Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko - District 51 Schools - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group

September 15, 2021 Dr. Diana Sirko Season 1 Episode 18
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko - District 51 Schools - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group
Show Notes Transcript

Christi sits down with Mesa County Valley School District 51 Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko to talk about how schools are faring thru the COVID era, the bond measure to build a new Grand Junction High School, her upcoming retirement and more!

If you're interested in learning more about supporting the GJHS bond measure, check out the Citizens for School District 51 Facebook page .  You can learn more about supporting  the district in general by visiting  the D51 Foundation website.

If you prefer to watch your podcasts, check out this interview on YouTube!

Christi Reece:

The Full Circle Podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert, Christi Reece and her team here from the movers, shakers, and characters of the Grand Valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western Slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the Full Circle. Hi everybody. And welcome back to the Full Circle Podcast. I'm Christi Reece, and I'm honored and excited today to have our guest Dr. Diana Sirko , Superintendent of District 51 Schools. Welcome Dr. Sirko.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Thank you. It's my pleasure to be here. Thank

Christi Reece:

You. Um, so , uh, obviously a lot of industries and businesses had a crazy year with COVID in the last year, but I can't imagine what it was like to work with , uh, kids and in the schools and everything that you had to deal with. Can you talk a little bit about what the last year has been like year and a half? Really?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Oh , that's it it's really been 18 months. And I think that in some ways it's gone fast. In other ways it's gone slow and very slowly in the sense of, you know, it's funny, I went back and I was looking at 20 as I was kind of writing down some different, you know , milestones along the way. And certainly when we all went to spring break, you know, in spring two years ago, you expected everybody to come back from spring break, like they always do. And of course, then we were on remote learning. The governor shut down all the schools across the state, which was a wise thing to do. Cause none of us really knew what we were dealing with. We have actually decided at that point to, you know, to take one more week off of spring break, but then it ended up, you know, that it ended up that it being, we were out of school for the rest of the semester, but what was great was our teachers had an opportunity to really experience remote learning our students did. And what people found is that it's great for some students, but not for everybody. And so that was kind of a resolve that we , it gave us for , as we looked at the next, you know, that summer preparing for last school year, we knew we wanted our kids to be in face-to-face learning. We also knew that for some students though, they loved that remote piece. So we , um, you know , opened and kind of expanded , uh , grand river academy so that they would be able to accommodate students. In fact, they started the school year, last year with 3000 students , um, in online learning. And this year we have about 400. Um, and the remainder of students solver , you know, over 21,000 of our students are back in in-person learning. So I think it's been a great, you know, someone who's been a long time educator, 47 years, it's been interesting to experience stuff I had never experienced before. Um , certainly not an international pandemic. I mean, we had norovirus or you have a flu outbreak, but nothing like what we dealt with with COVID. And so I think it's been an interesting experience, but it's also been , um, you know, especially last year just came back so happy to be there. And, you know, we got great support from everyone and, you know, parents trying to help their kids. And if they didn't like, you know, the online program, then they came back to face-to-face and the kids who wanted to go back to online did that. So we had that kind of ability to be really nimble in what students needed.

Christi Reece:

Well , I have two students, so I really appreciated that there were options because we were all struggling with what's the best thing for my child right now and how are they going to learn the best? And it was tough to figure out, but it was nice to have the options.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well, thank you. And you know , and that's it because I know as a parent myself, and of course all my kids are grown and I now have four granddaughters, but, and you know, three of them are in Nebraska. One's an Aspen. So none of them are in our system, but I know they were going through those same anxiety of, well, if they open the schools, do we want to send our kids back? Do we not? You know, I mean, it is , it was a hard time for everyone and still continues to be a little bit.

Christi Reece:

So , um, I know in our industry we experienced a lot of , um, things that, that made some things more efficient. Um, you know, we put in a lot of things into practice , uh, that actually we're going to carry through now to our today's today's business. Um, and we didn't expect that. So w what kind of practices do you think have emerged , uh, that are new and better because of COVID?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

I think we're more efficient with how we do meetings, because, you know, we have , um, three different administration complexes where staff members are actually four . And , um, so some of them are smaller than others. And what we found is when we were having a meeting, everybody would have to get in their cars and all come back to our five where we would meet in the boardroom. But what we've discovered is how often we can be more efficient by just doing a remote meeting, you get your business done. Everybody doesn't have to be driving all over the city. And so I think it's things like that that, you know, that seem to be in some of us felt more efficient in certain models than another. So I think we just learned to be a little bit more flexible about meeting the needs of individual people, but still being able to get your work done.

