Critical thinking refers to a person’s capacity and commitment to embark on an unbiased, self-guided, self-disciplined reflection of ideas and evaluation of concepts, while recognizing a need to understand multiple perspectives. In our zone performance dashboard survey, parents told us that the ability for their child to not only problem solve, but to also think critically while doing so, is very important.
Problem solving skills require our students to understand how to properly identify a problem, plan out how to solve it, follow that plan, and know what to do if they don’t find the solution right away. Regardless of the profession your child wants to attain after high school, he or she will need to be able to solve problems in a variety of ways. This zone indicator allows POWER Zone to support more learning environments and opportunities that teach students the ability to look at real life problems through different lenses and points of views.
When we mention school climate, we're referring to a school's quality and character, along with the values expressed during social interactions and organizational processes and structures. To ensure POWER Zone schools demonstrate a positive school climate, where there is a focus on developing quality and supportive stakeholders relationships, we will continue our unabated focus to bring a positive school culture into every single classroom.
To ensure POWER Zone students have the opportunity to choose, create and explore targeted academic and career pathways, we will continue to commit resources in this area at our secondary schools. We now have an individual career and academic plan coordinator and a dean of concurrent enrollment at Vista Ridge High School. Both of these positions provide evidence of our commitment to this area. More and more, teacher training is occurring in this area each semester, so that we can ensure we have the personnel and resources to support such an exciting and important endeavor.
Literacy is a process of reading, thinking critically and communicating around a variety of diverse and meaningful content. Through our POWER Zone performance dashboard survey, parents overwhelmingly explained their support for strong literacy skills. We couldn’t agree more. A child's future success rate across all core content areas has been closely related to their ability to read proficiently by third grade.
Our parents must know their children are safe. Our students must feel safe to learn. The importance of ensuring a safe and secure learning environment was universally seen throughout our performance dashboard survey as the most important indicator to our community. To ensure POWER Zone school environments are kept safe and orderly, we will continue to regularly garner input from our community.
Degrees and Certifications:
Dr. Mike Pickering is the POWER Zone superintendent. Ahead of his appointment in June 2013, as the former curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development administrator, he provided the zone with the leadership needed to make significant progress with innovation initiatives. Dr. Pickering brings a diverse range of educational leadership experiences. He has served as teacher, building level administrator and zone administrator for District 49. His formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts, a master's in curriculum and instruction and a doctorate in educational leadership, research and policy.
August 2015 Update
Values: Climb with Care and Confidence * Create a Loyalty Effect * The Most Important Person in the World * Family First * Serving our Community
Mission: Purposeful Risk * Ownership of Learning * Whole Child/Student Concept * Engaging Inquiry * Respectful Relationships
Current and Ongoing Activity
Last May, at the completion of a Language Arts curriculum review and adoption process lead by Sherry Kyle, POWER Zone elementary schools began to plan professional development around new programming entitled Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA). Two days of training occurred over July 30th and 31st. K-5 teachers dove into the material and began a learning process to better understand how to best deliver these materials to a wide variety of learners. The program was chosen primarily due to its strong explicit core phonics instruction, along with the relevancy and engagement of their reading passages. This particular resource will align well with current benchmarking indicators and will provide the zone with the opportunity for whole zone collaboration around reading and writing instruction.
VRHS now has a dedicated lead Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) advisor whose primary responsibility is to ensure a core group of selected teachers are continually trained in the development of ICAPs for every student. Advisory will now have an ICAP focus at strategic points throughout the year. No longer will ICAPs be a formulaic checklist with little to no differentiation per student. The expectation at VRHS is that ICAPs will be targeted and supported a monthly basis for each and every student.
POWER Zone will now use Beacon Assessments in place of Scantron for ELA and Math in grades 2-8. These assessments are aligned to on grade level material that has the most impact on student learning. Beacon also creates a virtual concept math for each individual student that can then be tracked once the student takes the beginning of year assessment. This will allow for further differentiation across classrooms and grade levels. These assessments will also be used within the zone’s student growth portion of their evaluation model.
