Saturday, February 12, 2005
Cathleen Nardi looked up the length of the climbing wall at Steamboat Springs Middle School and slowly proceeded up its face.
Her adrenaline pumping, Nardi made it halfway up the wall before letting go and being lowered back to the ground.
"Part of this is about stretching yourself, and this is scary," said Nardi, the district's technology director. "But this was far better than being out on a frozen waterfall."
Friday was Nardi's first time rock climbing. She was one of many district employees who tried something new during the school system's professional development day.
Middle school and high school teachers came together Friday for a series of activities intended to build relationships between the two staffs. After meeting for breakfast at the high school, the teachers split into groups for a variety of activities. Teachers were encouraged to do something they had never done before. In addition to rock climbing, teachers ice climbed at Fish Creek Falls, made homemade tortillas, knitted scarves, snowboarded, skate skied and snowshoed.
"If you're able to kind of take a risk or do something new with a colleague, hopefully you'll build some trust and confidence in each other," high school assistant principal Mike Knezevich said.
The strategy worked for Karla Setter, a day treatment teacher at the middle and high schools.
"It was cool to put my trust in my co-workers who were belaying me," said Setter, who also rock climbed for the first time Friday. "It was fun."
In Ann Keating's basic life training classroom at the middle school, a group of teachers, including high school Principal Dave Schmid, made tortillas from scratch.
"I can't believe I made tortillas," Schmid said. "My wife's going to fall over. I never cook."
After the morning activities, all of the teachers gathered at the middle school to discuss instructional practices in small groups and then together as departments. For example, science teachers met and looked at examples of work from students in certain grade levels. The teachers discussed common trends evidenced by the work and talked about future visions for their departments, middle school assistant principal Jerry Buelter said.
Toward the end of the day, the entire staffs reflected on the day and what it was like to work together.
"We're trying to create these communities of learners at our schools," Schmid said. "We've done some work with the middle school in the past, but we need to do more. We truly can learn from one another."
"We don't see enough of each other," he said. "We're got to create time to meet more often."
Eventually, teachers and building principals hope they see each school as an extension of the other.
"We're trying to lose some of our independence as schools and become more of a district," Knezevich said.