Christi Reece:

Um, I want to circle back a little bit to your background, because I , um , got to look at your resume, which I'd never seen before, and it's so long, and it's amazing. Um, I didn't realize that you started in the Gunnison school district. That's where I went to high school. Maybe we'd discussed that before, but yeah. Um , in the eighties I was there. And , um, you ha did you grow up in Colorado?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

I did. I was born and raised in Colorado, mainly Denver. Um, I went to UNC, but then my family moved to , uh, Montrose. And so then I spent my summers in mantras and really learned to love the Western slope. And , uh, so I, my first teaching job, then I was actually a park ranger , uh, at blue Mesa for six summers. So my last lucky you, yeah, so it was a great summer job that's for sure. And, you know, over there the best summer jobs are the government jobs. So , um, and then at that point is when title nine passed and I always wanted to be a park ranger and my mom would say, no, girls can't do that. Um, but isn't that crazy. And then title nine passed. And so then when they took applications, I was there at 8:00 AM the very

Christi Reece:

First morning, I'm going to get one of these jobs.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

So I got hired and I worked six summers. My first, you know, three years was when I was still in college and then my next, or , or three years was when I was teaching. And so that would be my summer job. And my husband loved it because, you know, he would, you know, he worked for the park service too . Then he would, you know, just be out doing different things for them, grounds and stuff. And so it was a nice summer job. And then I, my first teaching job was in Gunnison, got hired the day before school, and then we ended up going and teaching in mantras, both of them.

Christi Reece:

Yeah. And your mantras and Hotchkiss. Right. So , uh, and Delta. Yep . So you , uh, naturally could gravitate back to this area and , and know a lot about the grand valley because of your time spent on the Western slope.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

You bet. Well, you know, it was interesting. We ended up moving to Colorado Springs. We were there for about 25 years, but we always knew we wanted to come back to the Western slope. And then , um, I was offered the superintendency in Aspen. So then we moved back over here and, you know, here we are still in the Western slope. Yeah.

Christi Reece:

So , um, congratulations on your upcoming retirement. That's exciting that , um, you get to enjoy life. You're a little bit slower paced starting next year, and we're excited about your replacement Bryan Hill , because we think he's , uh , just a great guy and really has a good heart talk a little bit about , um, that transition period for the two of you. Well, you know,

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well , it was interesting is that, you know, when we were looking for an assistant superintendent, you know, 18 months ago, or actually almost two years, I guess, almost three years ago now, then , um, you know, Brian was one of the first applicants that we had and we had a pretty nice , uh , group of applicants, but he just emerged and kind of, you know, went to the top of the heat very quickly. Cause he's very bright. He has, he's very personable, has a lot to offer. So then, you know, as part of my contract, I need to let the board know each year, whether I want another year added on. And obviously it's still their choice, whether they add it or whether I want to do something else, I let them know that I would be retiring at the end of this school year. So last spring, there were so many superintendencies open and because of Mike's or , um, of, you know , Brian's talents, then he was being recruited. So I think the board was extremely wise for really two reasons. One, you don't want to let a good person like that get away. And two it's so comforting for the staff to know what's going to happen when Diana retires, because they know who their boss is going to be. Cause you always worry when you have someone new coming in, are they going to change everything? What's it going to be like? And obviously Brian was , you know , do whatever changes he believes are necessary, but it's nice for them to know him to feel comfortable with them and know what a competent educator he is. Absolutely.

Christi Reece:

Absolutely. Um, one of the things that I'm really excited about , um, well, there's lots , uh, but the teacher salaries and that w they got a raise this year and that's been a long time coming.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

It's been a long time coming. And I believe they added some time phase to the calendar in 2017 with the mill levy then, and we're able to add a little bit, but we were still woefully behind other districts. So we would get people, you know, especially in your heart to fill positions, you know, it'd be, we'd lose them to Delta or, you know , uh , you know, some of the other

Christi Reece:

Nearby communities, but they just had better funding than that's

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Right. They did better. So we were able last year to do some things and moving some things around me, we really also discovered that we were more richly staffed in some buildings then than is typical. And so we looked at being able to right size our staffs . We want to be careful about not making sure our class sizes. We want to make sure our class sizes are still reasonable, but we were able to do some shifting around, which allowed us to provide an 8% increase and really become competitive on the Western slope. Now ,

Christi Reece:

Did we actually get more money from the state of Colorado

Dr. Diana Sirko:

As well? We did. We got some of the, COVID the one, I guess there's good news and bad news than everything, but we did get the COVID relief funds. And then this year, the Sr funds , which did allow us, them to repurpose those funds to other things. So we could take federal dollars that we receive to be able to use those on salaries.

