First was the release of the school grading report cards (and really good news for Central Consolidated School District). Now the celebrations are coming.
Central Consolidated School District (CCSD) Interim Superintendent Terrian Benn, Board President Adam Begaye and Director of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. Louisa Lopez-Martinez made 11 surprise visits to schools that have improved their letter grades, as well as schools that have maintained their already impressive scores. The group also presented the schools with checks in celebration and recognition of the grades they received from the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED).
The schools honored were Nizhoni Elementary, Newcomb High, Newcomb Elementary, Ojo Amarillo Elementary, Kirtland Middle, Kirtland High, Kirtland Elementary, Mesa Elementary, Eva B. Stokely Elementary and Shiprock High School. All of these schools received a banner with their letter grade and a $300 check from CCSD for a student celebration.
The group’s first stop was Nizhoni Elementary. Nizhoni had the biggest progress, improving three letter grades going from an “F” to a “B” in one school year.
“We credit the improvement to our efforts to teach students by engaging them in ways that keep their attention, by using learning centers within the classroom. We also believe that our professional learning communities, where teachers share information and techniques, have made a huge difference in the way we adapt to our students’ needs,” said Nizhoni principal Dr. J. Kaibah Begay.
The following stops at Newcomb High and Newcomb Elementary celebrated improving from a “D” to “C” and from a “C” to “B,” respectively.
“We were really happy and excited to find out about the grades. The staff understands the urgency and making a commitment to professional development trainings, plcs and grade level collaborations. The teachers and staff have worked very hard and are diligent to live by our mission of communication, commitment and collaboration,” said Newcomb Elementary principal Deborah Belone.
“For Ojo Amarillo, the focus is high on engagement and support for our struggling learners. One of the big changes we put in last year was incorporating supporting structures for struggling students. We also continue to strive to create a school climate that focuses on accountability as a key focus area,” said Ojo Amarillo Elementary principal Dr. Pandora Mike.
Ojo Amarillo improved to a “C,” after two years with a grade of “D.”
“CCSD is very proud that the hard work of all the teachers, staff and students at these schools was recognized by the state, and that we have a chance to celebrate their efforts and ideas,” Board President Adam Begaye said. “They are leaders in our district and working under very difficult conditions. We should look at their accomplishments and make sure they know we view them as examples of what we are doing well and how we can improve other schools.”
On the way to Judy Nelson, the group visited Kirtland elementary, middle and high to celebrate their improvements. Kirtland high maintained their “C” grade, while Kirtland Middle jumped back up to a “C.” Kirtland Elementary maintained a grade of “B” for the third year in a row.
“We are so proud of our A, B and C schools. If you take a deeper look at our test scores and the school grades, many of our student scores are growing. When our data team looked deeper into the numbers, you could see very positive trends as far as students making large gains in proficiency from one grade to the next to the next. Let’s keep in mind that the PARCC scores don’t follow students as they move up in grades,” Interim Superintendent Terrian Benn said. “We do recognize that we have much work to do to be able to address all the challenges we face to get to where we want to be.”
Judy Nelson, a school that received a visit from the New Mexico Secretary of Education Christopher Ruszkowski last year as part of the Straight “A” Express, received another “A” this year (and for the third year in a row).
Judy Nelson Elementary School Principal Steve Carlson credited the grade to “consistency of good staff, teachers that have high expectations of students. We feel that our students can perform at the same or higher level than students all over the nation.”
The group stopped by Mesa Elementary, Eva B. Stokely Elementary and Shiprock High School, schools that received a “B” from NMPED.
Shiprock High School Principal John Tohtsoni credited their improvement to students and staff, and the impact of monitoring student growth through evaluations and analyzing those results.
“We are building a culture of learning at Shiprock High. We’ll continue to work towards being an excellent school,” said Tohtsoni.
Bond Wilson Opens
More than 200 people filled the dining hall of the Bond Wilson Technical Center in early September, as it officially celebrated its grand opening after a successful pilot year.
The Bond Wilson Technical Center is a bold, new district initiative to revamp the high school experience around students’ career interests and our local industry. The goal of innovative dual credit offerings combined with industry experiences is to prepare students to enter the workforce and the post-secondary setting ready to hit the ground running.
“We created this center because we believe in you,” Interim Superintendent Terrian Benn said at the event.
“We are creating pathways for high school students to be able to reach higher education,” said Dr. Elmer Guy, President of Navajo Technical University, a key partner of the Center.
The pathways are Computer Science, Pre-Engineering, Welding, Construction, Industrial Maintenance Operations, Culinary Arts, Pre-Nursing and Public Health. Each pathway allows students to attain university certificates. Students complete their regular secondary level core classes at their home high school, and then attend Bond Wilson Technical Center for their higher education classes.
The objective of the Center is to develop a new generation of competitive, skilled students that will support the evolving economic needs of the Navajo Nation and our surrounding communities.
“Bond Wilson gives our students opportunities that wouldn’t be possible without our partners,” said Board President Adam Begaye, referring to Navajo Technical University and local industry partners; Raytheon, Arizona Public Service, Navajo Transitional Energy Company, North American Coal- Bisti Fuels, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, and Teach for America.
“We had a vision of creating a center that served all of our students and we dreamed with what to do with this building. And this vision is not too big, but big enough to resolve the problems that we face,” said Coordinator of Bond Wilson Milo McMinn. During the event, he mentioned that 50% of jobs available today will have disappeared in 20 years and that innovative educational initiatives must be developed to prepare students for the constantly changing workforce.
Also in attendance were representatives of Bond Wilson partners, including Elaine Perea, Director of College and Career Readiness for NMPED, and Nathan Tohtsoni, Navajo Transitional Energy Company Education Coordinator.
Waiting outside for the ribbon cutting ceremony was Layne Barton.
Layne is the kind of student you can find excelling at the Bond Wilson Technical Center. A student of Kirtland Central High School, Layne studies at the APS power plant, is learning Japanese and, since last year, flying drones.
He said he started flying small models first, the type that requires practice and lots of attention or they drop down and break. Now he operates the bigger, more expensive and complicated models.
He started learning how to fly a drone last year and now, during the opening of Bond Wilson, he flew the drone and took video and photos of the ceremony.
He said it is fun to do, but it also has real-world applications, from using the drone to film weddings and take long views of college campuses to military uses and safety measures at coal mines.
Layne is considering a career in engineering.
How to apply to Bond Wilson
Any high school student (10th-12th grade) in Central Consolidated School District can participate in the early college initiatives hosted at the Bond Wilson Technical Center.
For information on the Bond Wilson Technical Center, see your school counselor, call 505-598-4581 or visit www.bondwilson.org.