Jeffco iPD Mini-Grants: Supporting Collaboration in Schools

This week, Jeffco iPD would like to highlight the mini-grant work being done at West Jefferson Middle School. Instructional Coach Mika Melvin originally applied for a mini-grant to support exploration of problem-based learning (PBL) in the math and science departments, with the intent of rolling out PBL school-wide over the next few years. The funding paid for subs, so that teachers could observe other schools where PBL was already being used, and also so that the science and math departments had time to plan collaboratively. 

“Applying for an iPD grant helped provide time and space for richer collaboration in our math and science departments. We knew we wanted to try PBL (problem-based learning) and wanted to implement it well, which meant having time to learn, plan together, and problem-solve," said Melvin. "We used the iPD grant to pay for sub days so that departments could have this time and it has led to changes in instruction that will continue beyond this year.” 

Check out the video below to watch how West Jefferson has put PBL into action and expanded the work to art and music classes with teachers Wil Mitchell and Laura Garrison-Benning.

Dakota Ridge at 20

A table of photos and other artifacts dating back to the very first year of Dakota Ridge High School greeted visitors who attended a 20th anniversary celebration of the school’s founding.
The Dakota Ridge community, past and present, came together to celebrate the high school’s 20th anniversary.

“Dakota Ridge has always been blessed by interested parents. When you have interested parents, you’ve got motivated kids and it makes your job that much easier. But it also makes it more of a relationship that you have with the community,” said Dakota Ridge High School’s first principal, Dr. Ray Smith.

Dakota Ridge High School was built from the ground up by a group of people passionate about the work and dedicated to creating something special. They started from scratch, which was the inspiration for the theme of the school’s inaugural year and represented by an eagle claw scratching through a piece of paper.

“We had a white piece of paper to construct, other than what we had with the architects, the drawings and things like that, but even that was in a state of flux…the areas and how the articulated together…what you wanted when you first walked into the building…and what you wanted people to see and feel and experience,” said Smith.

Current principal, Dr. Jim Jelinek, was excited to have those first members of the Dakota Ridge community return to share their stories.

“Well I’m a big believer in history and paying honor to those that helped pave the pathway for the exemplary community that we have now…and to see how far we’ve come all with that same level of passion and drive, and intentional and deliberate work to try to do what we can to provide the best culture for our students here,” said Jelinek.

Current students were just as excited to learn more about their school’s history and the consistent support of the community throughout the past 20 years.

“I loved hearing about the history and the community. It’s cool because the community was very strong back then and it started with strong roots, and it’s so strong now,” said Dakota Ridge senior Clarisse Eldrige.

“I thought it was really cool being able to understand where everything came from and where they got the ideas for mascots, and how they chose the colors, and how they made all the big decisions,” said Dakota Ridge senior Joe Berg.

The strength of the community at Dakota Ridge, even in the beginning, is part of what makes the school so special.

“You can walk into any school in the United States and see a vision or a mission statement,” said Smith. “But rarely do you find a school where they try to make [that] vision visible.”

See more from the 20th anniversary celebration here.

She Said Yes
Evergreen Middle School teacher Ashley Safford smiles moments after accepting a hallway marriage proposal from fellow teacher Owen Volzke, who involved the entire school in popping the question.
A Jeffco middle school teacher enlisted his entire school to help pull-off a surprise proposal involving the love of his life, who also happens to be a Jeffco middle school teacher.

Evergreen Middle School students lined the hallway, holding flowers, balloons, and bright yellow pieces of paper with a question mark on them. Pennies also covered the floor to represent how it all began two years ago for teachers Ashley Safford and Owen Volzke. Ashley offered to watch the movie “Lincoln” with Owen on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

“I joked afterwards that I’d have to marry you because who else would be willing watch “Lincoln” on Lincoln’s birthday,” said Volzke when Safford finally met him at the end of the hallway. “But deep down I always knew it was you. You make life so incredibly fun. I can’t help but smile when I’m around you.”

Then, he popped the question, and of course she said yes! Her response was followed by raucous cheers from students and fellow teachers, and quite a few tears. The students holding the question marks signs quickly flipped them around so they read “she said yes!”

It took a month of planning and help from students and fellow teachers to figure out the logistics and all the details to make it a perfect proposal. Ashley had a feeling a marriage proposal was on the horizon, but she certainly didn’t expect this.

“It was awesome and I was totally surprised,” she said.

Watch the JPS-TV version of this story here.