Christi Reece:

So where are we as compared to the other school districts in the state , uh , on, on that playing field? I mean, are we still behind the other,

Dr. Diana Sirko:

We're still a little bit behind where the, we want to be, because particularly, you know, it's hard to recruit. What's interesting is, you know, back when God was a child, when I began teaching, then there were, you know, 70 applicants for every job. I mean, it was just crazy. Now there's about 70 jobs for every applicant. And so we really, it's very hard anyway to recruit. And when, if you cannot be competitive salary wise , you're just going to get left behind. So even right now, we still have 20 positions open and, you know, are continuing to try to do that hiring. So the 8% was a wonderful step in the right direction, but we're going to want to continue on that. And for instance, you know, if we've had a position open, like an admin position, we have to really think about, do we really need that because those dollars could go towards teacher salaries.

Christi Reece:

Oh gosh, that's tough, tough work that you all are doing. And so thank you for that. We, we have been reading in the paper. I have not been attending the school board meetings, but we've had some, some rowdy meetings as of late. And I know that's hard for you and the rest of the school board. Um, and I was reading a really interesting article in the New York times and I have a part of it pulled up here. I just wanted to take a look at my notes. Um, so we're talking about , um, how , um, schools have long been battlegrounds for America's culture warriors on issues ranging from sex education, disease, segregation, public prayer, to evolution, to the pledge of allegiance. Uh, cultural cage matches are frequently fought on the backs of local schools with board members, educators, and students too often caught in the fray. I thought that was a really interesting take on that. And , and I think we have to remember that this is it's not new , uh , that things are getting played out in schools because people are worried about how their children are being educated and who's teaching. What, but how do you , um , address the decorum in the school board meetings?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well, it has been interesting. I think that the fact that people have been going through this for 18 months, I think there's an overall fatigue level. People are feeling. I think people felt like, oh, once the vaccine came along, then that should help and things will get better. And then the variants have shown up. So I think part of it's just a reflection of people's overall frustration level, but I do always feel especially bad for our board members. They're volunteers. I mean, yes, they're elected, but they're not paid for their position. So it does seem, you know, kind of certainly inappropriate for them to be the receiver of that anger and frustration. But I do know that we represent a lot of kids over, you know , 21,000 students. So we know that there's going to be some families that are not pleased with everything that we're doing. And a lot of people come in, sit down and have a good reasonable conversation. I think that it's just been harder to do that right now. And it is somewhat comforting to see it happening everywhere.

Christi Reece:

But you know , we're not the only district that's experiencing that. Yeah. And you can't please everyone. I mean, as we in every industry, we struggle with that. We'd love to please everybody, but we can , somebody is going to be upset about a decision that you make and you still just have to make the best decision you can make

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Most definitely. And the things such as critical race theory. And I can tell you as someone who's been an educator for 47 years, I have never seen critical race theory taught in any public schools and certainly not occurring here. We've tried to help people say it's not in the Colorado content standards, but spend interesting topics such as that, that have kind of come out of nowhere. And so you're kind of thinking, well, where that about, but I think it may have happened somewhere else. And then people kind of pick up on that. I think people want a great education for their students. They want them or their kids. They want them to be safe. So I think part of it's just that overall fear about all of this. Um, but, but obviously you want us to reflect for our students and model for our students to be able to disagree in an agreeable manner and to raise those issues constructively, you know, we have a back to school texts , taskforce, you know, keeping kids safe, school task force . And we have a lot of people in there who participate in those board meetings, but they also are very, are able to really reflect and give those perspectives in a real constructive manner. So I think the majority of our parents will be able to do it. I think they kind of get caught up in the moment and their own frustrations with that .

