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Elementary students bring winter to Belize

Belize child with her snowman creation

PARKER – Snowmen in the tropical country of Belize sounds like an absurd concept, but with the help of Jean Kirshner and her first graders at Mammoth Heights Elementary, Belize youngsters were given the chance to experience something Coloradans often take for granted: Snow. 

“They’re putting together kits so that the children in Belize can make snowmen,” Kirshner explained. “So that they can better understand our home and make connections with us.”

Wide-eyed and fully engaged, students in Kirshner's class simply couldn’t put their hands down when she asked them to brainstorm ideas for materials they thought should be included in the art kits. Students eagerly suggested “feathers for some hair”, and “little sticks for their arms”, and of course made sure not to forget to include step-by-step directions on what goes where.

“I want our kids in Belize to be as active and creative as you are,” Kirshner announced to her students. “I want them to be able to collaborate.”

Last week during Mammoth Heights’ fall break, Kirshner made her annual trip to Belize with art kits in tow, and was received with utter gratitude and happiness. Belize schools and Mammoth Heights may differ in resource availability, but Kirshner says the ambition and excitement to learn is equal in both countries.

“Everybody is really rich in their hunger to learn,” she said.  “Not only the hunger but absolute joy when you learn something is universal.”

“They’re learning and connecting to somebody far away and the idea that they had 6 and 7 year olds make something for them was joyful,” she added.

Seven years ago, Kirshner journeyed to Belize originally on a medical mission.  Coincidentally, Eden Primary School was nearby the hospital, so she ventured over and connected with the principal there immediately.  Their relationship has since deepened and widened and this year, 25 DCSD teachers traveled to Belize to work with three schools on four different campuses.

However, it’s not just the DCSD teachers making the effort.  Each April, educators from the Cayo District of Belize and Ministry of Education travel to Colorado and learn from DCSD teachers inside their own classrooms.  It is that cohesive relationship that makes the program so successful.

“We go down there really not out of charity but of solidarity, that we are together lifting our students and it’s a joint effort,” Kirshner said. “It’s our world and the teachers in Belize are raising stewards of the planet just like we are, and together our kids are going to carry us forward.”

October 30, 2013 | By SCPaulsen | Category: Mammoth Heights Elementary School, Elementary Education

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.