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School Crossing

By Guy Nahmiach

This month’s election has further tested our abilities to live in a community where so many have varied opinions and beliefs. Tolerance, patience and acceptance of others are drastically different depending on where you live on this planet. What is allowed by law and tolerated by society and what isn’t. Number of lanes, bike paths and sidewalks have been part of our conversation lately, but I couldn’t imagine anyone here killing others over this issues.

When I moved to Wheat Ridge from New York, the bickering over four lanes was a far cry from watching a plane hit the second tower on that September morning before my eyes.  How do we ask people that won’t accept our way of living to kindly move along and not harm our citizens? Teaching our children to accept others must be part of the conversation everywhere.

New WRHS Principal Josh Cooley is turning his seniors into ambassadors to work for credits in the elementary and middle schools to help students get caught up and be better prepared for high school.

it’s only one of many items on his long to-do list, but it’s not all bad news. He is on a mission and is bringing all of us on his bus – reading interventionists, marketing specialists, district officials, counselors and, of course, amazing teachers. The goal: to bring back most of the 500 students that live in Wheat Ridge but choose to attend other neighboring high schools. They each bring with them about $4,500 to whichever school they enroll in. Last year’s 66 additional students brought in an extra  $300,000.  He’s already transformed the open house night to an inspiring evening with teachers sharing their passion for their craft. Inviting those families shopping around for schools to come and learn about the amazing programs inside these walls. Those attending were truly impressed by the professional presentation. From top notch AV to the well prepared staff. Long gone was the overemphasized sports program, replaced by sciences, music, languages, history and of course STEM and STEAM. Well received by the parents and students. Some committing to enroll that evening.

Last week began the WR Futures Conference: Jeffco staff, teachers, parents and members of the community discussing the future of Wheat Ridge schools. What do they look like and how do we as a community improve their direction and make the student the focal point of every single change? How do we make a systemic move as to make education relevant and something students can be passionate about? This was Jeffco’s Superintendent Jason Glass’ guideline. Empowering us to not only dream of the improvements, but find a way and make way for these changes. Brenda Carlson (Achievement Director) emphasized the need to consider not one grade at a time but “from K to gray” – an entire spectrum of a student’s levels of education.

My favorite of the evening came from Karen Quanbeck, who heads the achievement director’s team: she described students as “passionate consumers outside of school” and yet “passive consumers inside of schools.” We have kids at home that latch onto something and might research it on YouTube videos for every minute detail, but ask them about Pythagorean theorem and they’ll simply recite its definition with no emotions at all.

We have two more days of this and I’m already excited about defining the challenges, discussing solutions and plotting a new path for our Wheat Ridge students.

I also met TJ McManus, new principal at Stevens Elementary, a place that’s moving forward with the help of parents and teachers. Great things are happening over at Stevens. In fact, Mr. Dotterrer is building a MakerSpace in his sixth grade GT (Advanced Learning) classroom: a team environment process that combines design, engineering, science and art. That’s what it’s all about – students getting hands-on learning.

            Congratulations to our Jeffco Board of Education’s Mitchell, Rupert and Harmon who kept their seats with large majorities – a clear message from voters as to which direction we want to be heading. The continued positive momentum is being felt throughout the district.

Finally, wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Look around you and take time to acknowledge the great people in your lives.

As always, thanks for reading.

Contact Guy Nahmiach at 303-999-5789 or