Christi Reece:

Certainly a frustrating year for a lot of parents and , um, a lot of unknowns. And I think that , um, everybody's , uh, trying to be civil, but you're right. I think there's just sometimes things boil over. So , um, everybody who's listening and watching, thanks for being kind to our school board members. They work hard and our administration and staff and teachers, everybody there working for the good of the kids. Um, let's talk about , uh, the new grand junction high school bond measure, because I know that's a top of list for projects for this year.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

It really is. And, you know, as you know, in 2019 we had an election that it really only failed by about 300 votes, but it only takes, yeah, it was very heartbreaking because it's so needed. And you know, there's been some great articles in the paper about the fact that the building was built in 1956 and the district's done a good job because sometimes people will say to me, well, how come the district has kept it going? Well, they have, but there's only so much you can do with the building at that age. And I don't think they realize the amount of wear and tear a building could get with 2000 students in it. And in a given time, 1600 right now, 16 to 1700. And so I think that it's definitely needed. And the other thing is it's, you know, they're in the center of our community. So I think it ends up for many people, if you're new to the area and trying to explore whether or not you want to come here and move your family here, it's just a strong statement about what do we value as a community. So obviously we're really excited to , you know, with the prospect of having a new high school and hoping that our voters can get as excited about that as we are.

Christi Reece:

I hope so too. We're big supporters here at the Christi Reece Group and we think it needs to happen because we see a lot of people come look at property here and say, I don't know about your school system as far as, you know, what you all value. I mean that grand junction high school is pretty rough. And so we, we see it as a huge need and a huge , uh, attribute to our community to have a new school.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Thanks. Well , we certainly appreciate the donations that Christi Reece has made. It's made a big difference, but I think it's just, like you said so far, we're getting a lot of support from people. So I think it's hopefully something that whose time has come because the need is certainly out there.

Christi Reece:

And I think from my perspective, I just see the longer wait, the more money we waste in that building, because it's going to have to be replaced before too long. I mean, the time is now, but the more we just put band-aids on their expensive band-aids , it's not just a couple of hundred dollars to patch something up. I mean, every time we do something to that high school, it's thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. So yes . So , um, uh , right now, what is the process for that , um, timeline? Are you all out giving some speeches and presentations and

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Yeah , we are just become that process and going through and doing presentations so we can help the community and get any of their questions answered. We have some renderings and, you know , uh , our architects have put together some drawings to show us sort of a , you know, what this could look like. And that's nice for people to be able to visualize what that new school will look like. And I think it is great for kids too, cause it brings it to life for kids to see those. Our teachers are wonderful about providing feedback and saying, we really need this. There don't forget we need that there , you know, that kind of thing. So it's really been a nice community process where staff, students, and teachers , um , have all participated in creating those diagrams and,

Christi Reece:

And the success of the Orchard Mesa middle school and the financial aspect of that project really, I think is , um, a great example of what you all can do with grand junction high school. I'm sure that's being talked about a lot.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

I think we were able to really, you know , uh, Tim foster has helped us really overseeing the committee when we first got started , um , having, you know, built a lot of things on CMUs campus who had said, I think we can salvage this. I think we can, can't salvage that. So it's been great to have that other perspective. And certainly we have a lot of knowledgeable people from the community who are, you know, weighing in. And, but as you said, orchard, Mesa middle school is such a great example of what can be done when people work together on behalf of her students. So we have, you know , [inaudible] is the architect. They did Orchard Mesa middle school on there. They're working on Grand Junction high school,

Christi Reece:

Great local firm . Yeah, that's great. Let's talk about the free school lunch program because there's a lot of need in our community.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

There really is, you know, on any given year we have 50% of our students on free and reduced lunch. So the federal lunch program has always been a really important part of schools and their ability to serve the needs of our students. But last year, when the pandemic really got going, then the fed said, okay, all kids, 100% of kids will get free breakfast and lunch. And so then they, this year, they surprised us by extending that program through this year. So we're hoping, obviously that'll keep up for awhile cause it makes a tremendous difference for all of our families. And so that's been a real godsend because we make sure that they have breakfast as well as lunch. And as you know, we have our lunch lizard that goes around all summer and all during the school year to make sure all students get that breakfast and that lunch. And what's wonderful is all a parent has to do is say, I've got four kids. They're going to get four bags. That'll have today's lunch and tomorrow morning's breakfast in it. And then there's of course some that are, you know, more of a hot lunch type style at some schools. But the nice thing is, it's just incredible. The only thing I want to just remind people out there who may be listening is that, you know, kids who have free and reduced lunch also get their fees waived for athletics, for different textbooks, different pieces. So the , the great thing about the free and reduced lunch has been that lunch and breakfast and lunch, but that the one disadvantages parents don't always let us know that they would qualify for free and reduced lunch. So we want them lumped still fill out that form. Your child will still get lunch, but then they also may have some of their fees waived and other things that we can do

Christi Reece:

You do for them. That's really nice because I know, you know, when I was in high school , um, I think the school paid for almost all of our uniforms and things like that. If you wanted a leather jacket, you paid extra, but , um, the school supplied so much and that has changed a lot. And some of that stuff's really expensive. I know , um, my husband is a cross country coach at Palisade high school. And you know, some of those kids can't afford shoes to run in and , and that's not a whole lot of equipment, but a pair of shoes, a good running shoes are expensive.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well, the district 51 foundation really helped a lot with school supplies. But like you said, the other gap we still have is what about the kids who can't get that, those special shoes? Because certainly as we know, we offer so many different, great sports and different activities for kids, but that's also a lot of specialized equipment out there around that, whatever that sport.

