By Kirk Carpenter
Aztec Schools 



November 17, 2017

Wow, where has the school year gone, it is already time for Thanksgiving. I wanted to share some information with you on some of the work we are doing in our district to continually improve.

Principals Pursuing Excellence

We have five of our six schools involved in a program called Principals Pursuing Excellence. PPE is a two-year program aimed at leveraging the expertise of New Mexico's educational leaders to support and empower New Mexico's school leaders as they work to dramatically improve student achievement in their schools. In all, we have nine school level administrators and three district administrators participating in this professional development program. Two of our schools, Park Avenue Elementary and Lydia Elementary, are in their second and final year of the program. Aztec High School, Vista Nueva High School and Koogler Middle School are in their first of two years in the program. The program is geared toward training leaders in the school on the best practices that have the greatest impact in improving schools. The nice thing about this work is that because of some of the previous training we received in a program from the University of Virginia, it is a lot of the same work we have been doing, but it has a mentor component tied to it to ensure that we are progressing to meet certain expectations. This is a great opportunity and provides for another set of eyes to help us, so that we can move forward as a district. All the work is about improving instruction so the ultimate benefactors are the students. The other benefit of this program is that it is funded by the Public Education Department so there isn't a cost to our district.

Teachers Pursuing Excellence

In addition to PPE we also have two schools involved in a program called Teachers Pursuing Excellence. There were only six districts that received this PED grant and we were able to get two schools in. TPE is similar to the PPE, but this program is for the teachers. Park Avenue Elementary and Koogler Middle School are the two schools that qualified for this program. We have had one training so far and it was a great day that we spent with staff. It, too, has some of the same practices that we have been using, but being able to access more training will be very beneficial and will only do great things to improve our instruction and our student achievement.

High Schools that Work

Our two high schools are doing work in a program called High Schools that Work. This initiative is something that the district is paying for. It has a strong literacy and math focus on the standards that are taught in these two areas. There is a lot of professional development that staff attend. It is a train-the- trainer model in which designated teachers attend training and then share that with their colleagues. We have a mentor that makes school visits several times a year to inspect instruction and consults with the leadership team at AHS and VNHS as well. In addition, there will be on-site professional development that will be taking place with both high school faculties in January and throughout the year during their Professional Learning Community time as well.

As you can see there is a lot of improvement effort going on in our district, and it is all about ensuring we are doing all we can to improve student achievement for all of our students. I can tell you that our staff is working harder than ever before and we thank them for that.

As the holiday season begins, I hope that you and your family have a lot to be thankful for and that you get to spend some quality time with family, friends, and loved ones. I am thankful and feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community and the best school district in the state and surrounded by the best employees in the state as well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thank you for supporting our school district.


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