The Needham Elementary Principal is a product of the Durango School District – The Durango Herald
Accelerated student growth is a goal after setbacks caused by COVID-19
Riley Alderton, the new principal of Needham Elementary School, has practically made education in his DNA. The native of Durango is a third generation educator.
Alderton says he always wanted to be in education, and the thought of doing something different never crossed his mind.
“I was born here, I grew up in Durango. So I saw this neighborhood from the inside,” Alderton said.
Alderton graduated from Durango High School where he was also a student teacher. He taught Aztec for two years, saying he had to do so initially because Durango School District 9-R attracts such good teachers that competition for these positions is stiff.
“I was fortunate to be hired at Riverview and loved working there,” said Alderton. “Six years there, then (I) was brought here as an assistant manager and loved working at Needham. It’s a great community school right in the heart of the neighborhood, which is a bit different because some of our schools are really rural and some are in the city.
Alderton said he sees many local families walking or cycling every day and loves to see so many familiar faces.
“I’m just grateful to be a part of this community,” Alderton said.
Alderton said one of his and the district’s main goals this year is to get students back on track after a year of disruptions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alderton brings leadership skills and data analytics experience to Needham Elementary. He also wants to promote an adult learning culture, which he says already exists among primary school staff. Alderton said he wanted to promote a culture of growth for students and staff, for example, in the area of CORE literacy.
Management and staff at Needham Elementary have recognized the profound impact on students caused by COVID-19 with school closings, distance learning and fewer opportunities for in-person socialization. Although Alderton believes that elementary school staff have worked hard to ensure that students receive the best possible instruction during the past school year, he is evaluating the data collected during this period to determine what the school must do to accelerate student learning. back to where it belongs, he said.
“I also recognize that there are some very specific subgroups in our school and in our district that have been missed or are more affected by things like what we’ve been through,” Alderton said.
“We are therefore committed to a specific development of our staff in order to involve language learners, students of diverse, ethnic and multicultural origins. “
The educational leadership of Needham Elementary refers to a text titled “Culturally Appropriate Education in the Brain” to understand brain research and equity in their focus on quality education that touches the whole body. student of Needham. Management is also using a district-wide digital tool called iReady to track data metrics from a higher level, district level, down to a micro level in specific classes and individual students.
“We can get a view of the data for the entire district: school, grade level, class, then student,” Alderton said.
Alderton meets with staff as a team and one-on-one to set goals for student success as well as professional growth goals for staff members. He said iReady data is the basis for determining growth goals for student achievement, such as literacy growth in early learning from kindergarten to grade three.
The minimum growth standard for students at their proficiency level is at least one year of growth in order to keep their early student careers on track. A standard of what Alderton called “stretchable growth” is applied to students who do not reach their current grade level, and the goal is to provide them with a growth target that will eventually help them reach their proficiency level. .
Academic leadership reviews data metrics at the start, middle, and end of each year, in addition to continuously tracked data in the classroom.
Alderton recalled an article he read recently that dealt with the concept of remediation versus acceleration. He described remediation as the idea of curing something that’s broken and said speeding up is a more positive idea which means you’re ready to move forward at an even faster pace. The latter is Alderton’s approach to helping students recover from the challenges of the pandemic.
“My point is that we know kids can have learning losses or deficiencies or whatever people want to call it, but my goal is to define that for them in terms of ‘We are here and we’re looking to accelerate this forward as quickly as possible, ”said Alderton.
As for the challenges that may still emerge from COVID-19, Alderton said he believes Durango 9-R has been pragmatic about its approach to health protocols and safety precautions.
“My mantra with the staff and with the families is that I will do whatever I can to control the things that I have control,” said Alderton.
While a small fraction of students enjoyed online learning, Alderton said, about 98% of the student body preferred in-person learning.
“I’m really excited to have this role and I’m quite humbled,” Alderton said. “When you know yourself and know who has come before, you always strive to make that legacy positive and to continue the good work that other people have done, of which you are truly only the heir.
Alderton said that growing up in Durango made him very invested in the community as a whole. He described himself as grateful to be part of a school that does a good job, and he is thrilled to be part of a unified whole under the learning vision provided by Superintendent Karen Cheser.
“I always want to lead by example when we talk about refining our practice and growing our practice,” Alderton said.