It is with sincere enthusiasm that I write this year’s “Back to School” letter to all those who play such an important role in the educational process of our District’s nearly 1,600 students. Each school year brings anticipation, excitement, and with many, anxiety of what the new school year may bring. As we begin this school year, I wish the greatest success for all our students and staff.

As we all know, there are many challenges with each new school year. Unfunded state and federal mandates, new state and federal mandates, and the search for resources to continue our technology upgrades are just a number of issues that we will face during the coming year. Our greatest endeavor though should be to always do our best to meet the needs of each and every student.

Our strategic planning process will resume in earnest shortly after the start of school. Our expectation is to complete the overall plan, define programs and processes to meet our goals, and then have measurable deliverables to evaluate. One of our programs will be a new math curriculum at the elementary school. Additionally a new voluntary writing program will be implemented at the elementary school this year, and be fully implemented in all elementary classrooms next year.

At the middle school, clustering will begin in earnest. This is where kids will be placed in different levels of skill sets based upon different topics…math and language arts. This allows students with similar skill set levels to be aligned in the same specific classrooms. It allows the teachers to focus on a narrower band of skill levels, providing an opportunity to challenge each student. Often we place students in the one grouping based solely upon reading or writing test scores. Then as those students move through the day, they often are not aligned with their skill sets, as often students who are strong in math might struggle in reading and writing, but are not challenged appropriately with math…and vice-versa.

Our new high school principal, Jason Douvikas, will continue our strong CTE programs, but also begin to focus on the five different groups who graduate from our schools: those who move to a four year college or university, those who move onto a 2 year college, those who move on to a Vocational Education, those who enlist in the military, and those who move directly into the workforce. We want to support each student’s life path.

This year will be the first year that South Verde Technology Charter will now be a part of Camp Verde Unified School District as South Verde High School. Mr. Howe has been tasked at leading the new school, and we will be offering additional music, art, and other extra-curricular programs at South Verde this coming year.
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As you know Capturing Kids Heart’s has been a huge success at the middle school. We have brought this program full force into our elementary and high schools. We believe this supports many of our district goals we have set up in our strategic planning, finding ways to meet the kids where they are at in life. We still have a high free and reduced number of students, and have made changes at our cafeteria with an expanding daily salad bar, breakfast options for all levels of students, and a way for our high school kids to get their food and still have time for visiting prior to school starting.

We have gone to a single bus route in the morning, which will make it so we start picking students up later in the morning (Please check the school web site for pick up times on your students’ routes). We will continue to drop off students in front of the Multi-use complex and funnel them through the cafeteria. Last year as a result of having the kids flow through the cafeteria we fed breakfast to an additional 250 kids each day. My goal is to increase that number with new breakfast sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. Research is showing “you can see a real learning gap at the start of the school year between the students who had enough to eat over the break and the ones who struggled”. We have a large segment of our population who are not receiving enough food, and we want to improve that this year by meeting the diverse needs of our kids.

Continuing the traditions of excellence is a very important concept, but creating an impactful learning environment with opportunities for our students will always be a significant priority. I honestly believe our faculty and staff are passionate about our students, and the time they spend preparing for each school day and year is always worthy to mention. Teaching is not just a vocation of nine months in duration per year nor does the administration of schools occur only 8 hours a day…it is a year round endeavor.

Nearly 1600 Preschool – 12th grade students will return to school on August 8, eager for the opportunity to see friends, engage in learning, and participate in a variety of sports and activities. I know that each member of our staff has renewed his or her commitment to unlocking the potential of every student to help them be successful.

I feel a renewed sense of excitement for the start of this school year because of the energy our students, staff, parents and community bring to our school and all the possibilities that working together provide. Our school district excels because of this collective effort, focus and commitment. I look forward to the work we will accomplish this year.

As always, thank you for your continued support for Camp Verde Unified School District.

Dennis E. Goodwin, Ed. D., MBA
Superintendent
Camp Verde Unified School District
Dennis E. Goodwin – Ed. D., MBA