Elementary News and Updates (09/23/22)

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Director Update

Check-In With Amiee McElroy, Elementary School Director

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Elementary Families,

September has been such a wonderful month of learning. Our students have settled into their classroom routines, and it has been so wonderful going into all the classes to see the students so engaged in their academics. I have a few important announcements.

First, I would like to introduce our new K-8 Dean, Jessica Manzanares. She started with us this past Monday and is a wonderful addition to our elementary team. Before STEM she was an art teacher at Peak to Peak Charter in Boulder Valley School District. Her passion is ensuring all students can access an equitable education. We are so excited to have her as part of our team. Be on the lookout in the upcoming weeks for her introduction video on our social media outlets.

Second, our October count window opens Monday, Sept. 26 and closes Monday, Oct. 10, with our official count day being Monday, Oct. 3. For those families who are new to the education syhttps://stem, October count is where DCSD and the Colorado Department of Education determine our official enrollment and then provides the school with our funding for the year. This funding is what STEM uses to pay teacher salaries, classroom and curriculum needs, and the operations of our facility. Student attendance between September 26-October 10 is critical, specifically on Monday, Oct. 3, as that is our official student count day. We ask that during this two-week window you limit off-campus appointments and travel so we can accurately report our attendance to the state. If you would like more information on how Colorado funds its schools, please visit the CDE website.

On a related topic, attendance in school is required by law for all children over the age of six. All students must be in school for a required number of days each year. When a student is chronically absent from school, this results in the student being truant. The threshold for truancy is 10% of the school year or 10 days. When a student misses more than 10% of the academic year, they are at risk for a loss of learning.

By law, STEM is required to send home truancy letters to families of students who are over this 10% threshold at any point during the academic year. This includes all types of absences, excused or unexcused. Extended absences also fall into this category. STEM will approve up to 10 days for an extended absence. It is crucial that you reach out to the classroom teacher and me if you have an extended absence for anything over three consecutive days.

Finally, parent-teacher conferences are around the corner. They will be held the week of October 10-14. Conferences are an opportunity to discuss your student’s academic progress and address concerns with the teacher. Please be on the lookout for communication directly from your student’s teacher in the upcoming weeks.

I look forward to our continued partnership throughout the year. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

In Partnership,
Amie McElroy
Elementary Director

Upcoming Events

STEM All-Events Calendar

Please take a moment to check the STEM All-Events Calendar on our website.

There are lots of events already scheduled so please take a moment to take a look at the calendar to familiarize yourself with some of the events at the start of school. This calendar will continue to be updated throughout the summer as we get closer to the start of school.

DEI Committee Meeting

Monday, Sept. 26, from 5-7 p.m. – High School Commons & Zoom

If you’re interested in getting involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at STEM, we encourage you to attend to find out more information. Email amie.mcelroy@https://stemk12.org with questions.

KOSON/STEM BOD Working Session

Monday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – Zoom

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding a Working Session via Zoom on Monday, oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. There is no public comment, however the community can tune in to watch the working session as an attendee on Zoom.

STEM Theater Presents: Little Women

November 10 & 11, at 6:30 p.m., & November 12, at  3 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

Mark your calendars!

Jo March isn’t your typical Victorian lady. She’s indecorous and headstrong, and one day she will be a great American novelist. As she and her sisters grow up in the middle of the Civil War, they strive to be brave, intelligent, and imaginative young women. But as adulthood approaches, each sister must negotiate her private ambitions with society’s expectations. In a war-torn world defined by gender, class, and personal tragedy, Jo March gives us her greatest story: that of the March sisters, four dreamers destined to be imperfect little women.

Tickets are $10. Links to purchase tickets will be provided soon! Contact Max Schwartz (max.schwartz@https://stemk12.org) with any questions.

News and Updates

Update from Mrs. Gasser on Standards Based Learning

Thank you for your patience while our staff is learning about grading through Standards Based Learning. At Friday’s professional development, our teachers worked on using Canvas and MasteryConnect to enter their grades. We worked on aligning our units to our standards and determining which assessments best allowed students to demonstrate their understanding. Here are some things to look out for.

