District 51’s three E’s

It took eight hours, two dinners, and an untold amount of discussion among the more than 50 people who attended two community visioning meetings for School District 51 — but on Wednesday night, they crafted a draft vision statement for the district’s future.

“Equip, engage and empower our learning community today for an unlimited tomorrow.”

Community members, parents, teachers, administrators and other school district staff wrestled with how to convey a vision for the 21,000-student school district’s future. They debated grammar, suggested synonyms and weighed whether to make it a complete sentence.

They read through the input from meetings with more than 200 people over the past two years about what direction the district should be moving.

Annie Payne, a parent of two high school seniors and local television host, said the community must have a stake in the future of education in Mesa County. Even though her children will soon graduate, Payne said she would continue to be invested in the school district.

“I think as long as I stay in this community, I have a stake in whether we have a good education system,” she said. “The people who don’t, I think they’re missing that a community with a good education system is part of the bigger picture. You get a better caliber of people, you get more community-mindedness, and you get a safer and healthier community.”

Superintendent Steve Schultz said the next step is to take the vision statement to the community for more input.

“We want it to be owned by the community,” Schultz said. “I think there’s been a lot of very focused work on these ideas, and I think we have a good starting place for further vetting with the community.”

Cam Wyatt, principal of the Career Center, said he wanted to make sure the focus of the vision statement didn’t get too narrow.

“A vision is something that’s accepted by many people and you have many people believing in it … so it needs to be broad enough to inspire, to enable and to encourage teachers, students and parents to be involved in the whole process,” Wyatt said. “I was very excited when I saw those words (equip, engage, empower), because they could be different for everybody, but generally speaking there’s an underlying feeling of … it gives me hope. It gives me a sense of responsibility and belonging.”


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