Legacy Academy Students, Parents, & Staff:
Thank you all for a fantastic first week of school! I appreciate the warm welcome that I've received from all of you in my first weeks as principal and I look forward to an incredible school year.
In 2012-13, there are over 80,000 students attending more than 190 charter
school campuses in Colorado. This represents nearly 11% of total K-12 public
school enrollment in the state. Charter schools operate using what the state
calls Per Pupil Funding, or PPR for short. The average PPR is around $6369 per
student. Out of that funding, charter schools must provide education services to
all of the students, as well as pay for teachers and facilities. Charter schools are
forced to spend these operating funds on facilities unlike most public schools in
Colorado. This means that charter schools spend less on operations than what
the state defines as the minimum requirement to meet education program
This brings up the question that I am often asked. How does Legacy Academy offer up the best technology and
teachers, in a beautiful facility, while working with a funding disadvantage? One of the ways charter schools are able
to have such success is through the efNiciencies that are created by the organizational model. They focus on
educational opportunities and are quick to adapt thanks to parent led individual school boards that drive the
schools direction and steer the principal. The principal then takes on the roles of superintendent, human resource
director, communication director, curriculum director, food service director, Ninance director and special education
coordinator. This gives the school board a tremendous ability to make policies and manage the overall wellbeing of
the school and its budget.
The most important key to our success however, is the many wonderful parents and the amazing PTO organization
that volunteers and helps bring in extra funding wherever possible. Last year, we were able to bring in nearly
$10,000 of funding from parent donations and fundraisers. This year we will be having our annual Spring Fling
event, Saturday, May 4th. This is a great opportunity to help support Legacy Academy through attending the event,
or making a charitable donation to the school. These donations go to offset the budget deNicit that we face as a
charter school. We use this money to put back into programs and fund new curriculum options, clubs and activities.
In part, through your donations to the Spring Fling this year, I am working to bring back full time foreign language to
Legacy Academy. This would allow students in grades K-8 to gain exposure in an area that is important to all college
applicants. Please consider helping Legacy Academy continue to bring more programs to the students by attending
the Spring Fling, or by making a contribution on May 4th. Despite budget cuts and state set backs, the future is bright
for your children.
Sincerely, Jason Cross
Gaming culture is upon this generation in a big way. It is projected that 90% of all younger students will play video games every day. It is often said that this is very bad for our youth, and even more important our minds. New research is coming out all the time that says otherwise. This is not to say that all gaming is good gaming. More to the point that gaming can have positive effects on the mind. As education moves forward I believe there will be more advancements in bringing quality educational games into the classroom. These games have the ability to engage and give students the ability to focus for long periods of time. Imagine if they could also provide key information needed to be successful.
Last week was a great week for many of our current and former students. We received a letter from Valor Christian High School congratulating Levi Walter, ( 8th grade student from last year) on becoming part of the Cum Laude Society. This is a great achievement for Levi, and we are very proud of him.
In addition, we had several students that were recognized for their efforts in the Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest. Former student Molly Grebenc was awarded the building winner for 8th grade. In addition, Heather McKee and Reilly Blakeslee won at the chapter level and their essays have been forwarded to the state competition. They will be awarded a medal and special certificate. We wish Heather and Reilly the very best as they move forward in the competition.
Last Thursday we had three fine students, Lana Gore, Lukas Carveth, and Maddy Proctor, who qualified for the District Spelling Bee. Lana Gore, a 5th grade student, had a strong performance and was able to place third against some very tough middle school talent.
Legacy Academy provides all of its students the opportunity to do big things. I am proud of all the students that take advantage of that opportunity and give so much effort to their work. Great job Legacy Academy students, and keep up the good work!
Application in education is something that has been the focus of debate for years. It is often said that if we could just bring the real world into the classroom, we could gain practical experience and make the learning engaging and challenging. For years, education has looked to math word problems as the “real world” solution. We all know that although word problems in math are important, they don’t offer the same level of learning that a true real world problem might. At Legacy Academy, we are working to bring more real world problems into the classroom to allow students the opportunity to explore a variety of interests and learn in a more engaging environment. In addition, these opportunities rely heavily on all of the experts that are a part of Legacy Academy. Specifically, we are looking to parents and community members that work and deal with real world problems to help us in creating opportunities to allow our students to learn by attempting to solve them.
This brings us to our next exciting opportunity for students and parents alike. Mission to Mars is going to be an upcoming multi-week unit in which the students of Legacy Academy will plan an entire trip to Mars. We have contacted a group, the Mars Society, which is based out of Lakewood Colorado. Their purpose is to further the exploration and settlement of the planet Mars through outreach programs, government participation, and private enterprise evolvement. But we still need your help.
Our multi-week unit will be based on students getting an opportunity to provide solutions to the problems presented by space travel. For example Kindergartners might be involved in helping us come up with a list of essential items they would require for their trip, while the 8th grade math group would spend time measuring and weighing those items to calculate the atmospheric escape velocity needed to get them on their way to the Red Planet. These activities will culminate in a simulated rocket launch, where a team of students will use NASA KLASS software to simulate a live ground control operation. We want this to be an exciting and inspirational activity that will encourage students to think about all of the possibilities that their education gives them.
