District invites you to envision future classroom

As your new superintendent, I’d like to take an opportunity to share some reflections that will drive my work in Durango.

I came into a school system that has a long history. I’ve heard lots of thoughts and ideas as I’ve engaged in conversations with parents, teachers and community members. There is no shortage of opinions in the community when it comes to what is going well and what improvement may be needed. Hearing all these insights creates a daunting challenge for me, as there is no question that the decisions we make will be supported by some, while others may question our direction. I hope to build an atmosphere of positive dialogue where we can exchange points of view and recognize positive intentions on all sides.

I see my most important role as being an instructional leader, providing leadership and direction about how to transform our system to prepare kids for a very different future – one that we can only imagine. When many of us went to school, we faced many exciting possibilities for our future – however, we faced a more predictable future. Technology was a small presence for us, if any, but it wasn’t yet transforming our lives as significantly as it is today. We had what felt like a fixed body of general knowledge that we learned to apply to whatever career we chose. We memorized important historical facts and focused on passing the test – sometimes never to recall the information again. Today, our kids face a very different classroom environment and a very different job market.

Our greatest task is to teach students how to learn complex information. We must teach our students to be creative and innovative, to think critically and solve problems, to communicate and collaborate, and to use technology to access and evaluate information. With this being the goal of the 21st Century Classroom, the environment within our schools must change. Preparing teachers for this change is of utmost importance. Even some of our best universities are not yet preparing our teachers for this new day in education. In the coming year, the district will support teachers in transforming how they do business and how they structure their classroom to ensure maximum learning and preparation for students.

We invite the community to engage with us in these conversations. Throughout the school year, board members and I will be hosting community forums to share the district’s direction, share further insights on today’s and tomorrow’s classrooms, and seek comments about the overall direction and goals of the district. The next forums are:

Needham Elementary, 6-7:30 p.m., Oct. 16.

Escalante Middle School, 6-7:30 p.m., Oct. 30.

Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary, 6-7:30 p.m., Nov. 7.

Throughout the year, we will host similar meetings at all schools to provide convenient locations for all members of our community to participate and provide feedback.

This is an exciting time in education, and working together as a community, we can ensure that all students are ready to face the unique challenges of the 21st century community, and identify ways that we, and you, can help prepare them.

Daniel Snowberger is the superintendent of the Durango School District. Reach him at enotes@durango.k12.co.us.