Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Families,
Happy Friday! Can you believe that we are almost at the end of the school year? While the excitement begins to build for so many of our students, your administration and leadership teams are staying focused on the important work that still needs to be done.
With a few weeks as Interim Executive Director under my belt, I wanted to share with our community some of the things we’re working on and will be focusing on this summer so that we are ready to go for another great school year.
The team has been working all year on implementing the feedback data from the staff surveys from last year. The biggest implementation and improvement area is with our Professional Development and Teacher Support Team efforts. This team, wholly supported by our Leadership and Administration Teams, has taken the actionable items that were identified last year as improvement items, to provide that much-needed support for our teachers.
A Cohesive Administration Team
The Building Directors made a conscious effort to be more present and proactive with our staff. They have improved the lines of communication and have also provided clear and consistent reinforcement of our support structure to reduce confusion and also mixed messaging.
Improving teacher and staff salaries has long been an area of action for the Leadership Team. It wasn’t until just recently that the Douglas County School District released the updated salary structures for faculty and staff. We’ve been working alongside our Business Office for the last month to audit, review and adjust where necessary so that we can align. While we’ve done this each year, previous salary structures were difficult to interpret, and the recent one is more aligned with the district’s strategic plan goals, making it more clear for us to follow.
The Leadership Team has been committed all year long to improving staff culture in very specific ways that were related to the actionable items we received from our staff surveys last year. In partnership with our amazing PTO, our teachers and staff have felt the support and care from our community. Thank you to everyone who has participated this school year. The weekly meals, little cards of appreciation, and so much more are the things that make this community amazing. This summer, the team plans to dive even further into the staff surveys to see where some additional areas are to make improvements.
We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that our student enrollment has declined over the past two years. While we are focusing heavily on how to retain and also increase our student numbers, I am encouraged to see a slight increase as we head into the summer. I am also thrilled that members of our amazing staff are stepping up to help our efforts by creating a STEM Outreach Team. This group is tapping into what makes STEM special and getting us focused again on what inspires young learners. Be on the lookout for some of our events over the summer. If you want to be a part of our team, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Families and students leaving STEM
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the families and students who will be leaving us at the end of the school year for their commitment to and support of STEM during their time here. For some, the time has been amazing and life events are what is taking you away from STEM. For others, the time has not been what you’d hoped for and you are making the best decision for your student. I want to acknowledge that we have had some rough waters these past few years and that we have not always been able to meet every family’s needs. My hope is that you find the right fit for your student and your family, even though it is not here with us at STEM. I would like to encourage any families who are leaving STEM at the end of the school year to please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are any students who are leaving STEM and would like to provide us with feedback, please reach out to Mr. Alsup (email@example.com).
Families continuing the STEM Journey with us
Thank you to all of our amazing families who believe in our Mission of Never Stop Innovating. You all inspire me to come to work every day, to give it my all, and to keep pushing for what’s best for us all. As I said in my interview rounds, I knew from the moment I accepted the position back in the Spring of 2019 that I was needed here. I still feel that way and I am excited and confident that we have the right people in the right positions to continue the work of getting us back on track. This work is not easy and we will not be able to accomplish everything quickly, but we are committed for the long haul.
Last Weeks of School
Our students, families and staff had not had a normal end to a school year in quite some time. As we continue to work through our recovery from the incident on May 7 and two years of COVID, we are encouraged to see our resiliency. Being back in person with no restrictions has allowed for our community to come back together and we are seeing more and more engagement. Our goal for the last few weeks of school are to bring some of the fun and excitement back to our building and our community. I hope to see you at all of our fun events coming up.
While this is the last of the topics I am touching on, it is by no means the least important. Heading into next week is going to be very hard for a lot of our community. We still have a large amount of our staff, students and families who were present on May 7, 2019. Three years is not a long time and for many, the events of that day are still very present. Please help me in making sure we are there for one another next week. The events planned for next week are to provide us the opportunity to give back, reflect and continue our road through recovery. The journey looks different for us all and next week is our time to be there for those who need it the most. Please consider checking out the STEM Center for Strength to see the programming they have available, and please consider taking part in our STEMShares week of Acts of Kindness, Acts of Service and Acts of Donation.
Together as one #STEMStrongerTogether Community, we can do this.
LynAnn Kovalesky, Interim Executive Director