OURAY – The Ouray School Board will hold a special meeting on Monday, June 10, to discuss options in moving forward to negotiate a new contract with kindergarten teacher Rebecca “MonkE” Hazen.
“We are going to discuss her future employment status, and we definitely have some ideas,” said Ouray School Board President Mike Fedel earlier this week. However, he cautioned, “Nothing is a done deal until it is a done deal.”
Hazen’s future at the school was uncertain as students were released for summer vacation a week ago. Ouray School Superintendent Scott Pankow had recommended that her position not be renewed, due to concern over how she was progressing with her alternative teacher’s licensure program.
This recommendation triggered an outpouring of support for Hazen from parents and faculty members. In a single week, the school board held two lengthy executive sessions and an additional open meeting to discuss the matter.
Hazen, who is uncertified but has years of experience working with young children, was hired under an emergency provision in September 2010 after a plan to combine the kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms due to low enrollment had to be hastily changed when an unexpected influx of new students enrolled at the last minute.
Since then, she has embarked on a program to become certified through the state’s Alternative Teacher’s Licensure program, with the guidance of a team of mentors at Ouray School.
The Colorado Department of Education gives teachers two years to complete their ATL. The clock starts ticking after they pass an exam called a PLACE test (Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators). Hazen is one year into the program, and has one more year left to complete it.
If she successfully completes the process by the end of the 2013/14 school year, she will be a certified teacher.
Her current contract was non-renewed at a school board meeting on June 1, however, leaving her in limbo until the board reconvenes to discuss a new contract on Monday.
In the meantime, the state’s Alternative Teacher’s Licensure committee has outlined a number of benchmarks which Hazen must meet in order to earn her teacher’s license in a year’s time.
Hazen has been busy since school got out, lining up the summer course work that she must complete. She will also receive some training in school curriculum, standardized testing methodologies, and early childhood assessments, she said.
“It will be a busy summer. I am super excited to be learning and it’s fun to be the student for a change,” she said.
Hazen said she appreciates the support the community has showed for her, as she has gone through the uncertainties of the past few weeks. “This is the best community in the world,” she said. “It has been amazing, and has helped me to cherish the reason I live here.”
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