A heart-felt thank you on Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week
CASTLE ROCK – Students, parents and administrators in the Douglas County School District came together this week to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our employees during the 2015 DCSD Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week.
The week, which coincides with National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8) and Teacher Appreciation Day (May 5), was marked with special events and messages of support celebrating teachers and support staff.
WATCH: DCSD Students and leaders thank teachers and staff during the 2015 Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week
At many DCSD schools, parents brought in food and creative decorations to show their appreciation. At Heritage Elementary the “If you give a teacher cookies and milk…” theme parodied a well-known children’s book series. At Cimarron Middle School, the school’s “super heroes” posed with a cutout of Captain America. At Clear Sky, staff was treated to a “HOP on Popcorn Bar.”
DCSD Board of Education President Kevin Larsen says he and the other directors are extremely grateful to DCSD’s staff.
“Teachers in the Douglas County School District, on behalf of the School Board and the leadership of our District, I really want to give you a personal heartfelt thanks for all you do… We appreciate what you do in the classroom to get kids where they need to be to succeed.”
Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen says educators have come to the realization that their profession was built for another time. She has been inspired to by the work of the teachers and staff in Douglas County who have embraced the effort to transform American education.
“We are thinking about what students need to know and be able to do in the 21st Century. That is absolutely the work that we want to do, that we feel we are prepared to do and that we have the talented staff,” Fagen said.
WATCH: Superintendent Fagen speaks to DCSD employees during the 2015 Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week
“We love what they do and we want to thank them for all the passion and energy that they bring into this job,” explained Chief Technology Officer Gautam Sethi.
“Our teachers really have their hearts in the right place. It is all about the students. That really shows in their efforts,” said DCSD System Performance and Assessment Officer Matt Reynolds.
“In Douglas County we are so fortunate. We have an extraordinary community and we have an extraordinary school district. We have students and parents invested in education. We have a community that supports education and we have an incredible staff across this District that wants what is best for students, even when it is hard. Even if it is more work,” Fagen continued. “I have watched for five years as teachers have started to think about, 'what can I do differently to meet the needs of my students' and leaders have started thinking about, 'what can I do differently to better meet the needs of my staff.'”
“Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Reinventing American Education is hard work. We appreciate everyone for doing their very best everyday in our classrooms,” added DCSD Public Information Officer Paula Hans. “It truly is an honor to be part of this District.”
“Anytime we are improving upon excellence, we know that there is a lot of change involved and that it can be disruptive. It takes a lot of energy for people to really understand it, embrace it and then put their energy into it,” Larsen said.
WATCH: Board of Education President Kevin Larsen speaks to DCSD employees during the 2015 Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week
He has been encouraged by the stories of the teachers he has spoken to, including one from Mountain Vista High School.
“She pointed out to me that while some of these changes have been challenging, she and others who have embraced it have found a lot of energy around what is going on for kids,” Larsen said.
DCSD has worked to empower school leaders and staff, providing them with site-based budgeting and the ability to create assessments that best meet the needs of their students, for example.
“Some places believe that the top knows best and they dictate and prescribe to employees. They provide a pacing guide for teachers. They have very structured and strict protocols on a lot of things,” Fagen said. “We want to empower great people with our expectations and with clear lines of accountability to do what they believe is right. Every time you do that, the results are far better than what we could have conceived.”
“It is very energizing to see that kind of work being done, because we are doing what is best for kids,” Chief Academic Officer Dana Johnson-Strother said. “These kids are doing outrageous, wonderful tasks that I don't think some people thought kids were capable of doing. They are surpassing what we thought was possible.”
Additionally, during the week there were many messages of thanks to the support staff that makes all of this work possible, including bus drivers and mechanics, maintenance crews, lunch staff, building engineers and office staff.
“I would like to make a special call out to all of our office workers in our schools and our departments. Thank you for all the work you do everyday for the community and the students of Douglas County. Do not ever underestimate how you impact the education of all 67,000 students in our schools,” said Chief Financial Officer Bonnie Betz.
The superintendent says she is proud of how every element of the District has looked for ways to improve their craft, again, for the students of Douglas County.
“They want to be the leader in every aspect of what we do. It doesn't matter if it is transportation or sustainability, the way we budget, hire, or evaluate,” Fagen said proudly.
Fagen says that DCSD has the rare opportunity to lead the way in defining what education will be for the next century.
“Our amazing teachers and staff are looking to lead in American Education, creating something that is better for kids tomorrow, so that our students are prepared for whatever they want to do” Fagen said.