The Three R’s at Hatch Valley Public Schools
Dr. Toni Hull
Executive Director of Curriculum & Instructional Innovation
Hatch Valley Public Schools
Our vision at Hatch Valley Public Schools is “All Students and Staff Empowered to Succeed!” This year has caused all of us in education to reflect on our visions and how to best keep the progress toward our goals, not just alive but thriving. We have all had to think about the “why” behind what we do in schools every day and how to look at learning differently. With that in mind, in Hatch Valley Public Schools (HVPS), we are moving from a teaching focus to a learning focus.
Learning is an immersive experience with students being at the center and the teachers being the facilitators of learning. The current pandemic has shifted us all to a model where learning occurs in various places and contexts when the teacher is virtually present, and when students are working remotely – a positive outcome from a challenging time. So, what are we thinking about in HVPS? We are using this time to ramp up our focus on the three R’s – not reading, writing, and arithmetic but rigor, relevance, and relationships.
Rigorous instruction is asking students to apply what they are learning. It is about creating and formulating solutions to problems. We are focused on teaching students the skills they need to interact with others, solve problems, think critically, ask questions, and advocate for themselves. When we think of rigor, we often think of just more difficult problems or assignments, but really it is more about asking our students to be the leaders of their learning. To do this, we are moving toward more project-based teaching and learning where students see connections between content and community. I have seen teachers beginning this journey by working together to connect learning activities, using choice boards, and utilizing technology to give students various ways to create and show what they know. From videos to art to audio recordings, our students learn how to use content to apply, evaluate, and create.
Relevant instruction is about connecting learning with the lives of our students and the community. The instructional goals that we are working toward in HVPS center on Career and Technical Education, Agricultural Education, and STEM pathways. All of these connect to our local community and beyond. To achieve the highest level of relevance in the classroom, kids need to see how what they are learning connects to their world and not just their assignments. Through FFA, 4-H, 21st Century Community Learning Center, Ag in the Classroom, High School Redesign, CTE Pathways, Career Exploration, AVID, and many other programs, we are excited to bring our kids out into the community as well as bring the community into our classrooms (even if virtually) to be a part of our instructional model utilizing real-world experiences such as mentorships, internships, and competitive events.
Relationships are the most important focus we have. We are focusing on building a learning culture in HVPS, where everyone is working on their own goals and contributing to the district’s goals. We do this through personalized professional development experiences. Staff can choose from a menu of professional development sessions each week that match their interests, time, and content. Superintendent Chavez continually strengthens relationships by making it a priority for everyone in the district to see their unique role and goals and how they align to help achieve their department, school, and district goals. Our relationship focus extends to the community through community partnerships in both during and after school activities. Additionally, our schools like to build relationships through fun activities such as virtual dance parties, online puzzle competitions, wellness workshops, drive-in parent events, and spirit weeks. Each school continues to build staff culture to support everyone in staying focused on our collective goals.
We have all personally changed over the last seven months, and education has changed too. In our homes, we have shifted our focus to what matters most, and we are doing that in HVPS as well. We are excited about the future and what our students will bring to Dona Ana County, the state of New Mexico, the country, and even the world with our focus on rigor, relevance, and relationships.
The SUCCESS Partnership is a prenatal to career readiness education initiative founded in 2013. The collaborative is supported by a diverse group of over 100 cross-sector organizations comprised of parents, education professionals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, regional partners, and community leaders committed to improving educational outcomes in Dona Ana County. The primary support organizations for the SUCCESS Partnership collaborative are Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, Ngage New Mexico, La Clinica de Familia Family Services, and NMSU Center for Community Analysis.
SUCCESS Snapshots is a biweekly column highlighting the SUCCESS Partnership education initiative in Doña Ana County. Read more at www.SUCCESSdac.org. For more information, or if you would like to be involved, please contact Sommer Mitchell, SUCCESS Partnership Communications Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org”.