In response to the article ‘Group Suggests New Model for Schools’ and the ‘Transformation Committee Report’ that was shared with the community in the Pikes Peak Courier on Jan 4th the School Board would like to provide the community with some additional information regarding current district initiatives.
We appreciate community members taking an active approach to helping improve the education of the children in our community. We believe that this committee of business owners is sincere in their desire for WPSD to provide the best education possible for the students in our community. We agree with the premise that we cannot have a strong community without a strong school system. Woodland Park is a community that cares about the education of their children and this was made clear with the passing of the 1.09% sales tax increase in 2016.
As a system, we acknowledge the need to evaluate and respond to the ever growing demands of preparing successful graduates. We recognize the value of offering choices to students and have seen the benefits, in many cases, of online learning options. As a small district, we strive to provide avenues to prepare our students for the globally competitive work force, while acknowledging that one size does not fit all.
The District invites feedback and suggestions from our families and community members. Several of the initiatives listed below resulted from our conversations with various community groups. Our staff carefully considers options and often begins with pilot programs, expanding or eliminating as appropriate.
Historically, the District actively pursued a variety of educational learning experiences to better meet the diverse needs of our student population including:
- Flipped Classroom in 2008-2011, considered one of the first in the nation but with mixed reviews from students and families
- WPSD Online Program which began in 2008 using the same platform as Falcon Virtual Academy, now Springs Studio which is a charter school within Falcon School District serving 3% of their total student population
- Homeschool Enrichment Academy which began in 2007 (Cottage School) to meet the needs of our homeschooling families and has now expanded to include an in-town and Divide site
- Increased College Courses for high school students (including on our campus, on a local college campus and some online)
More recently, expanded offerings include:
- High School Blended Learning Concept, prompted by recommendations from the Transformation Committee, provides more flexibility with our online program and expands opportunities for students to earn credits while still interacting with learning coaches
- Middle School Summit Base Camp, part of an exclusive national pilot program, provides a true blended learning environment for 6th and 7th grade students in the core curricular areas
- Elementary schools increased their project based learning opportunities through unique programs such as Eagle Hour (Summit), Think Tank (Gateway) and Master Series (Columbine)
- Experiential educational opportunities through Elevate Environment Education (K-8) and Space Foundation (Elementary)
- Computer programming and robotics strand (K-12)
While all of these programs/initiatives add value, our driving focus continues to center on providing a quality, caring educator in every classroom. Educational research across the board continually highlights that student success is most affected by a quality teacher for every student. As a result, considerable efforts have been made to train our staff, calibrate our evaluation practices, and foster strong relationships.
This is an exciting time for us as the District is engaged in a community-wide Strategic Planning process using expertise brought to us from consultants in the field. Our initial phase involved 120 stakeholders across our community in deep dialogue. This phase led to our current Stakeholder Survey aimed at gathering community-wide feedback that will drive our focus for the next several years. We intend to go about this process purposefully, thoughtfully and aligned with the values of the entire community.
Again, we appreciate input and hope you will continue to provide feedback. Let’s work strong together to ensure we provide the best education possible for all the children in our community.