Students, teachers and staff at Village East Elementary School in Aurora aren’t waiting for the fall to focus on learning.
Hundreds of Village East students reported for their first day of school July 8 at the school, one of four buildings in the Cherry Creek School District that operate on a year-round schedule. Three of the school’s four tracks kicked off Tuesday, and the building boasted all the buzz and excitement of a new school year.
Teachers finalized lesson plans and tidied classrooms as parents offered last-minute advice and emotional goodbyes before the first bell. Students arrived in new classrooms, ready to kick off the work of a fresh school year. It was a scene typical at most schools at the end of the summer. But Village East’s four-track schedule means that for some, there’s a two-week gap between the end of one school year and the beginning of another.
|“I like the teacher; that helps a lot … I trust this school. There’s a lot of kids who want to come here.”|
That approach offers benefits to students, faculty and staff.
“They haven’t forgotten school, that’s the big piece. Two weeks, three weeks is perfect for a vacation,” said Village East Principal John Cramer. “They know the routines and get into them faster.”
The four-track calendar is also a boon for teachers like Beatrice Arteaga-Rollins, who’s been at Village East for 12 years. Between greeting students and parents in her first-grade classroom, Arteaga-Rollins said the year-round calendar helps keep students focused and gives teacher plenty of chances to update and expand lesson plans.
“It’s a little reprieve to regroup and figure out the planning, what our next focus,” Arteaga-Rollins. “We’ll go nine weeks in a row and have a little break. Usually during that time, my teammate and I will say, ‘What went well? What are our goals?’”
While the school’s projected enrollment tops 800 for the 2014-15 year, the track system means there’s never more than 650 in the building. Eastridge, Pine Ridge and Red Hawk Ridge also run on the four-track schedule.
The schedule may be different at Village East, but Arteaga-Rollins said this week’s welcome carried the same kind of excitement that’s come with every new school year since she started teaching 18 years ago.
“Every first day of school is exciting – meeting the kids for the first time, meeting the families,” she said. “I see parents that get emotional. They’re trusting me so much, and that is a huge honor for me.”
Jamie Valdetero was one of those parents who put so much trust in the Village East faculty. She watched as her 5-year-old daughter, Adeline, lined up with her fellow first-graders and headed inside for her first day of class. Valdetero smiled broadly as she spoke about seeing her daughter off for a new adventure.
“She’s excited to be in first grade, and I’m excited because she’s excited,” Valdetero said, adding that the meet-and-greet event held the day before helped soothe any nerves. “I like the teacher; that helps a lot … I trust this school. There’s a lot of kids who want to come here.”