By Guy Nahmiach
How far do you go back with Jeffco and what was your first job here?
As far as I can remember! I was born and raised in Edgewater. I had attended Lumberg Elementary, and to my amazement would later be the principal there. I went to Wheat Ridge Junior High and then moved to Evanston, WY., full time to be live with my dad when I was 13. My first job in Jeffco was the principal of Prospect Valley. It was one of my favorite jobs I have ever had. The community support is so strong and caring. I was also fortunate enough to have my two kids, Max and Maddie go there.
What is your background and how does it help you relate and help our Wheat Ridge schools?
I believe great schools make great communities. I spent 30 years working in elementary schools. I was a first, second, third, and fifth grade teacher for 11 years, a principal for 19 years, and have been in the Community Superintendents office for eight years. Wheat Ridge has a small-town feel and the principals in the area are very close. I have lived in Wheat Ridge, had my children attend schools in Wheat Ridge, saw them graduate from Wheat Ridge High School. I have always worked closely with families, the city, the police department, businesses and faith-based organizations in Wheat Ridge. Wheat Ridge is an impressive, progressive community who truly cares for all students, all schools and all educators. I also have lived through the changing demographics, challenges, and successes of the Wheat Ridge area schools as a parent, principal, and Community Superintendent.
Have Priorities changed inside WR, if so how?
We learned that together we are stronger. Our school leaders are taking time to reflect, look at data, and set clear priorities and goals for their schools by determining the highest levers to move the school forward. Another thing we have learned is less is more. There are so many school priorities, and often we make slight progress in many areas, instead of significant progress on one or two areas. We are working harder and smarter than ever. Wheat Ridge has always had great schools, but now the vision is clearer and we are working together for all students to be career and college ready. Every single child counts, not 70, not 80, but 100 percent of our children grow each year and all of their needs are met.
Last year we held a WR Future Search to have open honest conversations about our reality in Wheat Ridge schools and set goals. The reality is we have very high achieving schools and schools that are struggling. I differentiate my work by what the schools need. The challenges have been small schools, changing demographics, student data, and a national concern around school safety and student mental health. We are attracting more students from other artic[ulation] areas, especially WR High School with the Stem and GT programs. Many of our neighborhood schools are getting new students every day. We are really seeing amazing successes in all of our Wheat Ridge area schools.
Over the years, your bosses have had different agendas representing different political sides. How do you manage stay out of the political conversation?
I always stay student and school focused. We all in WR focus on what is best for kids, not adults. All of my bosses have focused on students, great teachers, great principals, and making schools safe and funded. They funding is has been the most challenging. I think all sides believe in that.
What advice do you have for young people considering education as a career?
Go for it, teaching is the best job in the world. You get to make a massive difference in the lives of young people. Sometimes we might not know how many students have taken your words of wisdom to heart and will go on to repeat them to their own children. It is more than you think. You are constantly learning new skills, and no day is ever the same. We put tools in kids toolboxes to navigate this very complicated world. The moment when you connect with a child and you see them light up, it is indescribable. You build positive relationships with students, colleagues, parents and entire communities. Teaching matters and it makes a difference in children’s lives. I would also like to acknowledge and thank a teacher that made a difference in my life: Marge Mariola was my neighbor, mentor and a retired Jeffco Teacher and still lives in Edgewater. She is my friend and my second mom, and I became a teacher because of her and her daughter, my best friend Teresa’s influence on my life. I knew I wanted to be a teacher and principal when I was in second grade. I have been in school continuously since I was 5!
Questions for this guest writer or suggestions for future guest writers should be sent in to Guy@NostalgicHomes.com.