Christi Reece:

Well, that's a great program. I'm excited about that. Um, could we talk a little bit about , um, the COVID policies and the in , in the schools , uh, going forward for this year? And , um, I know that there was a lot of discussion about the mask mandates and seems like people are pretty happy with , uh , I mean, like we said, not everybody's going to be happy with every decision, but kids are excited to be there without masks for the most part and the kids that are , um, feeling like they need to wear them can wear them and they're not being ostracized or anything like that. Is that correct?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well , I think for the most part, I do hear from some parents that they feel like their child feels like they're made fun of by other kids, if they're wearing a mask. And what we've tried to do is say we won't tolerate mask bullying, but also kids, sometimes aren't comfortable telling on one of their friends. So I think that's been the most controversial part of this school year. You know, the CDC in may last year said, you know, masks it's time for, you know, kind of getting back to normal and not, you know, requiring masks. And so we really had adopted or had really put together that policy of saying it would be a personal choice because we knew some families would still want that that's not been well received by our community. I hear daily from people who really feel strongly that we should be requiring masks. We have about 130 cases right now of COVID across the school district. And what we found is, you know, some people say masks don't make a difference, but I will tell you that one of our policies is when someone in an elementary classroom test positive for COVID, then all the students in the classroom have to wear masks for 14 days. And at one point we had 29 classrooms. That was the case. And then those kids all wore masks for 14 days. And then at the end of that only four students in the 29 classrooms tested positive for COVID. So that's some pretty good empirical evidence that masks do make a difference. So we're really looking carefully. And then as you know, CDC switched gears and middle of the summer and then has said we should be requiring masks. And I think that's due to the variant and now we've picked up another variant. So, you know, we meet with the health department and talk with them regularly about this. We look at what's happening across the state. So each week we re evaluate it, we have our keeping schools open taskforce .

Christi Reece:

You really have to look at it every week, don't you and see what the numbers are and what the protocols are.

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Yeah. Because the last thing you know , that you want is for kids to be in any way, disadvantaged by any of our policies or procedures. So it's hard because some kids feel like they can't breathe. If they have to wear a mask, others feel like they feel safer with their mask. We thought making it a personal choice would kind of even that out. But because of the fact that kids aren't always, you know, the kids pick on each other sometimes. And so we feel like maybe it's easier to require everybody. We're just wrestling with that one right now.

Christi Reece:

So , um, is that something you feel could change at any time during the school year?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

It certainly could in our policy and the procedures we put out for families, there's a nice bold letters. If the situation changes, these, these, you know , guidelines may change and this may be one of them and that, you know, some parents would be very upset by that. Others would be very relieved by that. So that's, that's the hard part. I hear , um , pretty avidly from both sides. So we'll continue to monitor the situation , um, because the bottom line is keeping our kids safe and making it safe to come to school every day , because we also hear from other parents, if you require masks, I'll pull my child out and we obviously want to keep them with us wherever we can. Um ,

Christi Reece:

I do not envy you and the , and the school board and making these decisions. That's really tough. Um, where do you see Mesa county in five years? I mean, obviously you haven't had a huge long tenure here in the grand valley, but I think you've made some really positive changes and brought some stability to , um, the position and to, to the people that felt like , um, maybe things were being mismanaged before. I think you're well-respected here. And what do you think your legacy is going to be and where do you see the school district five years from now?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well, you know, I think first of all, with, you know, Brian's leadership, things will go, well, it should be able to just keep rolling on the way it has. We have outstanding leaders, we have good principals . We have, you know , strong teachers who work hard on behalf of our kids. And I think, you know, I got here and into the community in 16 and started in the school district in 18. Um, I just think we have a good pathway moving forward, but, and certainly I like to take credit for some of that, but it really is all of us together and people are having a vision, how they wanted things to , to change and, and certainly the support of our community to do that. So we've gotten, you know , great support our D 51 foundation gets a lot of support and that helps us to buy materials and do things, you know, for schools. And so I hope we can stay the course with that. And I think it will only continue to build and move forward. Cause I I'm sure, you know, just as each year we have new things we add because we think this would be great. We've done so much. The 2,017 million made such a difference in being able to buy up-to-date , you know, educational materials and books. So those have really taken hold and made a big difference. So it really, as I say, it takes a village and it was really everybody working together, the community saying, here's what we want. You know, we did a draft strategic plan and then unfortunately the, you know , COVID kind of hit so we didn't get to finish it all, but it did give us a chance to hear from the community on what they wanted.

