Telluride School District officials held a community forum in the Palm Theatre on Monday evening in continuing discussions on the “Visioning our Future” initiative. Board of Education President Stephanie Hatcher, board member Cheryl Miller and district superintendent John Pandolfo coordinated the forum.
Hatcher emphasized that they are in the idea stage, but intend to use what they have gathered to make a “conscious and intentional change.”
During a recent retreat, board members, the superintendent, the three school principals and a consultant decided upon one statement that embodied the key points they would like to focus on and discuss within the community and school system.
That statement is: “To maximize post-secondary success in a diverse world, the Telluride School District educates each student through excellent academics and equitable opportunities, while addressing individual needs and fostering a culture of high achievement, within a safe and healthy community.”
The five key takeaways from the statement are academics, equitable opportunities, individual needs, high achievement, and a safe and healthy community, Hatcher explained.
The five policies were discussed more thoroughly Monday, as the question “What does higher education and academic achievement look like?” was a common theme.
While post-secondary success is the final goal, the board emphasized focusing on policies teachers can use now in their classrooms on a day-to-day basis.
“The question is how we get that to present tense without losing the ultimate goal,” Miller said.
A topic that came up during last week’s forum was the question and interpretation of the words “a culture of high achievement.”
“Does that mean more high-level academics for students that are in the top classes, or are we really about bringing every student to their maximum potential?” Pandolfo asked.
Feedback like defining “a culture of high achievement” within the district has already influenced Pandolfo. Perhaps, he said, there is a better way to phrase the statement in the future.
Hatcher and Miller emphasized that this is a small school district. There is only the board, the superintendent, the principals, and the teachers.
“I think what makes something like that also complicated is the long list of things we are doing,” Miller said. “It’s not just the academics. Historically, high-achieving schools have meant exclusive, and that’s not what we are trying to say.”
Many of the traits mentioned by the attendees can be found in the Telluride Graduate Values document, Pandolfo added. The document is a front-facing resource for students within the district. It includes key elements like mental health, good citizenship, creative and critical thinking, and the unique community of Telluride. The outcome the district wants for students is to recognize these values as important, not for them to necessarily embody everything listed in the document.
Pandolfo acknowledged the importance of the document and its stated values, but emphasized that the purpose of the Monday meeting was to discuss more behind-the-scenes policies.
As far as implementing the discussed actions and statements, the first step is to review all the governance policies, including the end statements featured in the forum.
“We have to understand the end statements are going to change,” Pandolfo said.
Anybody can give feedback through forms found on the district’s website at tellurideschool.org. The feedback from these forms and the community meetings will be taken into account and discussed by the school board. The online form directs users to the presentation slides that have been shown at the forums.
When asked when the feedback will be considered and when the implementation process will begin, Hatcher responded, “Our goal is the end of the calendar year.”
“We will have a monitoring schedule in place,” Pandolfo added. “The schedule says that for 11 months of the year (the board doesn’t meet in July), which policies and end statements would be monitored in any given month, but we may not be ready to start that in January. We may pilot it through the spring, but then look towards the next annual cycle to move into some level of full implementation.”
For links to the presentation, feedback form and more detailed information on the discussed policies, go to tellurideschool.org.