For our Elementary School families, you should have received an email from MasteryConnect asking you to set up an account. This account will link you to your student’s MasteryTracker, which shows your student’s grades. We ask for some grace for our teachers as they learn all the pieces of MasteryConnect. If you notice that there is a mistake in one of the trackers, please kindly reach out to the teacher via email so that they can look into the issue.

For our Secondary School parents, we have finally been able to turn off the averaging function and the decimal point function in your student’s grade book. All assignments entered into the grade book prior to Friday might still have a decimal point and a number in the parenthesis. The number in the parenthesis is the score that the student received on that assignment. Any assignment entered after today will have a raw score of a 4, 3, 2 or 1.

Students should view their grades in the grade book by clicking on the show more details button in the top right corner. This will show the assignment grade, as well as the learning mastery grade. We ask for some grace for our teachers as they learn all the pieces of the learning mastery grade book. If you notice that there is a mistake in the grade book, please kindly reach out to the teacher via email so that they can look into the issue.

I have created the handout below that helps break down what you will see on Canvas for your child. In each unit, the teacher will determine which standard or standards they are assessing and then will provide feedback to students along the way. Teachers will collect assignments and assessments throughout the unit that demonstrate knowledge of the standard and enter them into the Canvas grade book. Students should monitor their grade book for feedback and to see their demonstration of knowledge grade.

Please have grace with our teachers while they are learning our new grading syhttps://stems, as there might be a few hiccups along the way. We ask students to politely email their teachers with grading questions and clarification. If you have any questions about grading or Standards-Based Learning, please check out our website, and click on student support, academics, and Standards-Based Learning.

Thank you,

Michelle Gasser, Director of Professional Development

Don't forget to order your school photos

School photos have been uploaded for families to view. Families can access their photos by visiting the link below, selecting the School Portrait Proofs link, and when prompted enter their private password in the following format: studentid#.

Elementary Yearbook Information

Elementary Yearbooks for the 2022-23 School Year are now on sale! Use the link below to purchase a soft cover ($21), or a hardcover ($31) yearbook.

Updated Snow Day Policy

As the winter season approaches, we want to announce updates to the current Virtual School Day for Inclement Weather policy. Last spring, one of our STEM students presented a proposal and justification regarding changes to our current Virtual School Day policy. As a result, the administration and Board of Directors determined that a change is recommended to the Snow Day Policy. We appreciate the leadership and voice our STEM students display and are happy to announce that STEM will follow the DCSD Snow Day policy with a closure. STEM also reserves the right to modify the calendar, schedule, or this policy, due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or construction that interrupts the required instructional minutes as set forth by the Colorado Department of Education. The following is a reminder of the current policies.

Late Start Schedule

STEM does not mimic the Late Start Policy and schedule put forth by DCSD. In the event that Douglas County calls for a Delayed Opening, STEM’s Virtual School Day Policy will take effect.

Virtual School Day for Inclement Weather

If DCSD determines that the district should follow the Delayed Opening protocol, STEM School Highlands Ranch will abide by its Virtual School Day Policy. When it snows, our school’s operation and instructional expectations will be determined by one of these three scenarios:

  • Updated: Snow Day – Douglas County Schools calls a snow day – STEM is closed (check www.dcsdk12.org)
  • Late Start Day – Douglas County Schools calls a Late Start day – STEM is closed and implements a Virtual School Day.
  • All Schools Open – Douglas County Schools declare Highlands Ranch area schools open – STEM is open and operating to our regular schedule.

Connect with other Parents

In case you didn’t know, families have specific Class Pages on Facebook where they can connect with other families from their student’s grade. You can find all of the different class pages on our Get Connected page of the Parent section of our website. Click the button below to see them.

Please note that these pages are administered by other parents and not by STEM.

Hiring for an IT Help Desk Technician

Our IT/Technology Support Team is hiring! They’re looking for a part-time IT technician to help during the school year from 7:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and then from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday in the summer months. If you or someone you know is a good fit for this position, please check out the job description via the button below and follow the steps to apply.

