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Rippey Ambassadors At School Board


December 21, 2018

L-R Front Row - Maddison Norwood, Pistol Barnes, Orion Sather, Charis Robinson, Braezyn Garcia, Alejandro Valerio & Conner Casados. Middle Row - Darrian Phillips, Sierrah Murphy, Dayton Jones, Daniella Alba, Cami Lucio, Zander Martin & Kassandra Durham. Back row – Jen Watts, Ashley Phillips, Charda Sanders & Sarah Muhn. Not pictured - Erica Bixler & Andrew Beusher - PHOTO - TALON

Lydia Rippey Ambassadors Perform

by David Edward Albright, TALON

An eventful meeting of the Aztec Municipal School Board took place on December 13, 2018, highlighted by a performance by the Lydia Rippey Elementary Student Ambassadors. McCoy Elementary School Principal Tatia Fernandez introduced one of her third grade teachers, Cynthia Gustamantes, who was recently honored among about 300 teachers reviewed, with the Golden Apple Award. Gustamantes said, "It's such an honor and I'm surrounded by fanstastic teachers in this district...and if I just keep modeling myself after them---then I feel like I deserve this award."

James Jacobs, Data and Assessment Coordinator, acknowledged sixth-grade language arts teacher Cassandra Brown, as one of less 3% nationally, who attain 'National Board Certification'. Brown said, "I initially wanted to go through it for the challenge...you take a really, really large test, write alot, analyze your student data, talk about collaboration and assessment and everything you work with in your school...and put together a portfolio. She said she really liked the process, which took her two years, and said it "helped her to look at her students in a different light and to ask herself questions about how to improve the quality of learning"---she'd never thought to ask before.

Superintendent Kirk Carpenter awarded board members, Wayne Ritter for acquiring 'Training Hours' and Fran Doby with two awards: 'Training Hours and 'Outstanding Leadership'.

Lydia Rippey Principal, Dana Stanley, introduced kindergarten teacher Ashley Phillips, who heads up their Student Ambassador program. Phillips said, "We're very excited to get going with this journey and we hope it will continue throughout the years. Our biggest thing at Lydia Rippey is---we really want to bridge the gap between home and school...that parents and families are on the same page, so we've taken a lot of steps to make sure that happens." Of the Ambassador program, she said, "It gives them an opportunity to showcase their leadership skills and really have a voice in their school". The following second and third graders are the Ambassadors: Maddison Norwood, Pistol Barnes, Orion Sather, Charis Robinson, Braezyn Garcia, Alejandro Valerio, Conner Casados, Darrian Phillips, Sierrah Murphy, Dayton Jones, Daniella Alba, Cami Lucio, Zander Martin, Kassandra Durham, Jen Watts, Ashley Phillips, Charda Sanders and Sarah Muhn. Ericka Bixler and Andrew Beusher were not in attendance. The children gave a lively performance of the 'Lydia Rippey Ambassadors' song and each one expressed a component of the program. "We are Aztec Strong", they loudly proclaimed---to stirring applause. As was done at the last meeting each Ambassador received a Tiger Pride pencil as they shooks hands with Deputy Superintendent, Tania Prokop, to practice graduation.

Item 3, a 'Travel Request' for American Indian Education Travel to JHOMA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada was presented by Kim Zah, Native American Coordinator. The annual event, held March 3-7, will likely be attended only by high school students and travel arrangements are pending. It was approved by the board.

Aztec High English teacher, Sarah Brockett, presented 'Fund Raiser' request for a seventeen-day trip to Europe, flying to London then to Paris and Spain. Six students are enrolled and four are "lurking in the background", she said about the trip that will cost each student about $5000. They plan to sell hot chocolate, coffee and tea at the high school. Brockett said of her trip to London in the eighth-grade, "It's a really good experience---I definitely got bit by the travel bug...it's just so different". The school newspaper has been revived by Brockett, who also teaches journalism. The fund raiser for the non-school sponsored trip was approved.

Item 5, 'Board Policy Adoption Step' was approved without questions or discussion. The 'Superintendent's Report' was an update on Carpenter's goals, which will be fully explained in his upcoming performance evaluation. He stated that safety is a major priority and was asked by Dobey about the one-to-one project, which gives each child in one fourth-grade class a computer. One key issue is whether or not to "adopt textbooks or techbooks", he said. The plan is to track the fourth-graders into next year---to assess their progress, as a result of greater access to technology.

Prokop gave the 'Personnel Report', stating "we're looking at twelve teaching positions, half of them are special education teachers". There are two vacancies at both the high school and middle school. Aztec High Principal, Warman Hall, gave the 'At-Risk Student Report', stating, "we're shifting our processes to intervention for kids at-risk for not graduating". "Positive news I can give you is this report is showing...success with intervention", as the percentage of high-risk students have dropped. He credited the 'Attendance Task Force', which meets weekly---and calls are made to families---for the improvement.

'Action Items' began with '2018 Mosaic Academy Charter Renewal', with Principal Diane Miller seeking approval from the board for another five years of operation under the auspices of Aztec Municipal Schools. Miller said there are very few changes to the charter document established thirteen years ago and that they have strived to remain true to it. A governing council reviews their policies and "certain policies" of Aztec Schools are accepted, while others are "waived", Miller stated. The maximum number of students at Mosaic is 180; they are currently full, with a waiting list of about 95. A lottery process for kindergartners and grade levels with lowest number of students is used to for enrollment. The goal is to "maintain a community school atmosphere", she said. They are currently seeking about four acres to build a permanent facility. Answering Ritter's question about their current school grade, Miller said, "To me a 'C' sounds like a 'C', but since it's the highest we've ever been---it's a pretty prideful thing." The Charter was renewed.

The second item, 'Regional Educational Cooperative One Resolution', presented by Carpenter was approved. Aztec Schools Finance Director, Evelyn Garcia---to the issue of the current state of the budget, stated " I'm reconciling all of our grants to make sure they're within budget...are we doing okay---money is tight, yes it is. I do monitor a lot of our purchases; I ask a lot of questions." She stated that few purchases are denied.

The board went into 'Executive Session' following approval of 'Consent Agenda' and adjournment of regular meeting. The next meeting is January 10, 2019 at 6:00 pm.


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