If you have any expertise in an area that you feel would be essential to the planning of a trip of this type we would love to incorporate your real world knowledge into our unit. From graphic designers, storage experts, engineers, math specialists, construction professionals and all other places in between, we can use your help in completing our Mission to Mars. If this is something that inspires or excites you, please let us know and one of our mission specialists will find a way that we can help the students of Legacy Academy get a great education through all of the wonderful opportunities we have available.
Legacy Academy believes that your students should have the opportunity to be happy and healthy at school. We believe that your students should be challenged to become thinkers and problem solvers. We believe that inspiration is an important part of education and that students should be prepared to live and work in a modern world. We thank all of our students for their hard work and hope that everybody has had a wonderful start to their new year.
I have been receiving some emails about TCAP test scores and I wanted to take some time to address everybody as a whole about school performance. Standardized testing is an interesting subject. Statistics can be very deceiving and often can produce some skewed results. In part, this confusion can be created by the way that the state works to push schools to achieve more. This is a great philosophy, but does not take into account school growth and other issues that can have a tremendous impact on scores. Simply put, it is very hard to compare schools and students.
In this first chart, it shows that at Legacy Academy, 74.81% of students were proficient or advanced in reading on the TCAP, as compared to 69.32% in Colorado. This came in a year where we experienced tremendous growth and will serve as a good baseline for the coming years. We have outperformed the state average year after year. We have also mirrored the results of the Elizabeth School district as a whole. But we have more work to do and are continually trying to improve our classroom instruction with the goal of having the highest level of performance possible.
This second chart represents another local elementary school. They performed at a rate of 60.27% proficient on TCAP reading compared to the
69.32% Colorado average. They are not above the state average at this time.
Comparatively speaking, Legacy Academy has more students scoring proficient or advanced in reading. You might be surprised to learn that the second school scored higher on a non CDE website that offers up a “grade level” to schools. In fact this particular school scored nearly 300 spots higher.
The answer to this is found in the growth model. In the third graphic you will see that Legacy Academy’s Median Growth Percentile dropped last year. There are a number of factors for this, one being the increase in student population in various subgroups. Legacy Academy being such a small school has a very small base line for its statistics. As more students move into a school, the scores tend to mediate to the district average. Again, this is something that we are addressing on a day by day basis and we are optimistic that now that Legacy Academy is at full capacity that we will be able to get some really strong data moving forward that will help us in determining which programs are good and successful and which ones need more resources.
As always, I continually encourage parents to do what is best for their students. Speak with your teacher(s) about how things are going in the classroom. Get involved in school and work to help make Legacy Academy a better place. Our staff is here to work with you and genuinely cares about your students. We are doing everything in our power to make sure that your students have a successful educational experience. Please be sure to check out CDE’s Website at http://www.schoolview.org for more data and information.
Have a wonderful New Year!
Our hearts are grieved for the entire Newtown, Connecticut community, especially those of Sandy Hook Elementary.
Legacy Academy is a special community. We are blessed by how many parents volunteer and offer support to our school. It is this support that is the very reason we have a beautiful place to send our students. You can help us keep the school safe by being sure to follow all of our standard safety procedures when you are in the building. In addition, be sure to report anything unusual to the authorities or a member of the Legacy Academy team. Your children are safe and loved at Legacy Academy.
Many hours have been spent each month working with law enforcement, emergency first responders, and the department of homeland security, in an effort to help ensure that our school is as safe as possible. In addition, this year we have hired full time school security to keep an eye on, and patrol the school grounds. In the coming days, we will be re-emphasizing our plans to the entire school staff and will be taking extra vigilance in following our safety procedures.
Parents and children will have some difficult discussions around the events of last week. Below are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists that you can use when speaking with your children about tragic events:
Be a good listener and observer.
Monitor your children's access to news reports.
Emphasize people's resiliency.
Highlight people's compassion and humanity.
Maintain as much continuity and normalcy as possible.
Have family time.
Do something positive with your children to help others in need.
Ask for help if you or your children need it.
Legacy Academy sends its thoughts and prayers to the families of Newtown, Connecticut.
Principal, Legacy Academy
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a ribbon cutting for Dixon Middle School in Utah that had just become the latest iSchool. As I had the opportunity to wander the halls full of press and media coverage and speak to some of the 950 middle school students, it was evident how excited the entire community was to have this program in the school. I observed classroom after classroom of students engaged, and it was an amazing place to be.
I have to say it was a bit of a proud moment for me as well. As I toured schools in Utah that have become iSchools, the influence of Legacy Academy was felt. All of the ideas, lessons learned and training that we have provided over the summer months has been invaluable to the successful starts of these schools. Our model is becoming the standard for technology startups in Utah, Idaho and Florida.
There are great efforts being made in our state as well. Legacy Academy has been helping larger school districts like Jefferson County and Cherry Creek, as well as smaller ones like Elizabeth, Elbert and Kiowa come up with strategies to bring technology into the schools those districts serve. All of the students, parents, faculty and staff of Legacy Academy really should be excited about the work they have done pioneering efforts to change the lives of tens of thousands of students. We are truly leaving a Legacy that is impacting the world around us. I would like to thank all of those that have helped make this possible. Keep up the good and important work!