One School + Two Buildings = Amazing Results!

Article by Amy Cotsworth

 

In a world where inclusivity and acceptance is unfortunately becoming less commonplace, it is refreshing to see an environment based entirely on those precepts and qualities. When that environment happens to be a school, it has the promise and potential to change our future for the better through our best hope and resource – our children.

Roxborough Primary and Intermediate Schools, located in the heart of the Roxborough community, are blazing trails in insightful, cohesive, and caring education.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Roxborough Primary and Intermediate School Facebook Page

First, a little bit of the school’s history. In 1993, the original building for Roxborough Elementary housed approximately 900 students—in a building intended to serve only about 450 children—using outbuildings and mobile classrooms to alleviate the overload of attendance. With the bond approval in 2006, another building was constructed in 2008. This became the current Roxborough Intermediate School, which now has a student count of approximately 400, with the Roxborough Primary School at a population of around 350 students.

The original elementary school rapidly established itself as the hub of the Roxborough community, holding meetings and events that were regularly attended by area residents. Not wanting to split up the sense of community the school provided, the administrative and educational staff sought a way to support and sustain the cohesiveness and connection that had already taken hold.

Principals Rick Kendall and Meghan Ofer took the opportunity to put into action the concept of a “One School, Two Buildings” motto and make it a seamless reality. Principal Kendall has been an integral part of the Roxborough schools for nearly 20 years, with more than 10 years as principal, and Meghan Ofer has overseen Roxborough Intermediate School for the past five years. Together, they have perpetuated the feeling of connection and kinship among students and community members through a welcoming environment of acceptance within their common and familiar buildings.

Today, the original elementary building now comfortably contains preschool through second grade classes, while the newer Intermediate School building is home to third through sixth grades.

The transition for these students from one building to the next within the same school culture has also become smoother due to the efforts of Kendall and Ofer.

Providing field trips for the future third graders to see the Intermediate School campus and meet the upper-class students—some of whom become mentors to the incoming grade—is just one way the process is facilitated and eased. Sixth graders take on leadership roles as ambassadors to incoming students and mentors, as well as other available leadership opportunities. This helps them greatly in adapting as they move to the next stage of their schooling – progressing to Ranch View Middle School, and then often on to Thunder Ridge High School, all within the Douglas County School District.

The differentiation from second to third grade is largely characterized by a shift from “learning to read” and “reading to learn.” This makes the transition between the two buildings a natural progression, aided by the fact that the schools are International Baccalaureate-authorized facilities, so the approach, expectations, and program structure remains constant.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program focuses on action and balanced thinking. It provides the students with an all-encompassing perspective of the world they live in and how we are all connected, and it gives them a path by which to learn how knowledge plus application equals impact. The IB program also teaches students to think independently and critically, and to inquire with logic and care. The Roxborough school integrated systems assimilate this style of study and observation into their daily curriculum and culture. Roxborough attendees have already completed impactful IB projects such as creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat Trail within the Intermediate campus by partnering with the National Audubon Society and local wildlife agencies. They are also currently working on a Kindness Campaign Fundraiser in conjunction with Raise Craze that will not be based on sales. The campaign, launching on September 13, is focused solely on acts of kindness.

With a pervasive environment of inclusion already established within the Roxborough schools, it is further encouraging—particularly with the addition of the new dynamic of the Sterling Ranch community influx—that the principals have never heard any of the students differentiate themselves based on their specific neighborhood or subdivision. As Sterling Ranch becomes a community of people and families—as opposed to a proposed community development—the school system’s encompassing goal of creating good people, academically, socially, and emotionally on the continual basis of trust, results in new attendees being welcomed accordingly.

Having seen a decrease of enrollment due to families moving to other cities and states, largely for greater affordability of living, the introduction of the Sterling Ranch community is a new and vibrant addition to the school demographic.

Principals Rick Kendall & Meghan Ofer

Emphasizing a theme of “work hard, get smart, and be nice,” a harmonious continuum through any change is essentially assured at both schools. Focusing on “equity versus equality,” all of the children’s perspectives are broadened to see peers as equals to be accepted and appreciated.

Empathy is taught within these walls. It is seen as the best defense against bullying, which is successfully overcome through this approach. The belief that “children do well if they can,” leads the teachers and staff to recognize that if students are experiencing challenges, socially or academically, they may be facing a difficulty with either overcoming obstacles that require skills they do not yet possess or a problem they cannot solve without assistance. This is where the devoted educators and administration, who truly love what they do, come in and help the children navigate obstacles and make appropriate and well-considered choices as the students progress through the growth and learning that comes with early education.

Parents also benefit from the programs offered by the schools, including a Parent Academy in association with Y.E.S.S. (Youth Education and Safety in Schools) through the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, and an amazing Parent Teacher Involvement Committee (PTIC).

Add to this already impressive equation, a staff of dedicated teachers, minimal to no turnover of staff overall, and a sensible, relevant, and practical application of courses and curriculum focused on making these young learners college and/or career ready. The revolutionary and intuitive nature of the Roxborough Primary and Intermediate School campuses is proving not only effective but also inspiring for the present and future of public education; it is a true gem in the Douglas County School District as well as in our Roxborough community.

Visit rxpi.dcsdk12.org to find out how you can support and become involved with the efforts of our own Roxborough Rattlers. 

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