Leadville News – October 15

Book Tour, Author to Visit CMC 

Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, author of “Fig,” a 2015 National Public Radio Best Book selection, and CMC faculty Kimberly Harding, author of a workbook, “Ascend and Transcend,” will give free presentations at seven CMC locations this month. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this presentation of the college’s annual Common Reader.

181010 FP CW common reader fig

“Fig,” a national award-wining novel by Colorado-based writer Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, is this year’s Colorado Mountain College Common Reader selection. It tells the powerful and provocative story of a daughter coping with her mother’s mental illness. Schantz and Kimberly Harding, CMC faculty and author of an accompanying workbook, will give free presentations at seven CMC locations in October to CMC students, faculty, staff and the community.

Schantz’s book, which won the 2016 Colorado Book Award in the young adult category, tells the story of a girl named Fig. The novel is an often-painful portrayal of Fig’s struggles with her mother’s mental illness and the lengths to which she must go to handle the ordeals — real and imaginary — thrown her way. 

Harding’s accompanying workbook is among the initiatives funded by a multiyear grant from the Colorado Health Foundation that focuses on developing the most effective services to support students in areas of mental health and disability services. The workbook is a hands-on tool designed to explore “Fig” at a deeper level, as well as to facilitate personal growth and success. Harding will moderate the presentations, based on the workbook, with insights from Schantz. In case people have additional questions or concerns, support services from the college or local agencies will also be at each presentation.

According to “A Strategic Primer on College Student Mental Health,” by Louise A. Douce and Richard P. Keeling, “About 70 percent of the students who use counseling services at their college or university report that their personal problems have had an impact on their academic performance, and 20 percent have considered withdrawing from school because of those problems.”

“We applied for this Colorado Health Foundation grant because we recognize that mental health and mental illness are critically important to our students, employees and communities,” said Lisa Doak, assistant vice president of student services at the college. “CMC contracts with local mental health agencies to provide support to our students and employees, but we want to do more. Opening that discussion is one reason our Common Reader committee chose this book last spring.”

181010 FP CW common reader fig schantz

Sarah Elizabeth Schantz is the author of “Fig,” Colorado Mountain College’s Common Reader and a national award-winning novel about a daughter coping with her mother’s mental illness. Schantz and CMC faculty Kimberly Harding, who wrote an accompanying workbook, will give free presentations at seven CMC locations during October.

Schantz is primarily a fiction writer living outside of Boulder. She teaches creative writing at Front Range Community College, and her short stories, lyric essays and poetry have been published in literary journals such as “The Los Angeles Review,” “Hunger Mountain” and “Third Coast,” among others.

From Oct. 16 to 25, Schantz and Harding will give author talks at the following Colorado Mountain College locations: Breckenridge (Oct. 16), Leadville (Oct. 17), Steamboat Springs (Oct. 18), Rifle (Oct. 23), Aspen (Oct. 24), Morgridge Commons in downtown Glenwood Springs (Oct. 24) and Vail Valley at Edwards (Oct. 25). All author presentations are at 7 p.m. except for the CMC Aspen presentation, which is at 10 a.m.

Copies of “Fig” and the “Ascend and Transcend” workbook are available at the front desks at CMC Breckenridge, Rifle, Vail Valley at Edwards, Leadville and Aspen; at CMC campus libraries at Spring Valley and Steamboat Springs; Garfield County libraries; and through CMC’s virtual library at https://library.coloradomtn.edu/home/vl.

The college is also sponsoring an art and creative writing contest. All CMC students and community members are invited to participate. The submission deadline is Dec. 3, and cash prizes will be awarded for the top entries.

For more information on the Common Reader program, or the art and creative writing contest, go to coloradomtn.edu/commonreader or call 800-621-8559.


Leadville News – October 14

High School Finance Class Recognized

By Kate Bartlett, Lake County School District

Lake County High School was recently named a Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) Gold Standard School. In order to qualify for this distinction a high school must require all students take a standalone, one semester personal finance course in order to graduate. LCHS is one of only twelve schools in the state to receive this distinction.

Personal Finance Teacher Karl Remsen

This personal finance course, currently taught by Karl Remsen, covers a variety of topics to help prepare students for their financial future. The goal is to cultivate financially literate citizens who are able to make decisions with their money. The course units are budgeting, checking, saving, investing, credit and debt, taxes, and insurance.

During the course the students take part in two national simulations: the Stock Market Game and the Budget Challenge. Some key projects that students complete during the course are to create a complete budget based on a realistic salary and expenses, choose a checking account that best fits their preferences, decide how to allocate a 401k, and create a personal financial plan. The class is taken by most students as a junior or senior.

“I love teaching personal finance. The students ask great questions and are always interested in learning more about the world of money,” noted Mr. Remsen. “I also think that many adults could benefit from the material I teach in my course.”

Business management professionals present at the Lake County High School Career Fair last week. Photo: Leadville Today

Reading: It’s Number One!

By Joyce Rankin, Colorado Board of Education

Joyce Rankin

Colorado Board of Education Rep. Joyce Rankin

I pointed out in my July column that teachers have many responsibilities. For example, understanding technology, suicide, depression, mental illness, bullying, drug use and provide sex education, and safe schools.  They also monitor breakfast and lunch programs and, oh yes, did I mention math and reading? But if reading and math aren’t the highest priority, how are our Colorado students performing on assessments? According to the 2018 English, Language Arts (ELA), or reading test, we’re not doing well. The Colorado Measurement of Academic Success (CMAS) ELA scores for third graders show that only forty percent are reading at grade level. Research has shown that students who cannot read by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. And according to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 70% of all incarcerated adults cannot read at the fourth grade level. They lack reading skills necessary to hold down anything but lower paying jobs.

Reading is at the core of learning and our legislature recognized this in 2012 when they passed the READ Act. The READ Act was to ensure students in grades K-3 were getting the help they needed to read at grade level when they exit the third grade. Grants were made available to help students reach this goal and in the 2017-18 school year 40,533 students with significant reading deficiencies (SRD) were eligible for these grants. The total amount directed at these students last year totaled $33M.

Students show off their hard work at the Celebration of Learning in 2017. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

With the release of the 2018 Colorado test scores in English, Language Arts (ELA) we found that 40 percent (4 out of 10) of our third graders are reading at or above grade level as they exit the third grade. That means sixty percent are not reading at grade level and, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Colorado mirrors what is happening in the United States and it’s been that way since the 1990’s.

There’s still some good news this month. I’d like to shine a spotlight on two schools in the Third Congressional District receiving the Colorado Succeeds Award for Transformational Impact. Awards were based on a data-driven process conducted by an external analyst to select public schools making transformational gains in academic achievement. Only one elementary school, one middle school and one high school in the state are selected.

Carbondale Middle School in the Roaring Fork Valley was the recipient of the Middle School Award, with Jennifer Lamont, Principal. I met with Ms. Lamont last week and she discussed the reasons for their success.

Delta County School District’s Paonia Elementary School was the winner in the elementary category.  Principal Sam Cox spoke with elected officials recently about the pride he takes in his students, teaching staff and community. On the English Language Arts assessment from last spring, his sixth graders scored 81.5% proficient. That translates to 8 out of 10 students at or above grade level.

Both schools impressed me by their administrative leadership and partnership between teaching staff, parents and community. Could this be the secret to success?

Thank you for the honor to serve on the State Board of Education, 3rd CD.

Joyce Rankin, a retired teacher, is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Leadville and Lake County. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol.