In Step with Winston at Cibola, Seven Bar, and Garfield
When I visited Cibola High recently, it wasn’t the first time I’d been to the school, but it was the first time I’d had a chance to sit down and have a long talk with Principal Elena Salazar and students. Mrs. Salazar has a strong academic plan for the school, where their motto is “motivate, educate and graduate.” They take this motto seriously: more than 75 percent of the Cougars graduate in four years.
I visited several classrooms and asked students to rate their teachers on a scale of one to 10. I’m proud to report that the majority of students gave their teachers a seven or higher. To me this means teachers are engaging their students and positively impacting academic achievement.
I also had the pleasure of visiting with McKay Lindsey, Cibola’s student body president, who showed me the Cougar Closet, where students and other community members donate clothes and supplies for those at the school in need. Students can get everything from a shirt or a prom dress to a notebook or pencils. The Cougar Closet is representative of the generosity, sense of community and pride I sensed at CHS.
After my visit at Cibola, I headed up the hill to Seven Bar Elementary. Principal Nancy Lacher runs a well organized and academically strong school. She has designed innovative ways to engage parents in the learning of the students. For example, Seven Bar has done away with open house in the traditional sense of the event. Instead, parents are invited to spend a day in their child’s classroom. More than 60 percent of parents are taking advantage of this opportunity.
I spent time in a kindergarten classroom, where students asked me questions about my family’s dogs and the wildlife that lives in my neighborhood. During the visit, I also got to watch President Obama’s speech on education with students. The students were engaged and asked questions about the difference between the president’s job and my job as superintendent.
I also had the opportunity to speak to another strong group of AVID students at Garfield Middle School. As we chatted, these students took Cornell notes, a skill they learned in their college-prep class to help them retain information and highlight important facts. The students wanted to know how quickly they might become a superintendent. I told them with hard work and a good education, they just might follow in my footsteps!