Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy

NHS principal travels to D.C. for conference


October 13, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Rep. Michael Bennet (left) and Niwot High School principal Eric Rauschkolb sat down to discuss public education while Rauschkolb was in D.C. for a Principal of the Year conference.

Niwot High School Principal Eric Rauschkolb was selected as the Colorado Association of School Executives principal of the year for 2017 and just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. for a national conference.

The principals of the year for all 50 states met for the event, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

“It was a combination of professional development, networking and advocating for public education on Capitol Hill,” Rauschkolb said.

Rauschkolb had an opportunity to meet with Colorado legislators including Rep. Jared Polis and Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet.

“With each of these three gentlemen I talked about the importance of early childhood education,” Rauschkolb said. “And how important school choice is, along with how the St. Vrain Valley schools are providing school choice in an innovative and very effective way. I also talked about the detriment to public education that private school vouchers create.

“Each of those three were attentive and very interested in what I had to say. They’re also big supporters of public education.”

He also had a few minutes of face time with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

“I invited her to come out to see how St. Vrain Valley schools are implementing choice in a way that is great for every single student,” Rauschkolb said.

The St. Vrain Valley School District, Rauschkolb says, is a perfect example of providing choice without using a voucher system.

Each high school in the district has its own focus. NHS has the International Baccalaureate program, Silver Creek has a leadership academy, Erie focuses on aerospace, Mead High School’s focus is energy, and Longmont has a biomedical science academy.

Students can pick any school that they want to attend based on their interests. The district also supports a robust home school program and online classes.

“Students can really tailor their educational experience to their interests and future goals,” Rauschkolb said. “In addition to that, we partner very closely with the charter schools in our district. We share the money we receive through bond projects and mill levy overrides with our charter schools.

“All of those things together really helps every student in our district receive an educational experience that fits their strengths and their interests.”

He said that overall, the networking and exchange of ideas was the most fruitful part of the trip, as he brought home some ways to improve NHS.

“It was a fantastic experience to meet the principals of the year from the other states,” Rauschkolb said, “and to be able to brainstorm with them on how to address the issues of public education.

Courtesy Photo

Eric Rauschkolb (left), NHS principal, with Rep. Cory Gardner in Washington D.C.

“But it was also good to hear the best practices they are utilizing in their own buildings. There are a lot of innovative things schools across the country are doing.”

As for Niwot High School, the 2017-18 year is going really well.

“We are off to a fantastic start [this year],” Rauschkolb said. “Our teachers are crushing it every single day, our students show up well-prepared and motivated to learn. As a matter of fact, four of our athletic teams are ranked in the top two in the state right now. School spirit is at an all-time high I’d say.”

For now, it is back to the grindstone in Niwot as the first semester wanes.

“It was a tremendous experience and I appreciated the opportunity to attend,” Rauschkolb said. “I hope that we can continue to lead Niwot High School to new and better heights.”


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