What Might be Possible in 2021?

January 22, 2021

By Rebecca Holmes, CEI President and CEO

The disruptions of 2020, long in some communities and shorter in others, pushed learning into students’ homes in ways we never could have predicted. The most responsive school systems in our state are starting to think quite differently about what 2020 has taught us all about the relationships between schools and families. And families, while tired of juggling the unexpected, have also just had a front-row seat to their children’s education experience. Sometimes the long-standing instincts of our systems lead us to avoid this kind of power shift. What might be possible with the increased agency, transparency, and partnership this moment could create?

Colorado is already known as a leader in innovation in our education systems, and as we adjust to the recovery phase of education disruptions caused by COVID, district leaders are showing deep thinking about how current systems will shift to respond to the needs of students and families. We look forward to sharing more about the ideas that are developing as this school year continues and districts prepare for what’s next in 2021-22.

One district that is leaning into what’s next is Clear Creek. Already immersed in the Homegrown Talent Initiative, Clear Creek is building on the work they have done to develop community and career-connected learning experiences through their visionary RISE initiative. Superintendent Karen Quanbeck shares the details of this plan to partner with students to create and implement a recovery plan that will reimagine learning opportunities and resource alignment. We are honored to be a partner in this work, which will create meaningful and sustainable change in Clear Creek schools and the community as a whole.

Here at CEI, we are elated to announce that veteran superintendent George Welsh will be joining us to launch the Rural Superintendent Academy (RSA). In both Cañon City and previous districts, George was known as a leader who adeptly worked with all members of the community to build a stronger and larger vision for what is possible. His leadership will enable a new generation of leaders to imagine and achieve what is possible with schools, students, families, and communities. The arrival of the RSA will provide leadership training, thought partnership, and a support network for superintendents in rural and remote areas of Colorado, where the availability of staffing and resources is limited. To that end, the Boettcher Foundation has created the Dr. Cile Chavez Fellowship to inspire diverse, under-represented education leaders to join the RSA and bring their unique perspectives to the helm of Colorado districts. Dr. Chavez has provided some perspective about the fellowship and the RSA in this insightful Q and A.

We are also hearing from you about how The Hub can further empower districts and schools as the need to provide changing and additional support for teachers and students unfolds. We are committed to the continued growth and improvement of The Hub and are working on updates now to address your feedback. This month’s newsletter provides some great resources from The Hub to inform and advance the many efforts underway to make family and community partnerships engaging and authentic.

There is much room for optimism with the beginning of 2021. CEI is firm in our resolve to center our work around your efforts to respond to the challenges presented this school year and provide learning environments that empower teachers, support students, and advance equity.

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