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Staff Kick Off School Year with Solar Eclipse Viewing

Lake Hazel Middle School Staff Group Photo

August 22, 2017 – District employees gathered in the Rocky Mountain High School football stadium midday on Monday, August 21 for an all-staff back to school kick off meeting with the solar eclipse as special entertainment. The experience of three celestial bodies aligning, a syzygy, was the focus of the staff meeting.


“We had such fun with the analogies…the alignment of professional learning communities, what you teach in your classroom, what our students demonstrate on common assessments, and their success when they leave us. Total alignment,” boasted Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Ranells to the crowd of district staff.


One of the first lessons Ranells said she learned as a new member of the West Ada School District community was an unwavering dedication to student success through incredible work ethic. “At every level of our organization our people go the extra mile, and then another mile, and then another mile after that.” She shared the engine driving our students toward success is the focus on learning, collaboration and results explored through professional learning communities.

Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Ranells Presenting on Stage  

As these professional learning communities continue to instill themselves in the culture of West Ada School District, Ranells asked staff to accomplish four dreams for the future, overarching goals:


  1. Our students will be advanced in reading, writing, and mathematics across all grade levels, across all subjects.
  2. Our students will graduate.
  3. Our students will go on.
  4. We will elevate our profession.


As the meeting ended and the solar eclipse peaked, Ranells reminded staff of and empowered them with working on the message Jamie Vollmer shared in the 2016-2017 staff kick off meeting.


Staff Look Up Wearing Eclipse Glasses  “Elevating our profession starts with us. When you are out in the public, tell people you meet a story about an amazing thing one of your students did in class today or this week. Describe new ways you are teaching your subject matter. Brag about how smart your kids are. Extoll their amazing accomplishments,” Ranells tasked. “In short, we all need to brag about what we do every single day – because it isn’t that we aren’t achieving the incredible – it’s because all the public hears is the negative. Elevating our profession starts with us. Let’s start.”


Special thanks to Design West, ESI, Kreizenbeck Constructors, and LCA Architects for providing shirts to staff members in attendance. Thanks also to CapEd, Horace Mann, Hewlett Packard, and Swire Coca-Cola Bottling Co for providing lunch and water to attendees.