below.
Evidence-based practices are education strategies that are supported by evidence and research. The first goal under this improvement strategy is to get an aligned, standards-based curriculum in place. This will help staff articulate what students should know, understand, and be able to do. This is the foundation of teaching and learning and will allow us to set clear expectations, measurable goals, and help us to measure achievement.
Much of this work has already taken place, but teachers and administrators will follow through and tie up any loose ends to make certain they have a guaranteed and viable curriculum in place in all grades.
The second goal in this area will be to continue efforts of providing high quality instruction in every classroom, every day. Teachers will utilize effective instructional strategies in their classrooms that are research based, at the appropriate level of rigor, encourage student engagement, and are differentiated to meet the needs of all students.
The District Leadership Team has defined what effective instruction looks like and teachers will be planning and delivering instruction that incorporates those expectations. The third goal under this improvement strategy involves data-based problem solving. Instructional staff and leadership teams are using a consistent process to analyze and evaluate information to inform instruction and positively impact student learning.
Welcome, Stephanie Hensley
Helping to lead these efforts is Center Schools’ Director of Instruction Stephanie Hensley. Hensley is a veteran educator and comes to the Center School District with valuable experience. “We are fortunate to have her in our district as one of our instructional leaders,” Zimmerman said.” Hensley wrote the following regarding her background.
“My childhood dream was to be a teacher and my journey in education began in Durango, Colorado where I completed my student teaching in a multiage classroom consisting of kindergarteners and first and second-graders. I could not have asked for a better start to my career. The following year, my husband, Mark, and I were offered teaching positions in the Del Norte School District, so we packed up and moved home. Our kids were excited to be back in the San Luis Valley, close to relatives and friends.
“After several wonderful years teaching third grade in the Del Norte School District, I accepted a position in the Alamosa School District where I taught fourth grade. I had just completed my Master’s degree in education, along with a reading teacher endorsement from Adams State University.
“This amazing experience led to my transition as an Intervention Specialist for the district. While serving in this position, I was selected as the recipient for the Kay Mervar Outstanding Reading Educator Award from the Colorado Council International Reading Association. This was such an honor.
“Soon after, I was hired as a teacher on special assignment in the Teacher Education Department at Adams State University. After fulfilling this contract, Adams State offered me a position as a tenure track faculty member and I gladly accepted.
“In this role, I taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, served as the Field Director, and oversaw the implementation of the Boettcher Teacher Residency in the San Luis Valley. During this time, I completed my Ph.D in Education from Capella University. My experiences in the higher educational setting were rewarding. I got to work with educators and school districts across the San Luis Valley.
“My journey continues. I am back in the PK-12 setting, working in the Center School District as the Director of Instruction and have the privilege of collaborating with creative, innovative educators who want to make a positive difference in the lives of our students. My heart is full.”
This article was adapted from information provided by Center Schools Superintendent Carrie Zimmerman.