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School Crossing

By Guy Nahmiach

Prospect Valley Elementary (PV) is a school that has been attracting many families to our Applewood neighborhood. In fact, almost 70 percent of its enrollment comes from other neighborhoods, districts, and even cities. The driving factor has always been the active community. Great principals came through every few years. Brenda Carlson, Wendy Woodland and, for the last number of years, Mike Collins. At PV, you could never tell who was a parent and who was the teacher; there were huge numbers of volunteers in and out of classrooms. The grades were good, never skyrockets, but no one worried because the students were happy, and in turn the parents were happy. We all know that if parents are happy, that’s “good enough.”

“Good enough” seems to have been something we’ve been holding onto like an old blanket, mom’s recipes or a sweater we bring out while shoveling our driveways. Not great, but “good enough.”

More and more schools are celebrating achieving average grades. Matching the rest of the district, county or state, or maybe even surpassing them by a few points. Maybe that’s a good result when comparing to failing schools. But what about other cities in other states or countries? Students are applying for colleges in and out of our borders, then graduating and competing for jobs on an international scale.

I was happy to hear that Principal Collins wasn’t going to live with “good enough” anymore. Collins is on a mission to improve the Advanced Learning Plan for his GT students – something most schools have accepted as a “flawed” process. Collins has met with Roger Doubt, Director of Gifted & Talented programs in Jefferson County,  sourcing the district to provide a more meaningful process where parents and students can participate with the teacher in determining goals for every area of strength students have. As well as administrative help for teachers in managing the red tape and tracking the needs and progress for every student in the program. Here is a school leader who got up one morning and set off looking for something better than “good enough” for his school.

It was good to learn that the board of education has agreed with my last column and decided to assist the newly hired Wheat Ridge High School principal Jeff Cooley in growing his enrollment numbers. I am sure they would be open to community suggestions. After all, with so many alumni still living in Wheat Ridge, they would no doubt take pride in contributing to its growth. Yes, sports programs are still successful and so are the STEAM and STEM programs, but these have not been good enough in reversing the decline in enrollment. I am genuinely excited to see what they have planned.

With so many citizens adopting the “not good enough” attitude and demanding “better” from themselves, from shops they do business with and their elected officials, how do we bring that into our schools? Ask for more than average. Hold elementary schools accountable for results. Have students be ready for every level, including middle and high school. Be not simply college ready, but life ready.

Our new superintendent, Dr. Glass, has been on a listening tour, taking in concerns and general questions from parents throughout the county. It is a great first step in building trust and a level of care for our students. I have not met him in person yet, but over email I got the sense of a genuine desire to help and improve. Dr. Glass will take over the Ask the Super column here in the Neighborhood Gazette next month, where he’ll answer questions from parents, teachers and district staff. If you have a question for Dr. Glass, please don’t hesitate to email, call or text me.

Aug. 17 is a month away: What are you doing to keep your kids outside building memories? Are you looking forward to this next year? Last one for sixth grade in elementary schools. Six new principals. It’s an exciting time to be in Jefferson County and especially in Wheat Ridge.

As always, thanks for reading.

Contact Guy Nahmiach at 303-999-5789 or Guy@NostalgicHomes.com.