By Guest Columnist Tracie L. Bennitt
The events of the past year and a half have had an impact on schooling nationwide. Schools that have been stagnant in growth and change were the most negatively impacted. The introduction of Summit Learning in the Woodland Park School District 6 years ago allowed WPSD to step up and switch to a remote based learning opportunity for students during the lockdown. Hours were spent to get the elementary schools online while the transition for 4th, 5th, middle school, 9th and 10th grades went quickly and smoothly as many of the courses were already transitioned for Summit Learning. Pivoting to remote learning at the onset of the pandemic made the 2019-20 school year a success for WPSD.
As the program has expanded, success in the classroom and on test scores increased as well. Students engage directly with teachers and mentors. Summit Learning offers schools customizable curriculum, a range of educational resources and technology tools, top-tier professional development for educators, and ongoing coaching and support for schools. Students have to actually learn the lessons before they are advanced to the next level. There was no cost to WPSD for this program to be implemented. Where schoolbooks normally cost around $100 each, using computer-based information allows for the students and staff to quickly access the most current data on subjects they are studying. Only a small portion of the day is spent on computers. It is important for our students of today to be able to be competitive in the marketplace for their futures. How parents and grandparents learned in the past has changed for our students today.
It’s obvious that to be successful and literate in today’s society, you need to be able to access, analyze, apply and create with the data available to you. That involves technology. This project-based, collaborative learning has been used successfully by Montessori schools and with Alzheimer’s patients to increase their learning skills. The new school superintendent, Dr. Neal, has scheduled independent consultants this fall to evaluate the success of the program in WPSD.
Parents should decide what is in the best interest of their children without the influence of politics or religion. As parents, you choose whether your children will attend a public, private, charter, religious or home school. Special interest groups and political parties in a community should not be able to financially influence the outcome of a non-partisan school board. It’s easy to see that there are candidates running for the WPSD Board that are engaged and committed in our community.
Dale Suiter looks at the fact that the whole world is moving forward. “As a school district, we have to do the same,” he stated. “In a realistic world, we will have technology, restorative practice, the 7 Mindsets, Enrichment Academy and online schooling. The students have dreams and are excited to be able to achieve them.
Amy Wolin, WPSD incumbent, works with students daily at the Rampart Library District. She’s helped coordinate Read-a-Thons and other activities in the schools. “I look to find solutions by asking for help, actively listening and encouraging parent involvement,” she said. “I always put kids first and make fact-based decisions with heart.”
“I want the best for the kids in our community,” stated WPDS incumbent Misty Leafers. “Civility and respect are two of my core principles. I believe we are stronger as a community when we listen to and learn from each other,” she added.
Working her life’s passion with individuals living with dementia and their courageous caregivers, Paula Levy spent thousands of hours volunteering throughout her three son’s school years. “I feel fortunate that our boys were able to experience all that they did while attending WPSD,” she said. “I know that I can deliver a clear and strong voice of reason and continue to build community collaborations when on the WPSD board.”
All are in agreement that the school board is no place for politics and that they each want to bring their best to the table in the interest of the kids in the district. Please vote November 2.