POWER Zone Performance Surveys
POWER Zone is asking students, parents, and staff to take 2 surveys at the beginning of this year in order to measure the effectiveness of their three main zone initiatives of ensuring a safe, collaborative, and learning focused environment for our staff and students, ensuring they offer curriculum and learning opportunities that are engaging, rigorous, and individualized, and finally ensuring they have the most effective educators possible in each and every classroom. The Level 1 High Reliability Schools Certification process offered through Marzano Research will serve as a framework to measure how successful each stakeholder group believes POWER Zone is in implementing strategies to meet these initiatives.
Two main focuses of the POWER Zone this year are to track feedback from their High Reliability School and Performance Dashboard surveys. Both surveys will serve as major components of their overall community feedback process.
Hundreds of students, parents, teachers and community members supported literacy efforts at Stetson Elementary School May 19. The end of year event focused on celebrating student achievement and providing parents with resources for continued literacy efforts during summer break.
The Vista Ridge High School Boys Track and Field Team earns the school’s first state track and field championship May 21 at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. The state finals meet was postponed and shortened to two days for the first time in history. The Wolves, led by strong efforts from their sprinters, ran away with the state title, scoring 93.5 points. Air Academy High School in District 20 was second with 58 points.
“Meleah is the first student in District 49 to complete her Associates of Arts and Business while completing her high school degree at the same time,” said Elisabeth Fisk, Vista Ridge High School concurrent enrollment dean during her introduction. Meleah earned college credit in high school through concurrent enrollment, a program for students to earn free college credits on high school and college campuses while completing high school graduation requirements.
Retiring adaptive physical education teacher Bonnie Mendenhall shows Sand Creek High School tenth grader Brendan Ellis,15, how to cast, May 11 at the 10th annual District 49 Fishing Day event for special needs students at Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs.
“All of our grade levels and teams have selected activities that are placed throughout the building,” says Theresa Ritz, principal. “Many of the activities combine art and math or inquiry and science.” Ritz says inviting the community to the school for evening events promotes a healthy and collaborative culture that pays dividends for student learning. “Seeing them with their families makes a big difference,” says Ritz. “When our families come in we connect in a personal way, especially for a fun event. To see families interacting with our teachers in a fun way is motivating. It’s a big deal.”
More than 300 Vista Ridge High School graduates received diplomas May 28 during a commencement ceremony at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.
Emmanuel Lozano Padilla, 13, wraps duct tape around PVC pipes for a shelter concept June 3 outside the Creekside Success Center in District 49. Originally from El Salvador, he previously attended schools in Mexico.
“By benchmarking our processes against high-performing enterprises in education and other industries, we can see more clearly where we are already excellent and where we have the most need to improve,” District 49 Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said.
The POWER Zone schools in District 49 focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) ecosystem. Fifth grade students from the gifted program at the zone's three elementary schools visited Challenger Learning Center May 20. The students participated in a mission to a lunar base on the moon.
Twelfth-grader Kellie Mrofcza,17, accepts the alpha award May 12 during the 2015 Athletic Awards Ceremony at Vista Ridge High School.
Fourth-grader Natalya Gibbons, 10, completes laps during a fundraiser April 15 at Ridgeview Elementary School.
Fourth-grade teacher Becki Sims explains research skills during a writing class April 14 at Ridgeview Elementary School in District 49. It was nearly 10 years ago, when Sims started volunteering in a kindergarten classroom. The experience would change her life, and many others.
Becki Sims, Ridgeview Elementary School fourth grade teacher, describes the moment she found out she had earned a University of Phoenix teacher appreciation scholarship during “Fantastic 49” recognition April 9, ahead of a monthly Board of Education meeting in District 49.
Evans International Elementary School fifth-grader Alexis Gonzalez, 11, discusses a question about a story April 9 during a districtwide Battle of the Books competition at Evans International Elementary School in District 49.
Eleventh-grader Natalie Roman, 17, teaches Nathaniel Jones-Brown, 7, about anatomy during a family science night March 20 at Vista Ridge High School in District 49.
Dave Shiller, president of the Air Force Association Lance P. Sijan Chapter, recognizes Vista Ridge High School CyberPatriot students for their state placements during a Board of Education meeting May 8 in Falcon School District 49.
Physical education teacher Tony Marino talks about Skyview Middle School's $2,500 Colorado Healthy School Champions award during a Board of Education meeting May 8 in Falcon School District 49.
Teacher Sandy Lamb explains her recent rain forest exploration for second graders Feb. 26, 2014, at Odyssey Elementary School in Falcon School District 49.