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The SPARK - May 2018

The Spark. A newsletter filled with information and inspiration for Colorado teachers.

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Katy Anthes

Dear teachers,

You’ve almost made it through “May-hem,” the busiest, most hectic and hopefully most gratifying time of the year for educators.
All year long, you have stayed late to support students, taken grading home in the evenings and gone in on weekends to craft lesson plans. In May you plan end-of-year presentations, provide extra help in time for finals, and attend all the fun celebrations.
I know you must be exhausted as you approach the end of the school year, but I hope you enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor as you watch your students walk across the graduation stage, or just proudly continue from one grade to the next. You know, and I know, that you’ve made a lasting difference on the lives of your students.
I have listened to many of your stories during my visits to schools throughout Colorado and during the Commissioner’s Teacher Cabinet meetings, and I have tried to infuse your voice into critical conversations around the state. 
In particular, I have had the opportunity to share your hard work through my role as the co-chair of the Education Leadership Council (ELC). Created by the governor, the ELC is working to create a new blueprint for education in Colorado – a vision for Colorado’s educational system, from early childhood through to the workforce.  All of us on the ELC believe it is time for Colorado to become “The State of Education” -- taking the lead in leveling the playing field for all learners, creating a nonpartisan blueprint for education from birth through life success, and helping to prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s ready workforce.
To do this, we are looking at the state of Colorado’s education system and asking hard questions about what’s working, what’s not, and why. We also want to know how we can move promising ideas into action. Our mission is ambitious, yet attainable – we want Colorado to lead the nation in preparing the next generation to be a skilled and prepared workforce. And, we need your ideas!
Teachers, more than any other profession, shape the future of our world. Our blueprint must honor you, and our priorities as a state should reflect the impact you have on our future.
The Colorado Education Association is hosting two events this summer to ensure that teachers’ ideas are included in the State of Education blueprint.
  1. Webinar: 4-5:30 p.m. June, 6 (Click here to register)
  2. Face-to-Face: 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7, at Colorado Education Association, 1500 Grant St., Denver (Click here to register)
In addition, the ELC would welcome your participation in a survey on the State of Education in Colorado, available here. Thank you for giving us your insights and expertise!
Last summer many of you took time to attend town hall meetings and participate in a survey on the teacher shortage. Your feedback informed our thinking and led the legislature in the passage of several bills designed to alleviate the shortage. More work needs to be done on this complex issue, but your voices are making a difference.
I hope your summer is full of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. You all deserve it! I also hope you can find a few moments to engage in this critical process to make Colorado THE STATE OF EDUCATION.


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Stock photo of young girl with glasses holding book to represent the READ Act toolkit resources webpage

Each year the Colorado State Library provides libraries across the state with a summer reading program to help teachers encourage reading over the summer and halt the dreaded summer slide, when students lose some of their reading skills.

This year’s theme is “Libraries Rock!” The Colorado State Library has a list of resources, also check in with your local public library for details about participating.  

More resources on reading and libraries include: 

 To find your local library and learn about what types of summer reading programs they have available for students, visit this directory to find phone numbers and addresses


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Stock photo of two children eating to represent Summer Food Service Program

Many children in Colorado go hungry during the summer months when they do not have access to school breakfast and lunch. You can help ensure all children have meals this summer by informing families about free summer meal sites available in their local communities.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free, nutritious meals to children 18 and younger in areas with high concentrations of low-income children. Kids who miss out on proper nutrition during the summer are more likely to experience learning loss and develop long-term health consequences. Teachers can be part of the solution and help kids to be ready to learn once back-to-school rolls around by telling families who can benefit from this program.

Free meals are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites operated across Colorado by public and private non-profit school districts, local government agencies, camps and other nonprofit community organizations that have the ability to manage a food service program.

To find summer meal sites, families can visit or text ‘Food’ or ‘Comida’ to 877-877.

To help spread the word about free summer meal sites, teachers can visit the Summer Food Service Program Outreach Tools webpage to find posters/door signage, social media images, sample posts and more.


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Graphic of books with headphones to represent the Colorado Talking Book Library's award

Every person should feel the joy of going on an adventure with a book, but this doesn’t mean we  all have to read books the same way. This is what the staff at the Colorado Talking Book Library will tell you before naming the various free services they provide to anyone – children and adults alike – who struggle to read standard print.

Director of the Colorado Talking Book Library Debbi MacLeod has been delivering this message since she started 14 years ago.

“Many teachers just don’t know about the program at all,” MacLeod said.  “Or, if they do, they think it is just for blind children. It is for any student who can’t read standard print – physical, visual or learning disability.”

The Colorado Talking Book Library provides thousands of audiobooks and books in Braille and large print. There are even pairings provided with standard print so students and teachers can go on these reading adventures together. 

“We believe this can be a resource to help close the achievement gaps happening in classrooms,” MacLeod said.

So how do you access these talking books? Students just need a filled-out application signed by their teacher and, in the case of a learning disability, their doctor. Once submitted, the Talking Book staff will send a welcome packet, audio player and a couple of books to get started.

Books can also be downloaded so students can have access to them on their phones and tablets anytime and anywhere.  And because summer reading is so important to prevent the “summer slide,” the Colorado Talking Book Library is participating in the national summer reading program.

On July 10, the Talking Book Library will hold an open house in Denver. Check out the Talking Book’s  homepage today to learn more.

Recently, the Colorado Talking Book Library was named the Network Library of the Year for 2017 by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which is part of the Library of Congress.


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