The Academy at Warren Tech
The Warren Tech Founders Room buzzed with awards night energy as the school announced the winners of its first ever $10,000 kickstarter fund through the school’s newly inaugurated program The Academy.
Warren Tech has a new program called The Academy, which consists of second-year students from various Warren Tech programs including STEM, Graphic Design, Computer Science/Cyber Security, TV/Video, and Game/App Development.

The Academy provides students with the opportunity to work in a collaborative environment that promotes critical thinking through real world experiences. This program also promotes partnerships with industry experts and local businesses to expand students’ opportunities while in high school, along with helping students to create a more informed decision about their pathways after graduation.

The Academy students were given the opportunity to come up with a dream project and access to a $10,000 kick-starter fund. They then pitched their ideas to a funding board in a "shark tank" format. Warren Tech Principal Joe Show teamed up with The Academy instructor Heather Mueller to announce the winners.

Congratulations to:
Here: Hannah Sellers, Makennen Stitt, Patrick Persichetti, and MaryAnn Friederich
Website Redesign: Alyssa Ashurst, Jennifer Guelich, Victoria Rudy, and Joe Salazar
3D Printed Gimbals: Jacob Fillmore, Austin Packer, and Brenden Tackett

Subscribe to JPS-TV!

Hats Off
Dutch Creek Elementary 
second graders designed and implemented a service project that raised over $1,000 for The Children’s Hospital and The Miracle Network. The funds were presented to Alice 105.9 during their 36 Hours for Kids Telethon, which featured student Emily Wells' story. Way to go second graders!
The student council at Arvada West High School hosted a blood drive for Bonfils last month, reaching a milestone of 30 years of generous donations! Here's a little history of blood drives for Arvada West:
            • First Blood Drive was on 4/18/1986 
            • Units of blood collected since then have been 2,036 
            • Number of live saved – 6,108 (each unit of blood saves 3 lives) 
            • Number of blood drives from 4/18/1996 to present have been 33
Pomona High School
's B.I.O.N.I.C. (Believe It Or Not I Care) Team has been doing great work to help fellow students, families, staff, and community members through challenging times. They have sent posters around the world to communities that have experienced tragedy. Most recently, team members made over 70 blankets for the Sunrise Senior Living Center. Several of the center's residents received their blankets when they visited Pomona last week, and they took back the rest of the blankets to their fellow residents. The center reported that some residents were moved to tears as they received their blankets from the students, and couldn't believe it was a gift. Great work, Panthers!
Weber Elementary students raised over $2,000 for Jump Rope for Heart, surpassing their goal of $1,500. Check out this great video Weber made to document all their work for Jump Rope for Heart this year.

Jeffco In the News

High Timber Times, CAE exhibit lets area’s teen artists show their stuff, February 16, 2016
Canyon Courier, A heartfelt proposal: EMS teacher uses Lincoln’s birthday as catalyst to pop question, February 16, 2016
Columbine Courier, ‘Young Frankenstein’ set to haunt D’Evelyn High stage, February 16, 2016
YourHub, Golden Backpack Program delivers 100,000 sacks of food to Golden students in need, February 12, 2016
Lakewood Sentinel, Green Mountain roots for the Broncos, February 11, 2016
Lakewood Sentinel, Green Mountain HS ag program reveals possibilities, February 11, 2016
The Denver Post, New Montessori school in east Lakewood draws regional interest, February 11, 2016
The Denver Post, Longer days boost Pennington Elementary school in Wheat Ridge, February 11, 2016
High Timber Times, ‘Science is awesome’, February 10, 2016, Green Mountain hires Kelly King as softball coach, February 17, 2016
The Denver Post, Arvada West 7-footer Dallas Walton commits to Colorado men's basketball, February 16, 2016
Columbine Courier, Chargers break out the confetti, February 16, 2016
Columbine Courier, Manzanares off to state tourney, February 16, 2016
Canyon Courier, Cougars building postseason resume, February 16, 2016
Canyon Courier, Clark continues to take swings, February 16, 2016
High Timber Times, Studer saves season for Lobos, February 16, 2016
High Timber Times, Quick Hits, February 16, 2016
Canyon Courier, Quick Hits, February 16, 2016
Columbine Courier, Quick Hits, February 16, 2016
Littleton Independent, Lakewood girls tough to defend, February 10, 2016

February 18, 2016

In This Issue:

  • Jeffco iPD Mini-Grants: Supporting Collaboration in Schools
  • Dakota Ridge at 20
  • She Said Yes
  • The Academy at Warren Tech
  • Hats Off
  • Jeffco in the News
  • EAP Tip
  • Messenger Weekly Archives

Jeffco iPD Project
iPD advances teacher voice, choice, and leadership through personalized professional learning.

