Success Story: Our Own Green Gables Elementary

We received some great news from Suanne Hawley, Principal of Green Gables Elementary School. She sent a copy of a press release from the Jefferson County School District, highlighting our very own favorite school.

Jeffco’s Performance Continues to Exceed the State

Golden, CO (August 16, 2018) — Jeffco Public Schools’ Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) and college entrance test results for the 2017-18 school year continue to outpace the state of Colorado for achievement and growth data on CMAS and PSAT/SAT assessments.

Success Story. One of the many school success stories in Jeffco includes Green Gables Elementary in Lakewood, celebrating English language arts growth results that increased from the 37th percentile in 2016 to 56th in 2018. CMAS mathematics growth showed even larger gains, from the 28th percentile to the 58th percentile over three years. Achievement scores also steadily improved.

The Heart of the Neighborhood

“We are so proud to see our school vision of Leading, Learning, and Growing…Together! make a difference and that student growth is showing in our CMAS results. Over the last two years, we pulled together as a highly-collaborative school community with a laser-like focus on the student experience, professional learning, and fostering strong relationships through a commitment to restorative practices,” explained Principal Suanne Hawley. “Thanks to the hard work of our staff, student self-direction, and support from our families, our kids are learning more than ever!”

Points of Light. Notable Jeffco performance highlights include SAT and PSAT achievement and growth scores that substantially exceed the state of Colorado’s overall performance, as well as performance gains in middle school math achievement.

“It’s clear we have made progress, and we make a point to celebrate those successes. We also track the strategies that are making an impact so we can support this work in other areas of our district,” said Matt Flores, Chief Academic Officer.

Room to Grow. CMAS and SAT results provide an opportunity to identify areas that need attention as well, notably opportunity gaps for students who reside in lower income communities. Jeffco Public Schools has prioritized its commitment to equity in Jeffco’s strategic vision and strategic plan, as the organization believes a truly great system offers all students an opportunity to realize their full potential.

“Jeffco Public Schools continues its tradition of excellence, as expected,” said Superintendent Dr. Jason Glass. “However, our work in transforming the classroom experience for all students will give us more opportunities to make learning engaging, and I’m confident that our CMAS, PSAT, and SAT results will track that positive impact as we move forward.”

About Jeffco Public Schools

Jeffco Public Schools has been providing educational excellence for more than 65 years. The district serves over 86,000 students at 155 schools. Jeffco Public Schools is dedicated to changing the classroom experience through Readiness for Learning, Conditions for Learning, and Learning as outlined in the Jeffco Generations strategic vision. Find Jeffco Public Schools on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Article provided by Diana Wilson
Executive Director, Communication Services

Volunteers Needed

Festival Italiano at Belmar is going zero waste! ZWS will be on-site operating two zero waste stations during the event (Sept. 8 & 9). If you live in or near Lakewood, please help us by volunteering a couple of hours of your time so that we can keep as much trash out of the landfill as possible. There is no heavy lifting required and you won’t have to handle the trash. As a bonus, all volunteers will receive a meal voucher to enjoy a yummy treat from one of the vendors at the festival. Sign up here! (And after you sign up for this special event, check out more volunteer opportunities here.)

A Friend in the Neighborhood

This article was originally published in, and is reprinted here with permission.

A friend recently joined the Board of our neighborhood association, and brought with him some fresh new ideas and energy. His name is also Bruce, and he started referring to himself as Bruce-02, since I had been roped into — I mean motivated to join — the Board first. I call him 2 for short. He had tried unsuccessfully to retire from regular work several times, but kept being drawn back to his longtime career in academia. He finally managed to retire, though, but as his wife sadly noted he came down with a case of VD — Volunteer Disorder. He has found himself deeply involved in volunteer work, and seems to take on one thing after another. That was, oddly enough, how we had met a year or two ago, shoveling topsoil and mulch for a community garden.

2 made a suggestion that the neighborhood association do something to make people more aware of volunteer opportunities as a benefit to the community. He wrote an article on the topic (which you can see here) for our neighborhood website. It’s mostly local and very convenient. The response to it has been, shall we say, politely reserved. Crickets. It’s surprising how hard it is for our little elementary school to get people to come out and see the kids safely across the street; that’s the easiest, lowest-involvement job on the whole menu! Maybe people are saving up their strength for more challenging opportunities, such as mentoring a young teenager one-on-one, teaching a refugee family how to navigate Safeway, or going down to a storm-ravaged area to help clean up.

I remember years ago, when Stormy and I were in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, hearing a new volunteer brimming enthusiasm, “This is the Olympics of volunteering!” I liked that phrase, albeit a little too self-congratulatory from anyone other than one just out of training. It occurs to me now, poking at the analogy, that there is a whole rich and vital world of sport — with life-lifting excitement, growth, skill, challenge, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat — outside the Olympic arena. You don’t have to work and wait to make it to the greatest level of a sport in order to enjoy and benefit greatly from it. Wait, benefit? Who said anything about benefits? Isn’t volunteering supposed to be generously and selflessly giving of your time and talents? Wouldn’t it be kind of cheating to do it because it benefits you?

Aha! That’s the dirty little secret. The best volunteers do it because it benefits them. They get enjoyment, and satisfaction, and fulfillment, and even better health out of volunteering. (Don’t tell, or there goes that “selfless” image.)

The beneficial effects of volunteering have been studied and documented by the Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, the Harvard School of Public Health, and others. Some of the findings seem useful and applicable to anyone’s life, even people who already have too much to do. As a reminder, before we start the list (compiled in no particular order from several sources),1 2 3 if something is both good and available, the best time to go after it is not maybe next month. It is now. So here we go.
Volunteering decreases the risk of depression, especially for older adults. This one is pretty easy to see: getting outside of yourself does wonders. Social interaction and participation in a support system can reduce or forestall depression.

Reduction in stress levels. Social interaction and the building of networks can buffer or outright alleviate stress, and a reduction in stress reduces risk of illness. The sense of meaning and appreciation that comes from positive interaction with others can have a stress-reducing effect.

Meeting new people and developing new relationships, by participating in shared activities together, helps you keep sharp in social skills with others. The network you build in sharing common interests can spill over into other areas of your life and lead to unanticipated benefits from relationships that would otherwise be unavailable.

Finally, quoting the Mayo Clinic article cited below — and this is a big one:

Volunteering may help you live longer. An analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health. In addition, several studies have shown that volunteers with chronic or serious illness experience declines in pain intensity and depression when serving as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain.

My friend in the neighborhood hit on some pretty important ideas when he suggested that getting people to volunteer would be good for the community. Now we can see that it clearly has benefits for those who make volunteering a part of their lives. One good thing that can come from it, at the very least, is becoming a friend in the neighborhood.