District stresses positive thinking

Superintendent: Avoid ‘cul de sac
of despair’

The average time required to turn a failing school around is five years, twice the average tenure of a school principal.

That was the outlook Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 Superintendent Alex Carter relayed to school board officials last week. He then praised board members for recently adopting an asset-based thinking resolution, which aims to alleviate negative outlooks toward academic success among all school officials.

“We can’t get in a cul-de-sac of despair,” said. “We have to address our challenges, but we don’t have to dwell on them.”

All future school district employee contracts will include a pledge to adopt an asset-based approach in the classroom. The measure aims to ensure all school officials, from custodians to the superintendent, implement a more positive outlook when tackling the district’s educational shortcomings.

“Teachers are craving positivity, but they are instead surrounded by negativity,” Carter added. “We can no longer approach education with deficit-based thinking.”

Last week, Carter launched a superintendent’s road show to inform current administrators, teachers and staff of the new initiative. He said a consistent, positive message from school officials could help lift the district out of a downward spiral.

In addition, Carter told school board officials the new measure has already better positioned the district’s effort to undertake a 22-month turnaround program through the University of Virginia.

“Districts that move forward adopt a can-do attitude,” Carter said.

The UVA turnaround program will focus on improving academic achievements at each of the districts three failing elementary schools. Combined, slightly more than half of the districts elementary students are proficient in reading and mathematics, less than a third are proficient in writing and slightly more than a quarter are proficient in science, according to school records.

UVA officials claim that hundreds of failing schools across 16 states have benefited from the turnaround program over the last decade. The program pairs UVA business and education experts with school systems to institute new practices that lead to increased student success.

The Colorado Department of Education is completely funding the district’s $255,000 price tag to enroll in the UVA school turnaround program.