Sandy Hodgson – Denver, Colorado … Educators and administrators from Campion Academy, HMS Richards Adventist School, Mile High Academy, and Vista Ridge Academy attended the High Reliability School (HRS) Summit in San Antonio, Texas, January 29-31. The summit, attended by over 1,500 participants, served as an opportunity to collaborate and continue on the path to “Something Better,” the motto for Adventist education across North America.

At the heart of the summit were the keynote speeches and breakout sessions, which provided invaluable insights into the HRS model. The HRS framework is built upon the premise of fostering high reliability in schools through a systematic approach to continuous improvement. It emphasizes the cultivation of a safe, supportive, and engaging learning environment for both students and staff.

Many of the keynote and breakout session speakers were present at our North American Division (NAD) Educators’ Convention this past August. This summit provided opportunities to dive deeper into principles and practices that speak to the mission of Adventist education—a commitment to the redemption and restoration of mankind.

“My time in San Antonio was very encouraging to me,” reflects Erin Johnson, Campion Academy English teacher. “The breakouts and meetings gave me clear and tangible ways to not only be a more effective and engaging teacher but also how to improve the mission and vision of my school.”

Even though each day was packed with back-to-back sessions, Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) educators created time to come together to share experiences, strategies, and best practices as a collaborative team. This time was also to engage in productive discussions within their own schools to underscore the commitment to excellence for the culture that is unique on their campus.

Carey Jordan, principal at HMS Richards Elementary School, was reminded of the importance of fostering a positive teacher team culture. “The training I received helped me become intentional about enhancing collaboration, fostering growth, and creating an environment conducive to the success of educators and students, ultimately strengthening the learning environment for each student.”

By implementing strategies and principles gleaned from the HRS model, these educators are not only shaping the future of their own institutions but also contributing to the broader landscape of education in the RMC and beyond.

Contributing to the broader landscape of Adventist education beyond the borders of the RMC is already taking place. Barely back from San Antonio, a group of teachers from Mile High Academy, along with RMC superintendent Diane Harris and RMC associate superintendent Paul Negrete, were invited to Lincoln, Nebraska, February 6 to lead in professional development for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference educators on the integration of standards-based learning.

These educators shared insights, strategies, and best practices to empower teachers in embracing this approach to learning as directed by the NAD. The collaborative effort between our conferences signifies a commitment to educational excellence within the Mid-America Union.

“It was encouraging and enlightening to work together with RMC teachers and leaders,” stated Casey Prindle, principal at College View Academy in Lincoln. “As our schools are learning about, developing, and implementing Standards Based Learning (SBL), it was incredibly helpful to collaborate with those who have experience.”

Prindle continued, “The RMC team was insightful and reassuring. Coming into the meeting, many educators felt the transition to SBL was confusing or even overwhelming, yet, when the time was done, many felt hopeful about the process and encouraged that this work to better support learning was possible. We are so thankful to our Rocky Mountain colleagues and hope we can work together again.”

The cost to train, advance, and implement strategies for student success in the Rocky Mountain Conference encompasses countless hours of professional development, often pursued outside of regular work hours, as well as the continuous process to review and refine. This commitment demands personal sacrifice, as educators dedicate themselves to refining their practice to meet the needs of their students. Our commitment to the Rocky Mountain Conference allows us to continue to improve Adventist education as we serve the needs of our students.

—Sandy Hodgson is the RMC education assistant director. Photos by Carey Jordan, Sandy Hodgson, and Diane Harris.