Christi Reece:

Um, obviously , uh , in some of the other needs assessments for other schools , um, we're focusing on grand junction high school because part of the issue with getting the bond passed, we felt last time was that there were too many issues in , in one bond. Um, and so just keeping it simple this time, just grand junction high school, but that doesn't mean that other schools don't have needs. What are some of the other needs that you see , um, that will have to be addressed in the future in the next few years?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Well, certainly, you know, central high school , um , needs some work on its back wing on a snorkeling . And one of those things there too is it's not handicap accessible . So that's a , has a third story. So for students taking a class on the third story and their hand in there, and they're in a wheelchair, they can't get there if it's not an elevator. So in other words, we need to make that building handicap assessable. The other thing is the area of the growth in Fruita is great. And while we did add some space, when, you know, with dollars left from the 2017 mill levy, it really needs to be addressed in terms of adding a back piece to , um, fruit of middle school so that we can add about 20 to 25 additional classrooms, maybe more.

Christi Reece:

And what about security measures? District-wide how are we doing on that?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

I think we're doing pretty well, but there's always more that can be done up. You know, you always feel like, okay, we've got this in pretty good shape. You know, Tim Leon's our head of security and he has his staff well-trained we certainly have a partnership with the police department and I'm a Sheriff's department and they're very good about responding, but I think we, there's always more that can be done because unfortunately crime also has changes that happen with it and it gets more complex as there's more things available out there. So I think the safety pieces are something we'll continue to have to update and upgrade just as the times change. So will the equipment that we need to do to address that?

Christi Reece:

Um, well I think that's all the topics that I had written down that I wanted to talk about today, but I wanted to ask you if there's anything that you'd like to share, because I know a lot of time you're just being asked questions and questions and questions, and you're answering so many questions all the time. Is there anything you'd just like to chat about or share with our listeners and Watchers about , um, grand junction or the school district or your last year here as superintendent?

Dr. Diana Sirko:

You know, I've just really enjoyed it, a great deal. I, you know, I was working at CMU and teaching in their master's program for people wanting to be principals. You know, when I first retired, that's what I was doing and I enjoyed that a great deal. But when I had the opportunity to come to the district, I really enjoyed it and I'll get all choked up when I talk about it. But , um, you know, I appreciate our staff for all they're doing under difficult time .

Christi Reece:

Yeah, well that's okay. Understandable

Dr. Diana Sirko:

Great though, to get to, you know, I watch, you know, I go to a lot of student events and that's what kind of fills my bucket and helps you feel great every day to go back to work. But I just greatly appreciate, we do get, I mean, even though you see the people who are frustrated and they're allowed to come tell us that, but you know, I think you see those kinds of things, but people also tell us lots of great things. And I get a lot of sweet notes from people about how much they appreciate their kids being in school and how things are going in the district and the new programs. And, you know, and we have the new P-TECH programs in so many of our schools and, you know, like the grandchildren high school last year, kids got 1400 credits and kids across the system last year, got over 800 certificates from WCCC soca , finished school walking right in and getting a welding job or, you know, other type jobs, you know, medical assistant type positions. So it's just great to see the things going on. And it's just , uh , been a real pleasure to get, to watch that and watch the district continued to grow and develop

Christi Reece:

Well, you obviously have a passion for kids and making their lives better. So we appreciate you, Dr. Sirko, thank you for your service. And , uh, we wish you the best of luck we'll see you before you retire, but I'm really excited for you and , uh , all the good things to come, including the passage of the bond for grandchildren have fingers crossed. That's what we need that's for sure. Okay . Thank you. And thanks everybody for watching and listening. Uh , if you'd like more information about the school district, we'll include some links , uh, and also I think an email where you can be contacted because you answer a lot of emails. So thanks everybody. And we'll see you next time on the fourth full circle. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks for listening. This is Christi Reece signing out from the Full Circle Podcast.