To see a complete list of John Irwin Schools of Excellence recipients, visit www.cde.state.co.us/cdeawards/johnirwin.htm.
Steamboat Springs Editor's Note: This story has been updated from its original version, to clarify Kady Dodds' description of the basis of Schools of Excellence awards.
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman said he was proud to make a special announcement to his staff Wednesday morning.
He told the group that the Colorado Department of Education recognized the high school Tuesday with a John Irwin Schools of Excellence award. The award also was given to Steamboat Springs Middle School.
The award, given to 151 Colorado public schools this year, honors the top 8 percent of schools whose students perform at the highest levels on Colorado State Assessment Program tests.
“I think it says what I’ve been saying for a long time,” Taulman said. “We can do everything we want to do. We can add any program we want to add. We can do this and that. But our staff is what makes students do well. I think that’s been proven in education. It’s the people on staff who make the most difference in education.”
High school French teacher Babette Dickson called the award and the praise given to the district’s teachers “flattering.” Dickson, who also is president of the Steamboat Springs Education Association, the district’s teachers union, said that recognition reflected the passion and dedication of the teachers.
Dickson added that the relationships between faculty, staff and the district’s leadership have created the environment to best educate students.
“The way we work and the culture that we have in our schools, all the teachers, it’s like a family,” she said. “We pretty much know each other. We try to be as supportive as we can with each other. For us to receive support from the parents, the administration and the community, I think we’re really valued for what we do.”
Kady Dodds, senior policy associate for the Colorado Department of Education, said Schools of Excellence awards are based on an academic achievement framework that measures a school's percentage of students who score proficient or advanced on CSAP math and reading tests.
Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop said he was caught off guard by the award. He also praised the community and said the award wouldn’t be possible without the middle school’s talented staff members, who develop relationships with students and push them to succeed. He said the students work hard for teachers and it shows.
“I think that translates to students wanting to do well on these student assessments,” he said. “If they don’t take any stock in these assessments, they can just blow them off.”