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Ponderosa Elementary School (7116)

Elementary school

Google map of Ponderosa Elementary School

AURORA, CO 80012


Total Students Served

Pre-K - Grade 5

School Profile

About Ponderosa Elementary School (7116)


Ponderosa Elementary School


At Ponderosa, we are a family consisting of approximately 574 students, preschool - 5th grade, speaking 29 different languages, and consisting of 234 non-native English speakers in Aurora, Colorado. Our dedication to establish a sense of belonging for staff, students, parents and the greater community creates a climate of understanding and compassion where diversity is valued. We make data-informed decisions regarding academics and behavior in order to close our achievement gap while working to raise the achievement of all students. We are committed to preparing students for a post-secondary education or a career path of their choosing through a culturally responsive curriculum aligning with state and national standards. Our mission and vision statements represent deeply rooted practices and beliefs staff members commit to each and every day. The ethnic breakdown is as follows: 7% Asian, 23% Black, 42% Hispanic/ Latino, 11% Multi-Racial, 16% White, >1% Indigenous and >1% Pacific Islander. The staff at Ponderosa strive to provide a wealth of educational experiences for each child. The school offers a variety of programs and opportunities that enrich the academic experience for all students. These programs include Gifted/Talented, English Language Acquisition, targeted reading instruction, targeted math instruction, integrated arts (Art, Music, PE and Technology) specialized instructional support and an Integrated Learning Center for students with adaptive learning needs. Through these services we educate our students and provide them with individualized and intentional instruction. The curriculum and instruction provided to Ponderosa? students is based on the Colorado Academic Standards. Teachers provide students with culturally responsive instruction that is implemented through the Houghton Mifflin/ Harcourt Ed reading/ writing resource, Fundations Phonics, Bridges Math, Inquiry/ Journeys Social Studies, the new NGSS certified science curricular materials, Second Step Social Emotional Learning, and Mindful Life. Ponderosa also offers a unique model of instruction for Multilingual Students. Co-teaching is a district endorsed instructional approach implemented by the general education classroom teacher in partnership with the English Language Learning Specialist. Together the two licensed professionals provide learning experiences with language based outcomes for Multilingual Students. This approach has proven to accelerate the acquisition of English and therefore the overarching achievement of Multilingual Students. Ponderosa implemented the Co-teaching model of instruction at the beginning of the 2007/08 school year. Co-teaching has been the working model of instructional support for Multilingual Students ever since. Ponderosa staff embrace and promote the core values of the Cherry Creek School District - Growth Mindset, Equity, Whole Wellbeing, Engagement and Relationships. The commitment given to the district core values helps cement our promise to deliver a first class school experience for every child at Ponderosa. Staff members at Ponderosa value and intentionally foster a positive school climate and endeavor to create an environment in which students and parents feel welcome and safe. Each staff member is committed to developing positive relationships with students and families promoting partnerships that ultimately translate into students feeling comfortable taking risks and experiencing repeated success through an autonomous motivation to engage and succeed. During each month of the school year, administration, the Ponderosa Leadership Team and parent groups reflect on the academic success of the students and plan professional development according to the needs that surface in those meetings. Highly qualified teachers are recruited at the district level. Credentials are verified by the district human resources office and screening interviews are conducted to enhance the potential for an excellent match. Teacher candidates experience a rigorous interviewing experience requiring each candidate to meet with a panel of staff members and a student interview committee. Existing staff members are encouraged to participate in numerous surveys throughout the school year to provide insight and understanding as it pertains to happiness in the workplace. Teachers are also encouraged to participate in the Leadership Insight Survey, provided by the Cherry Creek School District. The function of this survey is to allow teachers to offer feedback to the principal on leadership practices. The survey is protected and confidential, enhancing participation rates. Attendance at School: If students are to have the opportunity to reach their potential, they must regularly attend school. All healthy students are expected to be at school. Ponderosa administration, classroom teachers, mental health staff, and the school nurse collaborate to educate parents and students on the importance of attending school. 89% percent of Ponderosa students attend school daily. This is a drop of 3% compared to pre-pandemic attendance rate. two years removed from the pandemic, our goal is to improve attendance at Ponderosa and re-establish pre-pandemic attendance rates. The Ponderosa attendance team meets bimonthly to review student attendance records. A comprehensive plan is in place for students demonstrating attendance issues. Safety at the Ponderosa is paramount to success. In an effort to provide a safe and welcoming environment, Ponderosa has a multifaceted plan in place to ensure safety and success. The plan is divided into two categories: physical and emotional safety. The Ponderosa safety plan, which is developed and constantly adjusted by the Ponderosa Safety Team, is a living document that supports the safety of our students and staff. The school principal, assistant principal and building engineer meet, monthly, to inspect and discuss the state of the building. Building evacuation, secure perimeter, lock down and hold drills are practiced monthly. Shelter in place drills are practiced monthly during the months of August ? October and March ? May. Immediate feedback is provided to staff and students upon the conclusion of each drill practice session. Parents who attend the Ponderosa Accountability, PTCO and PASS meetings are informed of our practice and performance during safety drills. Ponderosa is a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) school. The Ponderosa philosophical approach to student discipline promotes recognizing and celebrating students for making good/ appropriate choices, but holds students accountable and implements restorative consequences when a student's choices do not meet expectations. This plan is school-wide and embraced with fidelity by all staff. Students receive constant and consistent feedback and education to support the success of the PBIS initiative. Rewards ceremonies are held three times yearly to celebrate success and to honor those students who exemplify the behavioral characteristics that support the caring community. In addition to PBIS, Ponderosa teaches and embeds the Second Step curriculum into each instructional day as a means to support and empower youngsters to work through challenging emotions, frustrations, as well as threatening and difficult situations that arise during and outside of school. Every teacher hosts a morning meeting with students each day for 20 minutes called Connect to Kids. This is sacred time that allows each classroom to implement Second Step lessons and discuss challenging situations that present during the day at school. This time truly allows each classroom to build a safe and healthy community and learning environment. Ponderosa currently has a multitude of opportunities available to parents to be an active part of the school environment. The Ponderosa PTCO and Accountability Committee meet monthly to discuss school improvement, internal processes, and fund-raising endeavors. In addition, the school hosts three family night events that are designed to encourage parent involvement, cross cultural acceptance and to share support tips with parents that are intended to increase knowledge of the curricular program and academic expectations. These events are held to provide engaging opportunities for parents to learn more about reading, writing and math instruction. Additionally, Ponderosa hosts two family math nights in which parents come to learn more about the instructional practices incorporated by teachers at the school to teach mathematics. Ponderosa also provides three opportunities for parents and teachers to meet to discuss student progress during the school year. In addition to this, an open house/back to school night and periodic family nights provide numerous opportunities for parents and staff to build meaningful relationships. Finally, the Ponderosa Equity team hosts monthly PASS (Partnerships for Academically Successful Students) meetings specifically for our Parent of Color. The purpose of these meetings is to intentionally improve the school's relationship with our Families of Color and to discuss instructional approaches that will most effectively support the learning needs of our Students of Color. It is our hope through the work accomplished during these meetings that we will elevate and accelerate the achievement of all students, thus narrowing, and eventually eliminating, the racial academic achievement gap that exists at Ponderosa. Climate and safety is important to the Ponderosa staff. Each component is taken seriously in the hope of providing students and families with a sense of security, knowing every opportunity will be available for students to experience success. Chad Gerity Principal



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