“I teach...therefore iPD”

Get Involved:
Strategy of the Week:
Upcoming Events from iPD:
  • Science HS Networking Fair
    Feb. 23 at Golden HS, ESS Code: DIPDAP 0001
    Feb. 24 at Columbine HS, ESS Code: DIPDAP 0002
Teacher Feature:
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Give Your Two Cents on Jeffco Public Schools Budget Now though February 21

We want to hear from you! Community input is an essential component of the budget development process. The budget tool provides an opportunity for you to weigh in and let the Board of Education know what you think about budget priorities. 

Please complete the online interactive budget tool here:

Dual Language Job Fair

An all-in-one day event, with the opportunity to meet school staff, apply to positions, take a language proficiency test, and interview.

When: Saturday, February 20, 9:00
            a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Where: Ed Center, 1829 Denver West
              Drive, #27, Golden, 80401

Please click here for more information.

Evergreen Middle School Career Fair 2016

When: Wednesday, February 24, 8:00
            a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Where: Evergreen Middle School
              2059 S Hiwan Drive
              Evergreen, 80439

Career presenters host a table, while eighth grade students visit and learn about your career. 

For more information, please click here.

Please contact Scott Major or Kim Cobb if you would like to participate.

Interview Skills Training with EAP

When: Thursday, March 3, 4:30-6:30

Where: Jeffco Ed Center, Room 4E

Topics include question preparation, panel perceptions of candidates, visualization techniques, and anxiety-reduction skills for improving performance. Please register here.

The Hottest Habanero Husstle (HIII) Obstacle Course Race

When: Saturday, April 16, 8:00 a.m. -
            4:00 p.m.

Where: Jeffco Open School, 7655 W.
             10th Ave., Lakewood, 80214

The HIII is the first-ever obstacle course fundraiser specifically designed for children on school grounds.

  • Up to 30 obstacles
  • Distances from 0.25-miles to 3 miles
  • Competitive and open waves
  • Mental and physical challenges
  • Open to all kindergarten through twelfth graders!
For more information and to register, please visit: 

Jeffco Schools Community Nights

Jeffco Schools Foundation partners with your favorite Denver-area sports teams to offer discounted tickets to Jeffco staff, students, families, and friends.

A portion of ticket sales supports Jeffco Schools Foundation in helping our students thrive.

Discounted tickets are only available at:

Upcoming Community Nights:

Denver Nuggets vs. Washington Wizards: Saturday, March 12, Time TBA (tickets coming soon)

Ed Center ID Badge Picture Day Schedule

ID badge pictures are available to employees who are not able to have their pictures taken at their school or department's regularly-scheduled picture day, and need to have a current Jeffco ID badge. The ID pictures will be taken at the Ed Center on the Second Floor Mezzanine.

Monday, February 22, 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Please make certain employees bring a completed Employee ID Badge Form with the following:

  • Complete accounting string
  • Supervisor's signature
  • Picture ID, such as a driver's license or last year's ID badge
  • Jeffco employee ID number
  • The Employee ID Badge form is available here 

Board of Education Meetings

- Thursday, February 18, 5:30 p.m., Board of Education Special Meeting, Board Room, 5th fl., Education Center.

Please note: Jefferson County residents can sign up for public comment online. The online registration will now be available the Monday before a regularly scheduled Thursday business meeting by accessing the meeting agenda through the Board of Education web page. For those without computer access, visit the Education Services Center, 1829 Denver West Dr., Golden to register for public comment. All public comment registration closes at 3:30 p.m. on the day of the board meeting. 

 Mental Health Tip - Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

Most of us have experienced difficult people at times. We sometimes experience difficult people at work. They come in every variety. Some talk too much and never listen. Others fail to complete what they say they will. Some are critical and angry. Some difficult people are parents, our own teenagers, our boss, our neighbors, or the sales person at the store. People who don’t behave as we expect them too can seem difficult.  

Over the years, the EAP has facilitated many workshops on dealing with difficult people. As part of the training, participants brainstormed what they already know about what works and what doesn’t work when dealing with difficult people. Below is a summary of tips from your peers, the Jeffco experts:

What Works:

  • Listen
  • Acknowledge and clarify issues and concerns 
  • Acknowledge people at your desk, even if you’re on the phone 
  • Maintain a positive approach; look for solutions
  • Be honest and respectful 
  • Agree if possible
  • Keep an open mind

For more tips, please click here.

What the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Can Do 

If you would like further information, or to speak with an EAP counselor, contact EAP at 303-982-0377 or visit the EAP website. EAP offers no-cost assistance, confidential assistance to all Jeffco Public Schools employees, their family members over age 15, and retirees. Confidential help from caring professionals. 

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