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Take the Yellow Bus Tour

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus
School district trustees Carmen Schank, center, and Matt Hyde, right, receive a short introduction on the Google Expeditions Exploration.
Steve Ranson / LVN

Churchill County School District Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Goal 1: Implement learning opportunities to develop “life ready” learners

Objective 1: By May 2019, build and implement a profile of a learner to drive district decisions.

Objective 2: By August 2022, establish and implement a high impact instructional and profession practices framework.

Objective 3: By August 2022, build multiple pathways for learning. including, but not limited to, schedules, models, programs and systems to support consistent growth toward on-time graduation.

Object 4: By August 2022, design and implement effective curriculum continuums and assessment implementation plans that support life-ready work.

Goal 2: Develop the whole child through international opportunities that lead to engaged citizens

Objective 1: By May 2021, increase implementation of effective structures and programs necessary to ensure 100% engaged citizens.

Objective 2: By May 2021, implement and enforce consistent and equitable positive and negative consequences to ensure positive and negative consequences to ensure positive behaviors/engagement by utilizing PBIS in all buildings.

Objective 3: By May 2022, improve attendance to 90% districtwide in order to ensure opportunities for growth and development by reducing the chronically absent.

Objective 4: By May 2021, implement a variety of opportunities to develop all areas of the child (including, but not limited to, art, music, physical education, special-emotional development).

Goal 3: Formalize internal and external communication structures between teachers, students, leadership, families and community to create effective engagement and collaboration.

Objective 1: Starting in February 2019, annually identify the areas for growth in communication internally and externally.

Objective 2: By May 2019, design and implement a district communication plan, using available communication methods, to increase communication and collaboration with staff and external stakeholders.

Objective 3: Annually, develop and/or enhance at least two parent and community engagement opportunities with the district to strengthen communication.

Profile of a Learner

This profile describes the expectations our community believes are required of successful learners in the Churchill County School District.

A critical thinker

• Asks questions

• Thinks flexibly

• Analyzes outcomes

• Designs and implements solutions to complex problems

• Uses relevant and reliable evidence to support claims

An Inspired innovator

• Explores multiple possibilities

• Challenges the status quo

• Employs an entrepreneurial spirit

• Acts on creative ideas

• Seeks to continually improve processes and products

• Applies a deliberate design process to solve problems

A collaborative learner

• Seeks diverse team members

• Listens and acts with empathy

• Does his or her part

• Values individua contributions

• Gives and receives feedback

An effective communicator

• Speaks and writes clearly

• Listens actively

• Resolves conflicts peacefully

• Adapts to the needs of an audience

• Engages with print and digital media

• Develops a responsible digital footprint

A global citizen

• Impacts the community responsibly

• Shows empathy and respect for all

• Embraces diversity of opinion

• Seeks cultural understanding

• Makes safe, legal and ethical choices

• Demonstrates civic responsibility

• Participates in democratic processes

A lifelong learner

• Demonstrates mastery of academic skills

• Persists through difficulties

• Sees risks as opportunities to fail forward

• Plans for a future of self-improvement

• Initiates learning for professional and personal fulfillment

The annual Yellow Bus Tour recently took community representatives to various schools in Churchill County to see learning programs and technology within the school district.

The morning tour made stops at Numa and Lahontan elementary schools, Churchill County High School and the final destination, Churchill County Middle School. Kenny Mitchell, CCSD’s director of transportation, drove the school bus to each site for the 20 passengers. Before he pulled out from the middle school bus lane, he explained the buses will have the technology in the future to scan a bar code associated with a passenger and then track students when they board or step off the bus.

The transportation system covers thousands of miles every year. Mitchell said the reach for busing students extends to the east at Middlegate and to the west at Lahontan Reservoir.

A 5-minute ride across town took the Yellow Bus Tour to Numa where Principal Shawn Purrell gave an overview of the school and its programs. He said Numa experienced 100 percent growth during the last school year, and the English Language Learners program has 36 students. Furthermore, Purrell said a Robotic Club began last year with seven students. He said the first meeting this year “packed the kids in.”

Even with the teacher shortage affecting Nevada schools, he said Numa is fully staffed, but two positions were filled with emergency hires, on in this case, retired teachers. Superintendent Summer Stephens said student teachers are finished with their programs and ready to launch their careers.

Katie Drieseng worked with Numa’s fourth and fifth graders with literary intervention. She has 25 students that are divided into groups of five to seven pupils. After the Christmas break, the school will see if other students need her help.

“If they miss something in the classroom, they get it from me,” she said.

Drieseng said more students needed her help than anticipated.

“Katie’s job is to support teachers as a reading specialist,” Stephens said.

Michelle Richardson also said the school district plans to introduce a Discovery Lab at Numa, similar to the one at CCMS. Stephens added some of the STEM instruction (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) is integrated into regular classes.

Stephens said the school district has been working with JOIN to build work-base learning. Middle-school students, for example, will be exposed to more opportunities through career fairs.

The next stop took the travelers to CCHS. The Yellow Bus Tour participants first saw music teacher Tom Fleming preparing his strings students for a dinner and performance held last weekend.

“The string orchestra is so important to our schools,” Fleming said.

Adjacent to the music room is the school’s auditorium, a hall that comfortably seats about 300 people. Drama instructor and director Glen Perazzo was putting the finishing touches on the set for a school play.

“This is one of the best stages and play areas in the state,” Perazzo boasted.

Stephens said the drama program offers great opportunities for the students.

“It’s amazing what we have in our town,” Winter said.

The second-year principal cited the stage at the Fallon Theatre and also Barkley Theater at the Oats Park Arts Center.

Once outside at the quad, Winter told the bus-tour group that additional security is planned for the area. He explained how fencing with gates that swing outward would be built at the school’s corners.

“All the separate buildings present challenges,” he said.

The tour group visited the auto mechanics area and the FFA’s hoop houses. The visitors also learned how cafeteria improvements in food preparation are increasing the number of students who stay during lunch.

Winter said the school is focusing on the skill sets students need. For example, he said CCHS students will be able to obtain a welding certificate. Currently, the school has 16 welding bays in the shop area. Students can also earn an ASE certificate in auto mechanics, and in wood shop, he said students are building sheds.

Across the campus lies Lahontan Elementary School. Principal Kimi Melendy said the school houses 485 students in kindergarten and first grade, which breaks down to 12 classes for each grade.

After the participants boarded the bus for the return trip to the middle school, Nate Waite, CCSD’s NWRPDP facilitator, summarized future needs for students.

“Everything we do is centered on the kids and helping them choose what they want to do in life,” he said.

Waite and Stephens said the school district is part of the community and strives to be a community partner.

After lunch, the Yellow Bus Tour participants attended a session to learn about Google Expeditions Exploration. According to Google’s website, “Google Expeditions is an immersive education app that allows teachers and students to explore the world through over 1,000 virtual-reality (VR) and 100 augmented-reality (AR) tours. You can swim with sharks, visit outer space, and more without leaving the classroom.”