School right around the corner in Kingman
Some change expected at KAOL, KUSD
KINGMAN - Though nearly two months of summer remain, summer vacation will be over in less than three weeks for local students.
After beating their favorite video games thrice each, burning to a crisp in the Arizona sun, going on family vacations and balancing boredom with excitement, it's time to get back to the books, essays, tests, lunch lines and lectures that symbolize life for anyone under 18 - school.
At the Kingman Academy of Learning, this year will start as every year has during the school's 16-year existence - with two "Meet the Teacher" nights Aug. 10 and 11.
The Aug. 10 event focuses on the high school and intermediate school while Aug. 11 focuses on primary and middle school.
District Administrator Susan Chan said the events give teachers and principals the opportunity to talk with parents and students about everything from what kids will be taking home daily, including homework, to when snack time is held.
Meet the teacher nights lay the groundwork for the year and get all parties on the same page, Chan said. There's a lot of information to share, she added.
"It helps for smooth running in the classroom," Chan said, "and even alleviates the pressure of the first day of school."
When the school year officially starts on Aug. 15, expect more of the same from KAOL. Teachers and administration continually adapt to new groups of students, looking for strengths and weaknesses while shaping each classroom accordingly, Chan said. By meeting the needs of students, it helps students achieve academically, emotionally and socially, she said.
Some KAOL goals for the upcoming school year: Help all children achieve their own academic excellence, foster good school behavior, work with students and families to promote good attendance habits and continue pushing parent involvement.
KAOL made a few changes over the break as well. At the high school, students may miss former math teacher Stacey Matthews at first, but don't fret, they can find her in administration, as she is the new assistant principal. Districtwide, one teacher retired, two left to teach overseas, two quit because of federal funding cuts and one is staying home to be with her newborn baby, Chan said. Overall, KAOL lost fewer teachers over the summer than it did last year.
"I'm looking forward to a great school year," Chan said. "There's a certain amount of excitement this time of year. I have it, I hope (the students) do too."
Within the Kingman Unified School District, plenty of changes await parents and students, and many of them have to do with K-12 vertical alignment.
District Superintendent Roger Jacks said all the changes focus on the district's primary goal: more successful student growth and student achievement.
First, all teachers will begin creating lesson plans by curriculum mapping based on Arizona standards, common core standards, an Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards blueprint and their own curriculum. This is an organizational tool, which teachers will use to add different aspects to their lesson plans with a click of a mouse, Jacks said.
KUSD schools will continue using Assessment Technology Incorporated's Galileo for its year-round assessments of students, but instead of taking them quarterly, students can expect smaller tests every two weeks, Jacks said. The tests will consist of short standardized assessments that provide immediate feedback in order for teachers to keep their fingers on the student body's pulse, he said.
Another program KUSD is working on deals with the transition of elementary students to middle school, an area where many kids struggle, Jacks said. KUSD is giving 6th-graders a dedicated team of teachers and even their own section of Kingman Middle School. This should greatly ease student transition into middle school, Jacks said.
Among other things, Jacks said he is looking forward to the expansion of the Education 2020 program - which offers online courses for credit or credit recovery - and a reading intervention program known as Read 180.
"Read 180 is a really good program designed to push reading levels up," Jacks said.
The district also wants to start hiring certified librarians, who are also certified teachers, as positions open, which is something KUSD got away from some years back, Jacks said. Along similar lines, the district wants to hire more registered nurses and licensed practical nurses because schools are seeing more students with serious health conditions such as diabetes and asthma. With these health issues comes increased responsibility, and Jacks said he wants to make sure schools have the staff to meet those needs.
Jacks's concerns for the upcoming school year, which starts Aug. 11, focus on the 70 new teachers in the district.
"I want to make sure we do a good job getting them ready to teach in their classrooms," Jacks said.
A teacher mentoring program designed to offer new teachers support and make sure they're comfortable is in place, Jacks said. Taking care of teachers, especially the new ones, is important because retention is a big deal, Jacks said.
"We want them to stay with us," he added.
One of the bigger changes in the district comes from KMS, where John Seward takes over for Jerry Arave as principal. Seward comes from Broome County, NY, where he directed the special education program of the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Arave is now the principal of Hualapai Elementary. Chris Nutt, the previous principal at Hualapai Elementary, is now part of the district's human resources department. Also notable, Tony Victory - KAOL's former athletic director - is now the principal at Mount Tipton School.
KUSD schools start Aug. 11.