By Jeena Templeton
I’ve been asked to reflect on my first year here at Manning, and I can’t help but remember my incessant and frequent question at the beginning of the school year. I asked kids, teachers, families, community members: “What makes us an option? What makes us different?”
Since those first days in July and August, in my relatively short time being lucky enough to work in the Manning School community, I have come to understand what makes our building so special – that it is a small, warm and nurturing environment in which kids and families from all over Wheat Ridge, Golden and Arvada come together to work hard; to be academically challenged; to be supported by a talented, knowledgeable and passionate staff; and to embody the notion that it takes a village to raise a child. Being an Option School makes it possible for us to maintain our small class sizes, to provide curricular flexibility to our teachers, and even, as we did this year, name our classical academic and arts focus to more clearly define what makes us unique.
I was also asked, in the context of this reflection, to consider what I might have done differently my first year if given the chance, and I think the answer to that question is that I would have forged stronger relationships with more people, not just the students, staff and families that make up our school, but also the larger communities we serve. I would have asked more people what their perceptions of Manning are and what learning environments might work best for their kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews or neighbors. I believe we as a staff made thoughtful choices about the direction we’re heading – decisions based on research and valued traditions and necessary growth, but as our vision and culture evolves, we must apply the lessons of intentional conversations and strong bonds with people from neighborhoods and schools across the Jeffco system.
I will close by sharing the work we embark on next year: The obvious is that we grow by 33 percent and welcome not one but two grade levels of eager, creative, brilliant students to our hallways and classrooms. The other is that we as a faculty and staff will be guided by this tenet: “We will learn from one another.” As the leader of that charge, I will model the lifelong learning I venerate by beginning my pursuit of my doctorate at the University of Denver later this June.
Jeena Templeton is principal of The Manning School of Academics and Arts.
Questions for this guest writer or suggestions for future guest writers should be sent in to Guy@NostalgicHomes.com.