Welcome Back To School!
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
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.
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
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.