Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August Letter to Families

August 7, 2010

Greetings Denver Elementary Families,

I hope this letter finds you refreshed after a great summer with your children….or perhaps, you might be more refreshed after a few weeks when your child/children return to school and a routine becomes commonplace once again. At any rate, we staff members are excited to welcome the students back for another exciting school year full of rigorous and relevant learning, challenges, and fun!

We welcome this school year with a lot of change, as we embark on our theme, “Building upon the past, creating a promising future”. The most obvious reason for this theme is clearly our recent groundbreaking on our building project, which will inevitably transform the current 3-12 site, into a PK-12 site, eliminating the use of the current K-2 building as it is today. We plan project completion to occur in August of next year, and we will begin the 2011/2012 school year with all students on one site.

To prepare for this change, starting this school year, busses will be dropping 3-12 students off and picking 3-12 students up on the East side of our 3-12 campus on Fairview street. Third through Eighth grade parent drop off will continue to exist on the south end of our campus on Lincoln Street. K-2 traffic patterns will remain the same. But we do ask for ONE WAY drop off and pick up before and after school, running north on S. Russell Street, and East after school on E. Franklin Street. We believe that these changes will be what are best to keep our students safe and to keep traffic flowing. WE ASK THAT PARENTS PLEASE AVOID PICKING YOUR CHILDREN UP AND DROPPING THEM OFF ACROSS THE STREET OPPOSITE OUR ONE-WAY TRAFFIC FLOW AT EVERY LOCATION. THIS IS FOR YOUR CHILD’S SAFETY! (A map and a more detailed (perhaps less confusing) explanation of the 3-12 changes will be shared online, within the Denver Forum, and provided to you along with this letter.)

Another profound reason for choosing our theme this year is that we continue to build upon our outstanding curriculum, by adding an extensive adoption of the National Common Core Curriculum that will align with our state based Iowa Core Curriculum. Our staff will work extensively this year during professional development on matching rigorous content based teaching and learning to that of common formative assessments while also incorporating technology.

Our teachers have spent days upon hours this summer reflecting and refining their professional practice and many have spent days outside of our district attending professional learning opportunities. We are so fortunate to have the dedicated professionals that we do, working in our school organization here in Denver.

This school year, you will see many changes in staff arrangement and placement. We feel that we have the right people in the right places to make this school year parallel to no other. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure rich growth and learning for every child!

With anticipation and enthusiasm I welcome you again, to what is expected to be a fantastic school year, where we continue our work of “Building upon the past and creating a promising future”.

Most Sincerely,

Kimberly J. Tierney

Mrs. Kim J. Tierney

Elementary Principal

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Every summer, through my continued learning, something is brought to my attention through a book that I read, a conference that I attended, et cetera, that will make me a better leader.

This summer there were several things that struck a cord with me, and challenged me to change my thinking, but there was one chapter within a book that I read, entitled, Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott, that offered a tool that I feel will make future challenges that are brought to me on a nearly daily basis, easier.

Burnout is a fact of life, in the field of education. I don’t feel it yet, and refuse to let it bite me as I continue in this work. Burnout happens, according to Scott, because we are trying to solve the same problems over and over and over.

I was pressed to think of those most often recurring and pressing issues both personally and professionally. I started to reflect on how those problems/issues are brought to my attention by both students and teachers on a regular basis. To be honest, I love this part of my job, it is satisfying for me to help others solve the challenges that they face. That is one reason why I consider myself a leader, and one more reason why I love my job as an elementary principal.

I challenge you to think about how you might use this form within your school or organization, maybe even your personal life. Think about how you might use this with your teachers, colleagues, your students, or even your spouse. I hope to use this form within our Building Facilitator Team meetings. I feel that this will allow all struggles and challenges to be heard by each member of our leadership team, and we can collaboratively and collectively take a look at some pressing issues, and come to a consensus on the most fitting conclusion for us as an organization. I will also recommend that teachers use this format, when presenting more prevailing struggles to me individually as well.

PRESENTING THE ISSUE (Fierce Conversations, Scott)


(Be concise. In one or two sentences, get to the heart of the problem. Is it a concern, challenge, opportunity, or recurring problem that is becoming more troublesome?)


(What’s at stake? How does this affect dollars, income, people, products, services, customers, family, timing, the future, student learning, relationships, or other relevant factors? What is the future impact if the issue is not resolved?)


(What specific results do I want?)


(Summarize with bulleted points: How, when, why, and where did the issue start? Who are the key players? Which forces are at work? What is the issues current status?)


(What have I done so far? What options am I considering?)


(What results do I want from the group? For example, alternative solutions, confidence regarding the right decision, identification of consequences, where to find more information, critique of the current plan.)