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Commissioner's School Visits

Weld RE-8, Weld RE-1, Weld RE-5J, Eaton RE-2 and Platte Valley RE-7

April 30, 2010

District Superintendent Mark Payler welcomed me to the Weld RE-8 School District administrative offices by whispering in my ear, "Today we'll show you how we are different from any other district you'll see today."

Indeed, the district made quite an impact. The morning started with a welcome from the drumline. What an invigorating way to begin the day! Fifty-one percent of drumline members never played an instrument before joining.

Next I heard from a lineup of board, staff and administers. Each shared department area highlights. John Hoag, assistant superintendent of operations and human resources talked about the completion of a teacher evaluation process review and revision in 2009. Mindi Wolf, food service coordinator shared her tips for going green in the lunchroom. The district uses washable trays, paper dishes, paper milk cartons and makes lunches from scratch. Shela Blankenship, director of early childhood learning

talked about how outstanding staff, parent involvement and vertical articulations make the preschool program one of a kind. The district is also expanding opportunities for advanced placement students.

Gayle Dunlap, principal at Twombly Elementary said staff encourages each student to work to their full potential in order to meet high expectations and exceed their academic goals.

My visit with Weld RE-1 School District in Gilcrest ended up being a lesson in technology.

I met with Superintendent Jo Barbie, Director of Technology Keith Ouweneel, Director of Learning Services Scott Spearnak and Valley High School Principal Bob Harr. The district is implementing a laptop program which allows each student to check out laptops for daily use. iPods are also available for check out in the library. Ouweneel walked me through a quick podcast demonstration and showed me a recent student project in which students created their own 21st century classrooms. After the demonstration, I created my own podcast. You can watch it at

At Weld RE-1, Mrs. Layton's social studies class studied world gross domestic products.

My next visit to Weld RE-5J School District in Milliken brought me to the table with principals, board members, directors and assistants along with Superintendent Marty Foster. The group had questions about the assessment revision and Senate Bill 10-191.

Marty Foster (right) and the group said while they have had to make major cuts to their budget, they are optimistic about school funding and the economy.

At Eaton RE-2 School District, I visited with Superintendent Randy Miller and School Board President Don Cadwallader. This district of 1,700 students has the full support of the local school board and a strong reputation in both academics and extra curricular activities.

Platte Valley RE-7 School District Superintendent Glenn McClain provided me with a brief overview of the district before taking me to see the elementary, middle and high schools.

The school prepared for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Stock Show on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 & 2.

Additional preparations take place for the stock show. Students set up for the plant sale and load animals into the pens.

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