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Going for the Gold!

August 11, 2016
Dear CSS Community,
Going for the Gold! As my family and I are watching and enjoying the Olympics I am thinking about connections to CSS. As I am watching world class athletes like Katie Ledecky swim for gold and Mara Abbott ride an inspiring performance in the women’s road cycling race, I’m struck by the parallels between athletics and education. Both endeavors prioritize effort, growth, and mentorship. Just like students and educators, the best athletes and coaches know that:
  • In any endeavor, you get out of it what you put into it
  • Attitude is everything
  • Win or lose: bravery and personal excellence are the real goals
While our students aren’t competing in the Olympics, these are some real lessons for our young athletes and students to consider as they embark on another year of learning at CSS.
As I have watched Olympic events, I have also been inspired by the programs and coaches and their commitment to helping people move toward their goals. At our opening faculty meeting this week, I spoke to the CSS faculty and staff about the concept of marginal gains, emphasized by the legendary Sir David Brailsford. Brailsford, the architect of three Tour de France victories and countless gold medals for Team Sky and for Great Britain, exemplifies a commitment to growth and improvement. Even though we did not dive deeply into Brailsford’s work, my talk resonated with the faculty because The Colorado Springs School is similarly committed to seeking excellence and to maximizing both our potential as a school and the potential of our students.
Speaking of proud podium moments, this summer we were voted Best Private School in the region by the Colorado Springs Business Journal and its readers. This recognition means a lot to us. Our school is defined by rigorous academics, relevant coursework, and the opportunities we create for teachers, coaches, advisors and students to forge authentic relationships. We are proud of our fine school, and as we welcome new families and welcome back our returning families, I would like to highlight some of our ongoing initiatives and differentiators.
Google Classroom
After a successful trial period last spring semester, CSS is proud to implement Google Classroom as the online learning management system in Middle and Upper School beginning this fall (RenWeb will remain the school’s gradebook and student information system). Some details as to why we are taking on this transition:
  • Google classroom integrates seamlessly with the Google Apps for Education platform (email, storage drive, calendars, etc.) that we have been using with students for the past seven years. This robust suite of tools will train students to navigate emerging technological systems they will undoubtedly face in college and future work.
  • Renweb will remain the school’s online student information and gradebook system, as Google classroom does not currently possess these features.
  • Assignments will be posted on Google Classroom, and in Google Classroom only, in order to facilitate “one-stop shopping” for students and teachers sharing information.
  • Unlike Renweb, Google Classroom does not allow for parent identities or log-ins, therefore the ideal way for you to access your student’s Google Classroom, if you should choose to do so, is to log in with their password. You will hear more from Division Leads about the integration of this new tool.
Social and Emotional Learning
The research is clear: schools with clear programs and goals about social emotional learning experience fewer disciplinary incidents and students earn higher grades. Last year we pioneered the Yale University’s RULER program, a PreK to12th grade curriculum that emphasizes social and emotional learning and regulation. This program has been a success and guides the way we talk about the “soft skills at CSS, including emotions and conflict resolution. Division Lead teachers and classroom teachers will address this topic during our Parent Nights and Academics in the Spotlight evening. RULER will be the topic of focus for our Parent Coffee Connection in November.
Tech integration to enhance collaboration and student learning
As a result of a curriculum advancement grant, which supports teacher work over the summer, The Colorado Springs School will begin its implementation of a new K-12 computer science curriculum during the 2016-2017 school year. Led by Andrew Julian, MS and US Technology Integrator, Blisse Beardsley US and MS Math, and Bette Anterra, Media Integration Specialist, this cutting edge program will deliver both background theory and practical skills in logic, coding, and software design to students from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The curricula will culminate in a new introduction to Computer Science class in the Upper School and the AP course Introduction to Computer Science in 2017-2018.
Relevant learning
We are now in the third year of The Colorado Springs School’s Digital Portfolio program. Portfolio programs that emphasize student work and reflection are taking traction in many independent schools across the nation. Several selective institutions of higher learning are also using portfolios in the college application process. The early adoption of this best practice benefits our students greatly.
CSS, the only PreK -12th grade independent school in the region, is accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools. And we are a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. These organizations provide guidelines of best practices and professional development to the school. As part of our ACIS membership process, this fall we will be creating a self study that delineates our recent programmatic and academic accomplishments goals and metrics of success.
Parent Coffee Connections: Topics for the year
As a community we will continue to discuss our ongoing initiatives and program differentiators through our speaker series entitled Parent Coffee Connections. Additionally, we will share out screencasts of these presentations and host a library of past topics on the website. I encourage and welcome conversations about these important educational values at upcoming events, receptions, parent meetings and conferences throughout the year. I invite all of you to consider reading Path to Purpose as part of an all-campus read and join us in October to discuss this book.

State of the School Presentation
Following the Parents Association Welcome Coffee on Friday, August 26, 2016, I will present the State of the School presentation and hope you will come to learn more about how we deliver our mission in the 2016-2017 year.

All the best,

Aaron Schubach
The Colorado Springs School
Head of School

Going for the Gold!