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WSD3 thriving through challenging times

 

Last updated 8/9/2022 at 12:58pm | View PDF

Editor's Note: We asked Widefield School District 3 Superintendent Kevin Duren to share his thoughts on various topics as the school year gets under way. WSD3 students return the week of Aug. 15.

Q: Discuss the level of "normalcy" now compared to the last two years.

A: Last year at this time, we were just beginning to emerge from a year of shutdowns, quarantines, virtual learning, hybrid teaching, etc. There was lots of uncertainty and speculation on what the year would be like. The path forward was muddled with unresolved questions. We were hopeful, but uncertain how students would respond, how the pandemic would further impact us and what disruptions lay ahead.

Now that we have experienced a year of the impact of COVID and successfully (albeit painstakingly) completing the school year, there appears to be a brighter path forward. We now know the social-emotional impact on students, the impact on learning loss and the priorities that teachers, principals, and school districts must face to continue to keep moving forward. The perception of this year is casted in experience, data and knowledge. We know now that the activities and events that promote community, school spirit, and overall wellness can occur as close to "normal" as possible. We look forward to athletic events, open houses, music productions, academic competitions, parades, and other events that allow us to engage our community. We also look forward to meeting face to face with students and truly engaging each individual student with what they need to be successful.

Although there could be lingering disruptions in our future, it appears that our trajectory looks more normal and our focus on social emotional health, building relationships, and establishing a revitalized community will help us travel the road to complete recovery a little further.

Q: Provide updates on facilities, campus growth, growth in student population, etc.

A: Although we see evidence of substantial growth in home builds in our area, we have yet to see the net growth of students in our schools. We are poised and prepared to discuss with our community the growth of our district as it relates to the growth in our community. This year will be a turning point in enrollment that will inform the need to either respond with adding additional schools or reorganizing our current resources to adjust for growth.

WSD3 is aggressively seeking industry partners to build programs and pathways for real-world career opportunities. Our district growth includes adding substantial industries and businesses in our boundary. In addition to bordering three major military installations and a large airport, WSD3 has the ability to highlight, model, and provide innovative, creative and ground-breaking opportunities in our district. We are expanding our curriculum to find connections and pathways that allow students to work towards a future that includes skills that are applicable now and ready for the unforeseen growth of the future. This includes career and technical education, engineering, robotics, computer science, aviation, advanced manufacturing, and so much more.

Q. Tell us about virtual school, and how that has changed over the last two years.

A: Previous to the pandemic, WSD3 started a limited online program, D3 My Way, with less than 100 students to meet the needs of students who desired a full or partial education within an online format. During the pandemic, this educational option expanded to over 1,700 students in grades K-12. Since the pandemic, this program has evolved into an official school with over 400 students enrolled. The pandemic moved D3 My Way from an internal program to a K-12 virtual school site that mixes online and in-person experiences to engage WSD3 students to complete their education in an alternative setting.

Q: Lastly, job openings: are there shortages of teachers and other staff?

A: Our human resources department has been working extremely hard to fill positions for the 2022-2023 school year. Some of our hiring efforts included hosting our first District job fair, attending in-person and virtual job fairs across the country, increasing digital marketing and advertising, and hiring student teachers through our partnership with UCCS.

We have done a great job filling almost all of our licensed positions. Our greatest hiring need continues to be bus drivers and bus monitors. We are also hiring support staff for our nutrition services and facilities departments, as well as educational assistants and substitute teachers. We accept applications and hire for all positions throughout the year and encourage anyone looking to start a career in Widefield School District 3 to give us a call at 79-391-3015 or go online to wsd3.org.

 

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