By Linda Kor
Students returned to school in Holbrook Unified School District last week with the theme What You Do Matters.
According to Superintendent Robbie Koerperich, the theme is important for a number of reasons. “We believe that what everyone in the district does this year and every year matters to the success of our students. What students do matters, what parents do matters, what teachers do matters, what everyone does matters to the successes that will be achieved,” he noted.
The district staff started off the year by hearing from inspirational speaker Mike “The Wizzard” McCabe, a former U.S. Navy Admiral, Top Gun instructor and Blue Angel who spoke about his experiences in those fields, as well as his experience as a survivor of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a cancer survivor and president of a commercial airline.
According to Dr. Koerperich, this year the district will continue to focus on three principles, including insight, instruction and interventions. “We believe these three areas are critical to student success. We want to know how our students are doing through the data we collect through formative assessments, getting to know the students and mentoring students to get insight,” he said.
The district is focusing on high quality teaching in the classroom with instruction programs like Teach Like a Champion. “We also want to provide extra support for students that may not be meeting the standards,” said Koerperich.
The district will continue to grow its technology platforms by incorporating more Google Classroom environments. “Our goal is to utilize more technology platforms for learning while ensuring we keep ‘teaching’ as a primary factor for learning. We are working to blend sound teaching practices in coordination with utilizing technology to help our students learn the way they learn best,” he continued.
Koerperich noted that there is wealth of resources and information available to the district through technology, from technology devices and programs to information on the web. “We are working to blend the vast resources into meaningful lessons that will ensure all students are able to learn the state standards in a variety of ways,” he explained.
Another of the district’s goals is to help students close gaps. “Gaps may include academic gaps, social gaps, personal gaps, etc. We want each child to set goals for improvement and take the necessary steps to achieve those goals,” said Koerperich. “We want every child that comes through HUSD to have the opportunity to become who they are capable of becoming. To accomplish this we must help our students set goals for growth. We want all Roadrunners to be ready for any path they choose to take after high school.”
Koerperich said that the district will also expand upon its Healthy Holbrook program to include student ambassadors to promote Healthy Holbrook amongst their peers. They will also continue to focus on writing skills as a prerequisite to college and career readiness, and on parental partnerships to find authentic ways to engage with parents to help their children succeed.
He noted that there are a number of new teachers this year at the various schools throughout the district.
Holbrook High School has four new teachers this year. Stephanie Brosius is teaching English. She is from the Valley and this is her first year teaching. Sam Niver is also teaching English. He is from Oregon and this will be his first year teaching. Nichole Warner is a new government teacher. She is from Show Low and this will be her 13th year teaching. Kamron Reidhead is the new auto shop teacher. He is an HHS graduate who is joining the district from the industry to teach.
Holbrook Junior High School has two new teachers this year. Darbie Thompson will be teaching art. Thompson is originally from Indiana but now lives in Flagstaff. This will be her first year teaching. Kristin Manning is a new science teacher. She is coming to the district after teaching at the Grand Canyon last year, and has 12 years of experience.
Judy Soto is new to Hulet Elementary School and is teaching third grade. She comes to the school with 12 year of experience and was a substitute teacher for the district last year.
Vanessa Morgan is teaching second grade at Park Elementary School this year. She is a first year teacher and is the wife of Zane Morgan, the physical education teacher.
Indian Wells Elementary School has four new teachers this year. Karissa Paddock is teaching the first grade. She recently graduated from Northern Arizona University and student taught at IWES last semester. Sandra Gabaldon is teaching the sixth grade. She has 23 years of experience, and recently got married and moved to Holbrook. Josh McDermott is teaching the fifth grade. He is from the Valley and this is his second year teaching. Veronica Karn is teaching third grade. She is also an NAU graduate and is from the Prescott area.
The district will also be employing long term substitutes to meet its needs. At HHS, Greg Case will be teaching English. At Park School, Delmar Johnson will be teaching physical education and Jerry Goodman will be teaching music.
The district still has a number of positions open, including fifth grade at Hulet School, and kindergarten, first, second and fourth grades at IWES.
According to Koerperich, the district is increasing class sizes due to the shortage of qualified teachers. “We have high quality staff that are doing a wonderful job with increased class sizes. Class sizes are approaching 25 to 30 students at the elementary level, which is not abnormal for typical classrooms throughout the state,” he said. However, he noted that the district has always made small class sizes a priority, and district officials want to maintain that priority. “With the shortage of qualified teachers, we are making adjustments as needed.”