Poudre School District | KUNC

Poudre School District

Gov. Jared Polis closed all preschool through grade 12 schools until April 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As school districts return from spring break, students and teachers are moving to an online learning format.

KUNC's Stephanie Daniel recently spoke to Madeline Noblett, executive director of communications at Poudre School District in Larimer County, to learn more about the district's transition to remote learning.

Poudre School District

On a good day, it takes fourth-grade teacher Montserrat Granados about 35 minutes to commute between her home in Ault to Irish Elementary School in Fort Collins. On a bad one, she's stuck in her car for 50 minutes.

"I wish it was something I didn't have to deal with," Granados said. "But I love Poudre School District."

When Granados was hired by the district a couple years ago, she didn't make enough money to purchase property in Fort Collins or nearby Laporte or Wellington. She ended buying a home in Ault, about 20 miles east, instead.

Granados' situation isn't unique: the starting salary for Poudre School District teachers is the lowest in the region. But that could change next year.

Sarah Weeks

In June KUNC posed a Curious Colorado question to listeners: "Are you a teacher - or do you know one - who has to get a summer job to make ends meet? Share your plans with us."

Sarah Weeks, a K-5 media specialist and STEM teacher at Lopez Elementary School in Fort Collins, responded, saying she loves her job but can't live off her teaching salary alone.

Her summer break essay follows:

Maya Angelou said, "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

I'm discovering that this quote captures the essence of my philosophy of life and my career as a professional educator.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

The theory behind the modern band movement is pretty simple: Teach kids the music they like and they will like -- and learn -- the music you teach.

This summer, almost 400 music educators from around the country traveled to Fort Collins to find out more about the concept and the organization spearheading it.

Little Kids Rock is a nonprofit that provides training and instruments to teachers so that they can offer music classes that are relevant to them, said the program’s CEO and founder David Wish during a break at the Modern Band Rock Fest conference.

“Modern band is a student-centered, student empowering form of music education that puts children in the driver’s seat of their own learning,” Wish said.

Jackie Fortier / KUNC

After four years of climbing, Colorado’s on-time graduation rate plateaued in 2015 at 77.3 percent. Education officials don’t have a specific cause for the flatlining rate, but there is significant evidence that shows having a mentor, or a caring adult in a school setting, significantly increases the likelihood children will be more engaged and graduate on time.

Mentoring usually refers to a one-on-one, supportive relationship between a student and an adult. It’s been linked to an improved connection to school, lower dropout indicators and higher achievement according to a 2014 report [.pdf] by the National Dropout Prevention Center.

Jonathan Payne

Thousands of students in Northern Colorado are failing to meet academic standards. Colorado Department of Education released district and school specific PARCC test results for the 2014/2015 school year, show a huge disparity between participation rates and performance. Aligned to the Common Core learning standards, the test is considered harder than the old bubble tests it replaced.

PARCC is administered to students in grades 3-11, measuring math and English language arts. These are the first district specific scores of a test that is supposed to measure analytical thinking, rather than memorization, to better prepare students for college or the workforce.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

When you think of school musicals, classics like Oklahoma and The Music Man may come to mind. Now, though, high schools are going beyond the same old song and dance to more contemporary - and sometimes a little risqué – shows.

Take Poudre High School's upcoming fall musical. The Fort Collins school is performing Avenue Q. In the Broadway version, the show's puppets swear, drink and have sex. This, however, is Avenue Q School Edition.

"High school kids, in particular, loved this show and they loved that it was naughty and had bad language in it," Poudre theater director Joel Smith said. "But beyond that they loved that it was talking about things high school students could relate to."

U.S. Department of Education

Three Colorado schools have been recognized for their environmental stewardship as part of the first U-S Department of Education’s list of Green Ribbon Schools. In the Poudre School District, Wellington Middle School was among 78 schools awarded in 29 states nationally.

From Washington state to Florida to Colorado, more schools are being built with sustainability in mind. These environmentally friendly buildings take into account everything from natural lighting to water conservation—even the landscaping outside. But how does changing the physical environment impact the learning environment?