Schools prepare for first day

Steamboat Springs teachers look forward to new changes


— Getting the Steamboat public schools ready to open their doors for the first day of school Monday has been no easy task for teachers and support staff.

The 15 new teachers at the high school and the seven new teachers at the middle school arranged their classrooms and worked with other teachers from the district on curriculum.

"I'm feeling pretty prepared," high school language arts teacher Jay VanLoenen said.

He said his bookshelves look a little empty in his new classroom, but he is ready for the start of school.

VanLoenen said high school administrators organized a retreat and a day for planning curriculum to help teachers get a start on the school year.

"We can't wait to get started," high school math teacher Anne Barbier said.

She said she participated in a nine-day math workshop to prepare for the start of school.

Steamboat Springs Middle School staff had to account for student growth this year with a summer remodel as well as design curriculum for the school's new flexible scheduling.

Middle School Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter said teachers have been working throughout the summer to get their curriculum ready for the start of school.

"The teachers are so enthusiastic about becoming a (true) middle school," he said.

Students will now have a core group of teachers that can closely monitor their academic work in school.

Buelter said the teachers are excited to be working in small teams and sharing a group of students.

Additional classrooms were needed to accommodate the new flexible scheduling.

As a short-term solution, the auxiliary gym was remodeled.

"It's amazing how quickly it has come together," Buelter said. He said he and the teachers started to get a little nervous when the project was delayed earlier in the summer.

The auxiliary gym, initially a one-story room, was remodeled to have two floors.

The new remodel created two extra classrooms, a language lab and a matted floor for wrestling.

"There are a lot of changes in this place," district employee Steve Schibline said.

He said the middle school was constructed for a maximum of 392 students, and enrollment reached 500 by 1995.

"We just ran out of space," he said. Schibline said the remodel has been completed in excellent time.

He said the middle school plans to add an additional wing next summer if funding is available.

"A lot of it is really the impact of student growth," he said.

Schibline said planning based on enrollment projections is hard to do because final enrollment numbers can be determined only after school starts.

The middle school also received improvements to its cafeteria.

Schibline said he has worked in a number of positions over his 13 years in the school district and has watched numerous kids, including his own, progress through the district.

"I feel lucky my kids go to school here," he said. "The teaching staff is great."

Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis said teachers from his school have been meeting all summer long to write curriculum and work on activities for the school.

He said teachers are excited about the new school year because of the success the school experienced last year.

Being ready for the first day of school is also reflective of the hard work of office managers, custodians and counselors.

Karen Campbell, office manager at the high school, said she has been taking student enrollment, informing students of new campus policies and helping students get organized for the new school year.

She said students were encouraged to check in, get their picture taken, take a driving course required for a parking permit, pay necessary school fees and become familiar with their schedules.

"The kids better be ready, because their teachers are," Buelter said. "They are ready to go."


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