School positions filled

Student improvement top priority

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The seven open positions in the South Routt School District have been filled and officials say they are looking forward to working with the new staff members to improve test scores.

Four teachers, a counselor, a principal and one secretary will be new when classes begin in the fall.

"I feel real good about this group of teachers," South Routt Superintendent Steve Jones said.

Kim Rabon, from the Denver area, took the first-grade teaching job. She is an experienced teacher with a master's degree in education. She will be joined at the elementary school by new principal Troy Zabel. He was an assistant principal at Hayden High School. Prior to that, he taught sixth grade at Hayden Middle School for five years.

At Soroco Middle School, Coleen Quinn will be the new counselor. Terry Gerba was splitting duties between the high school and middle school, Jones said.

Quinn is from Steamboat and has a master's degree in school guidance counseling.

Holly Love-Crocker will be the new art teacher at the high school and middle school. Her last teaching job was in Montrose.

Also going between the two schools will be Harmony Glenn. She'll take the reins as the band teacher and voice coach. Glenn is from Pennsylvania, where she has two years of experience as a band teacher.

Another Pennsylvania resident, first-year teacher Michael Burnett, will take over the industrial arts program.

In a new position in the district, Amy Pankonin will be the placed-based teacher. Her job is organizing placed-based educational programs, which use social and environmental aspects of the community for teaching. Pankonin is an experienced teacher from Rifle and Craig. She will work with students of all ages.

Also, Yampa local Dina Murray has accepted the position as secretary at Soroco Middle School.

Lastly, there is a new bus driver in the district.

"I'm going to be driving the big rigs," Jones, the superintendent, joked.

As transportation director, Jones decided it would be good background if he got certified to drive a bus. He will take the wheel when there are some scheduling problems with the bus drivers.

With a new staff, Jones is ready to get to work. His primary focus is improving reading and writing skills.

Colorado Student Assessment Program test showed that fourth- and seventh-graders were below the state average in reading. In writing, local fourth-graders were below the state average and seventh-graders were barely above the mark.

"I was disappointed. The scores were completely unacceptable," Jones said.

He's holding himself and the district responsible for the scores, not the kids.

"We're just going to have to do something about it," Jones said.

School board members feel the same way, said Bob Logan, who sits on South Routt School District Board of Directors.

"I think the entire board and the entire staff is not going to except it," he said.

With the community's support, Logan hopes to see the staff rally together to better educate students. In the past, half the students in south Routt have just slid by, Jones said.

"We're not going to allow that to continue," he said.

Jones wants to build a better summer school program, raise educational standards for student athletes and end social promotion.

The latter means that before students are allowed to move to the next grade, they will have to show the proper math, reading and writing skills.

Jones also wants to do a better job working with individual students and getting parents involved.

"There's no reason that we can't get a student to proficiency," he said.

The additions to the teaching staff will be a big help, Jones said.

"We did have more candidates in our pool and I feel optimistic about this group," he said.

Logan agreed.

"I think we're all pretty excited about the replacement people," he said.

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