Check-In with Ms. Kovalesky (03/03/23)

Check-In with Ms. Kovalesky

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Community,

Spring Break is around the corner, and we can feel the excitement and energy of our staff and students coming to life. Even though we have a much-deserved break coming up, we have so many activities going on where our teachers and staff have gone well above their work-week expectations to support our students in the following ways:

  • TSA Competition
  • DECA Competition
  • Athletics- basketball, boys’ volleyball, girls’ soccer
  • Theater productions and Talent Show
  • Wish Week Events
  • Course Registrations
  • Career Discovery
  • Much, much more

We are so blessed and thankful for a staff that always goes above and to support our students during the day and in all the ways beyond the classroom.
The STEM Leadership Team and our amazing PTO continually seek ways to support our excellent staff with culture-building events, such as staff gatherings, special meals, treats, and celebrations. I want to thank all of the families who generously give each month to support our staff lunches and our teachers’ Wish Lists, donate their time to our school, and so much more.

On February 17th, STEM Leadership and our PTO helped fund a guest motivational speaker for PD Day. Each faculty member had the opportunity to reaffirm their “why” for being an educator. They worked in collaborative teams to determine what they wanted their school to look like, sound like, and feel like and participated in activities to build authentic leadership. The concluding activity was that the group helped create a chain of intentions to link our commitments to our students, the STEM community, and ourselves. If you’re inside our school at any point this school year, you’ll see the chain hanging in our new Secondary Commons area by the Gym.

Spring is also the time when our staff begins thinking about the next school year. This includes making personal and professional decisions that meet their individual needs. We hope that each and every one of our staff members stay with us for the next school year, but we also understand that some will leave our team to explore other options, embark on a life-changing move, or even want to explore a whole new industry.

As I shared previously, January is the time when we start to collect important information and data (Family Intent-to-Returns, Student Course Registration Information, Staff Intent-to-Returns, etc.) from our families, students, and staff so that we can prepare for the next school year. The administration team has been hard at work over the last few weeks organizing and analyzing all that data so that we are now in a position to move forward with Staff Offer Letters in the coming weeks.

One of our biggest challenges will always be maximizing our budget to offer competitive salaries within the Douglas County School District. We aim to maintain alignment with the DCSD pay scale while offering extra incentives, such as stipends and bonuses, when possible. While we wish we could compete with other school districts, our lower PPR funding and lack of a Mill Levy Override make it incredibly challenging.

We are hopeful that the culture that we are building and the improvements that we’ve made this school year will go a long way in helping with staff retention. We are heading into a very active hiring season within education, so that you will see positions posted for the 2023-24 school year on our Employment page on the website. I want to caution our community that this does not mean there is a large number of staff leaving. Instead, we have a lot of movement during this time (staff moving positions within departments and grade levels; retirements, etc.), and we want to be as prepared as possible.
As I close my message for this week, I want to share how proud I am of our National Honor Society, which hosted the annual Wish Week this week.

Students and staff participated in various daily activities during the day and hosted fun evening events, which drew record attendance numbers. We have celebrated our Wish Week students in true Disney style! I want to thank our community for their generosity in helping us make Colton’s wish to go to Disney possible.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

In Partnership,

LynAnn Kovalesky, Executive Director

P.S. Please take a moment to read Deputy Gabe’s Walking the Beat message this week. If you didn’t know, Deputy Gabe writes a message to our community each week in our newsletter. This week’s message is critical for our community to read. Thank you.

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