ICSD Elementary Education Director Steven Burton said that despite the fact that he is still learning the ropes of his new position, he already has some solid goals in mind for the upcoming year.
“There are a lot of things I’m still trying to figure out,” he said. “But we are working a lot on collaboration between schools throughout the district, PLC’s.”
Burton said professional learning communities have been a district-wide standard for a while now, but that he was hoping to improve the continuity of the program so that students are assessed the same from one classroom to the next.
He said that uniformity throughout the district an important focal point for him at this stage. Strengthening the core requirements, especially in the area of math, is another important goal to help achieve the common core standard the district has agreed to he said.
“So when students transfer from one school to another they are not loosing as many learning opportunities,” Burton said.
Students transferring at the start of the year can make for a crazy first few weeks of school said previous elementary education director Terry Pickett. Pickett, who retired before Burton took over, said there are always calls from the elementary schools asking for guidance, because they have students they hadn't expected and aren't sure where to place them.
“Right now, I’m thinking there have been more people moving in to the area than moving out of the area,” he said. “So, he will be getting frantic calls from principles and from staff asking for more teachers or another section to meet their needs.”
He said this happens every year, and Burton should prepare himself for the influx of stress filled mornings until the kinks are worked through.
Pickett said his 11 years as elementary education director allowed him to grow as a person, because of the amazing people he worked with through the years. He said that Burton was definitely one of those people, and that he believes the elementary schools in the area were left in capable hands.
“He has had experience dealing with pressures that come from all directions,” he said. “He took on a real tough challenge a few years ago when he took on a dual immersion program.
“He took that on and owned it – even facing the possibly of losing staff, because he had to have Spanish speaking teachers to do it,” he added.
Pickett said that sometimes, the job means making tough decisions that are unpopular and making the director out to be the “bad guy,” but in order to improve and move forward, sometimes that is just what it takes.
Burton said he has been a little overwhelmed at times, because he is noticing all of the little things that come along with the territory of being a director – things he hadn’t noticed before. He said it’s a humbling experience, and one he is not afraid of, because he believes he can make a positive difference in the lives of students in Iron County.
“I feel like I have a lot of support,” he said. “And that does help – because it can be intimidating – we have a great support based, and we’re very unified, so I don’t ever feel like I am alone.”
Before taking on the role of director, Burton said he had been the East Elementary School principle for eight years. He said he also worked as an assistant principle a Cedar High School and principle at Canyon View High School for years before moving into East Elementary School.
With all of the years he spent working so closely with the students, he said missing the one on one interaction with the children would be the hardest adjustment of all. He said he has an amazing feeling of accomplishment inside when he runs into a child that he watched grow up, and they tell him about how great they are doing and what’s going on in their lives.
“This is an opportunity to still make a difference for the kids, but on a different level,” Burton said.