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The Spark - October 2023
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- A message to you from Education Commissioner from Susana Córdova
- Temporary Educator Loan Forgiveness Program Deadline Extended
- More Teachers Receive Classroom Supplies from Governor’s Assistance
- Seven Teachers in Running for 2024 Colorado Teacher of the Year
I hope you are all enjoying the lovely fall we’re having. October can be so gorgeous in this beautiful state, but I also remember it being a time that could be stressful for classroom teachers.
By the time October rolls around, the initial excitement of the school year has settled in, and both teachers and students have their heads down, focusing on the hard work that lies ahead. The challenges ahead may feel overwhelming, and it can make this time of year a little stressful.
I want you to know that I understand the demands you face daily, and I appreciate your commitment to our students' education. I want to take a moment to offer you ideas for finding inspiration and support during this busy month.
First, I encourage you to reflect on why you chose the profession of teaching. Remember the sense of purpose that fueled your passion when you embarked on this journey. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges, but reconnecting with your initial motivation can be a powerful source of inspiration. I still do this, and I’ll admit there are times when my personal mission became the mantra that helped me get through the day.
Here are a few more reminders to help you find inspiration and joy in your day-to-day work:
- Celebrate Small Wins: Take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the small victories in your classroom or with your colleagues. Whether it's a student grasping a difficult concept, a successful classroom activity, or simply a peaceful and productive day, these moments remind us of the impact we have on children.
- Connect and collaborate: Seek out colleagues, either within your school or your district, who share your sense of purpose. If you can't find them, look for networks on LinkedIn or Facebook that share your purpose and are committed to excellent instruction. If you want to expand your network, associations like the Colorado Association of Science Teachers, Colorado Council for Math Teachers, Colorado Language Arts Society, Computer Science Teachers Association and others can be a great place to connect. Sharing experiences, ideas, and best practices can reinvigorate your passion for teaching and provide fresh perspectives.
- Professional Development: Explore opportunities for professional growth and development. Learning new teaching methods, attending workshops or pursuing advanced degrees can reignite your enthusiasm for education.
- Take Time for Joy: Make time outside of the school day to do the things that bring you joy and inspiration.
- Reach out if you need help: if you are struggling with feelings of depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The Educator Support Program at the University of Colorado is an excellent resource for teachers. All services are provided via telehealth, so there is no need to be in the metro area.
I am deeply grateful for your dedication to your students, and I know that being a classroom teacher is one of the hardest jobs. Always remember that your work as educators has a lasting impact on the lives of students and the future of our society.
As October unfolds, let’s find joy in the journey and rediscover the sense of purpose that led us to this profession. Together, we can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our students.
Wishing you a fulfilling and inspiring October!
The Colorado Department of Higher Education extended the deadline to Oct. 22 for a loan repayment assistance program on qualified loans for licensed K-12 Colorado educators and counselors. The Temporary Educator Loan Forgiveness Program is mainly for those early in their careers who serve in rural and hard-to-fill positions in Colorado.
Applications are being accepted through October. Those who qualify can receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness for a given year. The program is funded for two years. Individuals who continue to qualify may apply every year of the program for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness annually.
More than 9,800 teachers had their projects approved in the second round of funding of the DonorsChoose campaign that only lasted three days.
On Thursday, Sept. 21, Gov. Jared Polis announced his office would contribute $6.7 million from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief fund to the DonorsChoose program, which provided $1,000 to teachers for classroom supplies and resources to improve students’ learning experiences. The Colorado Department of Education contributed an additional $440,000 to the second round of funding.
Teachers from around the state applied for the $7.1 million, and the campaign funding had been fully applied by Sunday, Sept. 24. DonorsChoose officials say it may be the fastest campaign in its history.
In August, CDE contributed $11 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to the DonorsChoose campaign. That first round of funding had been fully spent in just over a week with nearly 13,000 teachers obtaining classroom resources to address pandemic learning loss. DonorsChoose is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization that facilitated the campaign.
In both campaigns, Colorado public school teachers were able to apply and receive up to $1,000 in project funding, which included about $800 in materials after fees and other costs.
For teachers who were too late or whose project didn’t get funded, your project will remain posted on the DonorsChoose website and is available for any DonorsChoose donor to support. Officials at DonorsChoose say about 70% of projects that are posted ultimately get funded.
Last month, CDE announced the seven finalists for the 2024 Colorado Teacher of the Year competition from throughout Colorado. Each year, the Colorado Teacher of the Year program recognizes an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled K-12 classroom teacher to represent the entire profession in Colorado. The sole finalist will be named by the end of October and will become Colorado’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.
The Colorado Teacher of the Year program is supported by Denver 7 and the Boettcher Foundation. Award partners include the Colorado Education Association, Adams State University and Blue Bell Ice Cream.
The finalists for the Colorado Teacher of the Year 2024 Award are:
- Rawa Abu Alsamah -- Rocky Mountain Prep, Denver
- Danielle Cerna -- Trailside Academy, Mapleton School District
- Ivy Dalley -- Mancos Middle School, Mancos School District
- Miles Groth -- Ute Pass Elementary, Manitou Springs School District 14
- Kimberly Kane -- Delta Middle School, Delta County School District 50J
- Jessica May -- Conrad Ball/Turner Middle School, Thompson School District
- Tiffeny O’Dell -- Byers Junior Senior High School, Byers School District 32-Jl
As part of the recent updates to the READ Act, fourth through 12th grade reading interventionists must complete evidenced-based training in teaching reading by Aug. 1, 2024. A reading interventionist is defined as an individual employed to teach students and whose primary job duties include providing reading intervention to students on READ Act plans during regular school hours to supplement core academic instruction and who is employed in any of grades K-12.
Any K-12 teachers who have already completed one of the approved training options to meet the READ Act teacher training requirements and who have received the READ Act designation on their license, do not need to complete the updated K-12 training Building a Strong Foundation for Lifelong Literacy Success. For more information on READ Act training requirements, visit the READ Act Teacher Training webpage.
All eligible public school districts implementing the federal National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs opted in to serve all students breakfast and lunch for free under the state’s new Healthy School Meals for All Program.
The new program called Healthy School Meals for All is paid for from a tax on Colorado’s highest earners.The program makes Colorado one of only nine states in the country to offer free meals to students. Voters in November approved the plan. Districts had until Sept. 15 to say whether they would participate in the program. Every school district already implementing the federal programs agreed to participate. Aspen is the only district that doesn’t participate in the federal program.
Advocates say the program will feed more hungry students and will remove the stigma connected to receiving free school meals. A fiscal analysis estimated it will cost approximately $100 million annually to fund the program. The tax measure is expected to raise more than $100 million every year by reducing income tax deductions for households earning $300,000 or more. Additionally, districts participating in the program must maximize the federal funding they get from a program called Community Eligibility Provision, which allows the highest poverty schools and districts to serve meals at no cost to students without collecting household applications.
- For educators, the day before the first day of school has rituals all its own. Chalkbeat. Aug. 31, 2023.
- Does homework actually help students reach their goals. Denver 7, Aug. 21, 2023.
- New school in Aurora combines education and mental health treatments for struggling students CPR, Sept. 20, 2023
- Teacher of the Month: A teacher is celebrating 50 years in education. KKTV, Sept. 19, 2023.
STEM resources for teachers
Teachers, are you interested in more STEM classroom resources to support your work? Check out the Monthly STEM Resource highlights featured on the CDE STEM webpage. Recently highlighted resources include K-5 STEM Resources and Generative AI resources.