Chap feeder tries something new to build community
PARKER- School leaders, educators and students in the Chaparral feeder are coming together to develop an open dialogue about strengthening collaboration and communication within the feeder to best meet the needs of the students and families they serve.
During the most recent professional development day, principals from all seven schools in the Chaparral feeder pulled their staff together for collaborative learning and strategizing as one unit under one roof. Hundreds of educators shared ideas with their peers from other schools to come up with a better and more cohesive way to work together.
“The focus of today was building and talking about relationships with our feeder groups so we can start having those conversations about vertical alignment, what we need to do and what the difference is between us,” said Chaparral High School Principal, Greg Gotchey.
Feeder principals began conceptualizing the day this past summer with the goal of building family across the schools to provide teachers with more resources and opportunities for students. For example, with so much talent and expertise in each building, Gotchey envisions teachers sharing their knowledge with each other across schools.
“The question we need to start asking ourselves as educators is, can we provide the expertise to our students? We do have math majors and people with master’s degrees in science. Can we do things to help support our core teachers?” Gotchey said. “This could also allow us to learn from our elementary educators when it comes to literacy and teaching pedagogy. I taught physics, my job was no pressure— there are a lot of very successful people in the world who don’t know anything about physics. But there isn’t one who doesn’t know how to read because of what they learned in second grade. So the question turns into, what can we learn from each other?”
Sierra Middle School Professional Learning Specialist (PLS), Sadie Levine, felt that the day was successful as a first step in building those connections.
“We hear in breakout sessions that when you feel disconnected, you feel alone. That doesn’t feel as good as being part of a group. For me, when we talked as PLS’ and leadership teams, that’s why it was important for us to try to come together and join in this way,” Levine said.
Levine previously taught at both Cimarron Middle School and Legend High School during a time when the two schools were housed under one roof. She said the communication was strong between teachers on students unique learning styles, which benefitted everyone.
“I want to have that same sort of feeling between our content areas and the teachers at our schools, or if we’re struggling with a kid in middle school, let me go back and connect to a previous teacher of theirs in elementary so I can dig into those issues a little bit more,” she said.
Some Chaparral High School students, who attended schools within the feeder for their entire childhood, were also invited to speak in several breakout sessions— in many cases to their own former teachers— about their experience at each school they attended, what worked well, what they found challenging and opportunities they saw. They felt the collaborative day will only further benefit the student experience.
“These teachers are building relationships now and it will be encouraging to see Sierra teachers tell students ‘I have a friend who teaches at Chap and you would really like them as a teacher. They teach a lot like me,’” said senior Alex Lehman. “As a student that makes moving onto the high school seem less scary and not a bad place or such a drastic change.”
The building of bridges between the elementary schools, middle school and high school doesn’t end there. Schools are coming together for more events, sharing the celebrations outside of each individual school and reaching out to support the entire feeder group. Senior Camryn Glasco thinks this will build pride within the feeder.
“I think kids will be more excited about growing up in Chaparral and getting involved and even achieving more. It allows students to work with teachers, be more prepared and set goals to work towards that so they don’t just disappear at the end of the year,” Glasco said.
Chaparral senior, Abby Ulrich, added, “it is so cool to see the community that is forming, not just one school getting stronger, everyone is here and trying to make a difference.”