Schools to Watch Announced

The Colorado Association of Middle Level Education is proud to recognize four Colorado middle schools as 2015 Trailblazer Schools to Watch: Westview Middle School (St. Vrain), Basalt Middle School (Roaring Forks), Fort Morgan Middle School (Morgan County) and Wellington Middle School (Poudre).

For challenging students to use their minds well, being sensitive to the unique developmental needs of early adolescence and providing every student with a high-quality learning experience, these schools will be one of 100 schools that will be recognized nationwide at the National Schools to Watch Conference on June 25, in Washington, DC.

“These Schools to Watch are indeed special; they make education so exciting that students and teachers don’t want to miss a day. They have proven that it is possible to achieve a high degree of educational excellence, and any middle-level school can truly learn from their example,” said Dr. Deborah Kasak, Forum executive director. “We are pleased that our Schools to Watch program have shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment to healthy development and equity for all students,” Kasak said.

Selection is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they met criteria developed by the Forum. State teams organized by the Colorado Schools to Watch ( program conduct site visits in order to affirm that they have indeed met the rigorous requirements of the award. These teams observe classrooms, interview administrators, teachers, and parents, review achievement data, suspension rates, instructional quality, and student work. Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years must repeat the process in order to be re-designated.

Schedule a visit to “watch” excellence at these schools​

Westview Middle School enrolls 775 students in grades 6-8 in Longmont, St. Vrain Valley School District. It has a free and reduced population of 30%, and 11% English Language Learners.  Westview students engage in authentic, inquiry based learning as designed by their highly skilled staff of teachers. At this STEM focus school, all students engage in project-based learning, using the design process, to learn, create, innovate, think, and apply 21st Century skills. Westview exemplifies a middle school philosophy based on teaching the whole child, this includes teaming, affective programming, and a wide range of learning opportunities and co-curricular activities best meets the needs of young adolescent learners. Westview staff fosters high expectations supports students as they develop a strong work ethic and sense of personal responsibility that is essential to meet the challenges of the future. The staff at Westview is lead by principal Mark Spencer.

Basalt Middle School, part of the Roaring Fork School District, enrolls 409 students in grades 5-8. 45% of their students qualify for free/reduced lunch, 57% of their population is Hispanic, and 16% of the population are identified English Language Learners. Basalt was noted by the Colorado Department of Education as a 2012  Distinguished School Award winner for having the top 8%  student growth scores according to performance on the state assessments.   Students and staff at Basalt attribute their success to a focus on each child’s growth mindset, high expectations for learning and achieving, and a strong caring staff.  Each and every child is provided metacognitive opportunities to reflect on his/her learning growth and tactics and supported effectively to meet the challenging demands of our globally competitive society. Rigorous teaching and learning and articulated interventions that ensure that every child receives timely, descriptive feedback that mediates their learning to new and every soaring heights. Jeremy Voss leads the staff at Basalt Middle School.

Fort Morgan Middle School is a school of 491students in grades seven and eight with a mobility rate of 22%.  Located in Fort Morgan, it works collaboratively to meet the needs of their diverse population. Approximately 70% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Over 11 different languages are spoken within their community, and 63% of the population is Hispanic. Fort Morgan has created an environment that has put it on a trajectory of success, evidenced by three years’ growth. They have worked to steadily erase predictive gaps between student populations.  Fort Morgan provides a wide range of opportunities to meet the needs of all students and ensure a high level of challenge while emphasizing academic achievement, cultural diversity, state and district standard implementation.  A thriving migrant program supports new arrivals from the Congo and other African nations. Ben Bauman leads the staff at Fort Morgan.

Wellington Middle School enrolls 384 students in grades 6-8 in Wellington, Poudre School District.  It has a free and reduced population of 44%, and 9% English Language Learners.  Wellington students focus on achieving excellence are led in focused, standards-based learning that permeates their day. Students create their own learning goals, monitor their own progress throughout the school year, and perform student-led conferences. They actively use self-assessment strategies and are able analyze scoring rubrics to determine their own level of achievement.  A well designed core is enhanced by rich exploratory courses. A comprehensive approach to interventions has been effectively embedded for both academic and social/emotional support. Wellington is a nationally recognized AVID school, and the college readiness atmosphere, high level of thinking and rigor as well as learning expectations pervade the school community. The staff at Wellington is lead by principal Alicia Durand.