Students return to San Juan Schools
Aug 25, 2010 | 5760 views | 0 0 comments | 131 131 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local students returned to the classrooms on August 18 in the San Juan School District. Students at Whitehorse High School returned to a school that had undergone a significant transformation over the summer.

A $2 million project has resulted in an entirely new heating and cooling system for the school, which had experienced significant heating problems in recent winters.

“Our teachers and students are very excited to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter,” said Whitehorse Principal John Fahey. Fahey added that the project included the installation of new lighting systems, geometric designs in the hallways, ceiling tiles and freshly cleaned walls.

“It smells like a brand new school,” said one excited student.

Construction continues on the new Tsébii’nidzisgai Elementary School at Monument Valley, which is set to open in one year. A project to build housing for teachers at the new school will also be completed before the start of school in 2011.

A new school year always brings new faces and there are a number of new students and teachers in the sprawling district.

In addition, two schools have new principals, with Terry Gorman taking over at Blanding Elementary School and Barbara Silversmith taking the reins at Bluff Elementary School.

A new principal and the turnover of several faculty members at Bluff helped the school become eligible for a federal grant that will bring $750,000 to Bluff Elementary School over the next three years.

The goal of the program, which is funded through emergency stimulus funds, is to dramatically increase student performance at the school.

Teachers at the school will be evaluated based upon student achievement and performance. If test scores increase significantly, the teachers will be eligible for significant performance incentives.

In addition, the school will have enhanced support for the implementation of a “professional learning community” program (PLC). The PLC effort will feature extensive training for faculty and staff, close monitoring of student performance and academic-focused student achievement.

The PLC effort will be under the direction of Aaron Hansen, a principal from Nevada who was named Nevada’s “Innovative Educator of the Year” in 2009 for implementing a similar program at his school.

A third feature of the new efforts at Bluff is the Children’s Media Workshop, which “utilizes visual artists and media technology… to greatly increase the communication and language skills of participants.”

In other matters at the August 18 meeting of the San Juan School Board, the school district boundary in Spanish Valley could be adjusted as soon as January 1, 2011.

The school district is considering a proposal that would move the Spanish Valley area from the San Juan School District to the Grand School District. Spanish Valley students account for approximately ten percent of the Grand schools student body. Adjusting the district boundary to include Spanish Valley would give the Spanish Valley residents a voice in the education of their children.

The results of student testing for No Child Left Behind will be released on August 30.
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