School Lunches are NOT Free This Year

Over the last two years, the USDA has provided school waivers that provide meals at no cost to the students. Those waivers expired after the 2021-22 School year ends. This means that a return to paid meals will begin August 8, 2022 for students that do not qualify for Free or Reduces Meal Benefits. DCSD is asking that ALL families please complete the Free or Reduced Lunch Application. While you’re completing the application, please make sure to check the box that allows for the information to be shared with your student’s school. Sharing this information with STEM allows for your student to be eligible for more benefits throughout the school year.

If a family does not qualify for FRL, the meals will cost the following:

$3.75 – Elementary

$4 – Middle School

All meal prices include an entree, fruit, veggies and milk. Ala carte options are available at all schools and prices vary by option. Students pay for school lunches through their MySchoolBucks account.

Calling all Industry Experts, Parents and Community Members!

Career Discovery Information (Facebook Post)

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

I-Matter Mental Health Support Extended to June 2023

Free therapy sessions are available for Colorado youth 18 and younger, or those 21 and younger if receiving special education services. Visit IMatterColorado.org to learn more.

Literary Resource of the Week

6 Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension

Developing reading comprehension skills is incredibly important for early readers, starting as early as picture books. As school-aged children get older, it will help them understand textbooks, newspapers, and other more complex texts. Scholastic offers plenty of grade-appropriate reading comprehension activity books that can help your child practice, but in addition, here are six tips to sharpen reading comprehension skills in your early reader.

Total Wellness Resource of the Week

Health Fueled By Fun – Wellness Activities for Kids

Health Powered Kids by Allina Health has made it their mission to educate and encourage kids to prioritize their health and wellness through a number of activities. Whether you’re looking to help your child manage stress better, learn about nutrition, teach them about the benefits of yoga and meditation, or educate them on what kids’ wellness means, we’ve got tips to help!

2023 U.S. Senate Youth Program Application available

The United States Senate Youth Program application for Colorado students is available. The 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week is being planned for March 4–11, in Washington, D.C. Each delegate will be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.

High school juniors or seniors with demonstrated leadership by serving in elected or appointed positions in which they are actively representing a constituency in organizations related to student government, education, public affairs and community service are eligible to apply.

Applications are due on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

2023 Daniels Scholar Applications Now Open

Colorado high school seniors can apply now to become a 2023 Daniels Scholar and receive up to $100,000 toward their college degree. Apply at www.DanielsFund.org/Scholarships by October 15 to be considered for a scholarship.

The Daniels Scholarship Program provides the opportunity for students to attend the college of their choice. The scholarship, based on financial need, provides up to $100,000 for a student to attend any two- or four-year nonprofit, accredited college or university in the United States.

Youth Congress - Friday, Oct. 7

Calling all DCSD high schoolers! The Douglas County Youth Initiative invites you to attend Youth Congress, an event where adult leaders work with youth on issues that affect the lives of Douglas County youth. This year’s topics will include: Mental Health Classes, Youth Criminal Justice, Pressure to Succeed, School Safety, Dogs in Schools, Youth Voice, Finances, and Trade School. The event takes place on Friday, October 7 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the DCSD Legacy Campus in Lone Tree.

myDCSD Virtual Forum with Superintendent Kane

Wednesday, September 28 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Topics: School Security, Mental Health, and Future Planning

Parent University - Mental Wellness: Back to School Anxiety

Hosted by Douglas County School District and Sky Ridge Medical Center

Wednesday, September 28 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Beginning a new school year can be a stressful time for kids and parents alike. Join Stephanie Crawford-Goetz, Ph.D., DCSD Director of Mental Health for Student Support Services, and Anat ‘Nati’ Geva, PsyD LP, Clinical Psychologist on the HCA Crisis Assessment Team (HCAT), to learn about anxiety that can come with the return to school. You will also learn about the support available to your child in DCSD schools and ways you can help!

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