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Bob's Blog

August 14: The Year Ahead


Hi All,

I’ll admit, today’s note is a bit lengthy - but at the beginning of the year it’s important to share with you where we are headed, without asking you to spend even more time in meetings.

To begin: I am beyond excited for this year. 

But this is more than the typical it’s-awesome-to-be-back-at-school energy -- this is the energy of something amazing that’s been in our sights and is really coming into focus. Starting five to six years ago, the school set an intentional vision to become an exemplary, multilingual international school in the worldwide community. When that vision was established, we knew there would be paths to be determined, followed, and adjusted. We’ve made incredible progress, and now our vision is within reach. Take a moment every now and then when you’re on campus and notice the subtle differences -- not change for the sake of change, but rather absolute improvement in the days of your children and our teachers and staff.

  • It’s time to get back to who. we. are. As we’ve evolved, we inevitably became everything to everyone. First and foremost, we will maintain our crystal focus on language and culture -- two of the pillars of global citizenship. 
    • This year, we are rolling out Community Principles that encompass our mission, vision, values, and the IB Learner Profile, and distill them into ways that we can talk with everyone in our community -- teachers, students, and parents alike -- about what it means to be an ISDenver Dragon in and out of the classroom. 
      • I will positively contribute to my community.
      • I will be principled and open-minded. 
      • I will respect myself and treat others with dignity. 
  • Outside of the classroom, our learners thrive when the school / home partnership thrives - which also requires consistency. We’re thrilled to be rolling out new policies in support of this partnership, which help us own who we are: 
    • School-wide philosophy on homework, including guidelines and structure for maximum times, per grade
    • Innovative Learning Environment Policy to guide teachers on when and how is best to leverage different curriculum delivery options, including technology
    • Communications from teachers will now include a monthly look-ahead, including notes on upcoming curricular units so you can better engage with your child(ren) and have more advanced notice on events and invitations to campus (at least 4 weeks)
    • Consistent practices, by division, for how we celebrate learning, culture, birthdays, and holidays on campus
      • Thoughtfully respecting parents’ time 
      • Moving annual language program festivals to Thursday @ 6:30 PM
  • We’re taking a fresh look at our schedule and learning spaces. Immersion teaching presents its own scheduling challenges, as does a space-limited campus and doubling growth in recent years. Recent schedules have been based on workarounds, swaps, and fixes that may no longer be relevant. The schedule is a critical tool in support of teaching and learning, and is also how we maximize child safety, space efficiency, and learners’ well being. So we went back to square one, discovered and analyzed the various objectives and influences, and are building a schedule that intentionally fosters best practices now and in the future.
    • Grouping blocks of time so that teachers have larger periods of flexible learning time 
    • Increasing consistency in day-to-day routines for both teachers and learners
    • Providing appropriate and timely break, prep, collaboration, and meal times for faculty
    • Enhancing outdoor spaces for both class- and recess-time
      • Providing structured playspace on Kimak patios for age-appropriate investigations (mud, water, art, etc.) 
      • Ensuring the sports field is available for most of the day
        • Adding structured, teacher-facilitated game options during recess
      • Courtyard and playground mostly reserved for recess
    • Considering the grade-level groupings for recess (K1 & K2 together, K3 separate with access to more of the play structures)
    • As much as possible, younger students will have gym or recess immediately prior to lunch -- research shows it’s best to get the wiggles out so that kids can focus on eating during lunch
    • Offering guided mindfulness sessions during afternoon recess 
  • Our school is full. I had the same question as you when I started: how much bigger are we going to get? The answer? Not Much. We’ve analyzed our number of classrooms, the number of specials spaces (art, music, PE), the acreage of our campus (student density), and determined that our school is basically full. 
  • A new Middle School building will provide the much-needed capacity to ensure our current classes can matriculate through 8th grade and add students where available -- but that’s it. We value our community and appreciate that size is a facet of our success. We’re not looking to become ‘as many students as possible.’ 
  • It’s time to leave our numerous, fractured, and sub-par systems in the past. We hear you and we couldn’t agree more. Our systems are both challenging for our parents to manage and navigate, and equally challenging and inefficient for our faculty and staff to manage their workloads.
    • We are thrilled to be moving forward with a new comprehensive system - Veracross - that sees each community member as a person and then builds necessary functionality around that. So you, and your child(ren) won’t be # in RenWeb and ## in DayCayWorks and ### in Quickbooks and #### in GiveSmart -- you’ll be YOU. Once and for all. That will make us more efficient as an administration and we fully expect that you will be much happier as a parent. 
    • We appreciate  your patience as we methodically roll out the various Veracross modules over the 12 months ahead, starting with online applications this fall followed by online reenrollment in 2020. 
    • Part of our rollout is a strategic approach to training and onboarding all user groups along the way, including our parents.

We are so fortunate to have incredible faculty; a clear mission and vision; and a strategic plan, board, staff, PTO, and community of parents to partner with us. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again: it won’t be perfect, but I can promise you that each year will be better than the previous year. Thanks for walking this path with me, and trusting ISDenver with your children in their formative education years. What we do here is unique and meaningful; the outcomes speak for themselves. 

Here’s to an incredible 2019-20 school year. Go Dragons!


Bob Carignan
Head of School



All Blog Posts

It’s time to get back to who. we. are.  As we’ve evolved, we inevitably became everything to everyone. First and foremost, we will maintain our crystal focus on language and culture -- two of the pillars of global citizenship. 

Community isn’t just about who we are or how we engage with each other - it’s also about shared values. This year, we will be opening up more opportunities through coffees and minglings to answer questions on our vision and the opportunities in our future. These will include both enhancements and additions to our facilities (super exciting) and ensuring that our academics are world class by any measure across four languages and cultures - we will be the best school academically, anywhere, period.

Our students are fluent in an immersion language and are strong researchers, mathematicians, problem solvers, collaborators, and inquirers who leave us ready to thrive in their next steps. That is what we want for our global learners: students who are inter-culturally adept and will make positive contributions in a complex world. That is our mission; that is who we are, and who we will be.

Looking Forward to the Future, Which Means Fond Farewells

As with every year, not everyone will be returning to experience our plans for the future. While we are always sad to say goodbye, we choose to focus on celebrating upcoming adventures and are eagerly looking to the future for all involved. 

Important Updates on Safety and Academics

ISDenver completed an audit earlier this year with the industry leader in school safety. While we received high scores for what we are already doing (noted for being among the most secure campuses), we are also working to improve our safety and are committed to doing so – period.