News from Sheridan School
District No. 2
Contact: Mark Stevens
303-495-8699 (mobile) • 720-328-5488 (office)
May 16, 2019
SOAR Academy Highlights Improved Culture,
SOAR Academy principal Todd Legge took time at this week’s
Sheridan Board of Education meeting (Tuesday, May 14) to recognize progress at
the alternative high school, while also noting challenges.
Legge’s presentation began with a spotlight on Jeremiah Tucson,
who will be one of 17 students graduating on Wednesday, May 22.
“I have never seen a transformation that was so thorough and so
honest and so universally hoped for by every adult who knew him,” said Legge.
“This kid is SOAR all the way. (At first) you could see he was battling inside
himself. Before we knew it, we’re here and he’s going to graduate next week.”
The staff at SOAR Academy, said Legge, need a “certain level of
flexibility” to work at SOAR. He also recognized Joe Ladow, the school’s Expelled
and At-Risk Student Services coordinator, and building manager Steve Merchant
for their “humble, hard-working,” support.
“Both of these gentleman,” said Legge, “are two of the best I’ve
SOAR Academy focused this year on improving its culture and
engagement. “Engagement is a huge monster in the alternative setting,”
said Legge, beginning with attendance rates and commitment to the school.
SOAR Academy currently serves 97 students with a daily attendance
rate of 86 percent. Legge noted that while some students showed growth in
mathematics and reading this year that far too many are more than two years
behind grade level. He called that “unacceptable.”
The school next year will focus on successful implementation of
its new systems, improved programming during and outside of schools, monthly
college visits for all students, building the connection to post-secondary
options for all students, and improving instructional practices.
Superintendent Pat Sandos lauded Legge for his “heart and
passion.” And board member Sally Daigle said she was pleased the board
supported the creation of SOAR Academy in the face of cautions from the
Colorado Department of Education that warned an alternative high school would
hurt the district’s overall test scores and accreditation rank.
“We decided we didn’t care,” said Daigle. “Every child has a right
to succeed and it’s our job as a board to make sure that happens.”
District Accountability Advisory Committee
Adrian Vigil, the teacher representative on the District
Accountability Advisory Committee, reviewed the committee’s work this year on
two goals—creating a welcoming environment in all schools and addressing
bullies and bullying. Vigil said he has served on DAAC for 18 years and
that this year’s work was the most meaningful to date.
DAAC will return early in the 2019-2020 school year to update its
goals. Board member Karl Najera said she appreciates the work of DAAC, which
includes community members, parents, and district staff. “This is a group whose
voice I want to hear more from,” she said.
Director of Assessment Maegan Daigler and Christine Muldoon, Director of Language, Culture & Equity,
presented data from ACCESS, the tests given to English language learners in
Kindergarten through 12th grade in Colorado.
Results from the tests are used
to ensure students are in the right classes and that teachers have the right
instructional supports based on the language needs of English Learners.
ACCESS measures students’
capability in English in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This year,
327 Sheridan students took ACCESS tests. Daigler noted a slight increase in
“Level 2” (emerging) students. (The scale runs from 1, “entering,” to 6,
The data also revealed that 43
percent of students in grades 6-8 and 35 percent of students in grades 9-12 are
considered “long-term” English language learners, which means they are taking
longer than expected to make the transition to full proficiency.
Daigler and Muldoon noted a
series of district-wide strategies to improve cultural competency among all
staff, to improve progress monitoring of students, and to encourage more
students to pursue a Seal of Biliteracy on their high school diploma.
Supporting students who want to
pursue that seal, which sets a high bar for maintaining proficiency in two
languages, will require supports beginning in middle and elementary schools,
said Muldoon, and that may in turn help improve the district’s overall support
for all English language learners.
introduced German Echevarria, who will serve as a co-principal next year at
Sheridan High School alongside the current principal, Eileen Doolan.
Originally from Puerto Rico,
Echevarria has worked in Denver Public Schools for 20 years. “Traditional
comprehensive high schools should be a beacon,” said Echevarria, adding that he
seeks to create bridges with all students and families in the Sheridan
Superintendent Sandos read a
letter from the Colorado Department of Education notifying the district of “no
findings” following a recent audit. “That’s a good thing,” said Superintendent
Sandos. The letter thanked the district’s finance office staff for its
cooperation in the audit process.
All consent agenda items were approved.
About Sheridan School District 2
Located southwest of Denver, Sheridan School District 2 seeks
high-level post-secondary options for all students through continuous
improvement of quality instruction. More: www.ssd2.org