Michele Conroy and her second-grade class take time out from carving from a "whale bone" (Dove soap) for a picture. Conroy has spent 19 years at Sunset Elementary School and will be moving to the new elementary school for the 2009-10 school year. Conroy said her first consideration for making the move was the best interest of children.

Photo by David Pressgrove

Michele Conroy and her second-grade class take time out from carving from a "whale bone" (Dove soap) for a picture. Conroy has spent 19 years at Sunset Elementary School and will be moving to the new elementary school for the 2009-10 school year. Conroy said her first consideration for making the move was the best interest of children.

Students' best interest key for teacher moving to new school

Sunset Elementary School is a special place for Michele Conroy.

In fact, she entered her 19th year teaching there in the fall thinking her tenure would sunset at Sunset.

"I really like what's going on here," she said.

Yet, when the 2009-10 school year begins, Conroy will find herself at a different school. Moffat County School District will realign from having three kindergarten through fourth-grade elementary schools, one fifth- and sixth-grade intermediate school and one seventh- and eighth-grade middle school to four K-5 elementary schools and one, sixth- through eighth-grade middle school.

All of the new elementary schools' 18 staff members will come from other schools in the district.

Conroy will be one of the teachers moving to the new elementary school in the former Craig Intermediate School building.

"I looked at what was best for the children in the district and decided I could teach at the new school if they needed me," she said. "It had nothing to do with my current situation at my school."

Conroy emphasized she could only speak for herself, but she is also the co-president of the Moffat County Education Association. She helped represent the district's teachers during the decision process.

"The process was very open with all voices heard and all angles looked at with the emphasis on what was best for the students," she said.

Conroy joined with Superintendent Pete Bergmann, Assistant Superintendent Christine Villard, Construction and Transition Lead Joel Sheridan and Student Services Director Renae Dove to sort through surveys sent to teachers in the district.

"We wanted honest, open and frequent communication," Villard said. "It was a difficult task because change can be hard, but I was impressed by the professionalism of the administrators and teachers."

For the decision process, the committee set up the following five guiding principals: balance of experience in content area (leaving a balance in each school); balance capacity in regard to experience and leadership; teachers' preferences; potential for teaming; and input from board, administration and staff.

All of the teachers were surveyed about their priorities and asked to list their school preferences. Conroy said nearly every teacher was given his or her first priority and the ones who didn't get their first choice were given explanations by Villard and Sheridan.

"I thought Christine and Joel did a great job explaining to teachers that didn't get their first preference," she said.

Bergmann wasn't directly involved in deciding which teachers went where, but he oversaw the overall process.

"From my perspective, it all went very smooth," he said. "We had professional teachers step up to the plate and (they) showed ultimate professionalism."

Kamisha Siminoe will be the principal at the new elementary school. She was hired before this year to be the principal at CIS, and Villard said the plan was that the person hired for CIS also would take over at the new elementary school.

The new school will have about 300 students attending. Conroy will have about 20 of those students in her second-grade classroom.

"Change can be good," she said. "I'm excited to be a part of Kamisha's team."

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