From Oklahoma to Alamosa,
New School Superintendent Gets Going
By cvlopez | firstname.lastname@example.org
All means all” is a favorite phrase of Diana Jones, the new school superintendent for Alamosa. She uses it to emphasize her point that every student matters and the importance for Alamosa teachers, staff and administrators to embrace it.
Jones arrived a few weeks ago from Edmond, Oklahoma, where she worked for Deer Creek Public Schools since 2010, most recently as an assistant superintendent. Prior to Deer Creek, she worked for Edmond Public Schools going back to 1990.
She had been looking for a superintendent position to continue her own professional trajectory when the Alamosa School Board hired this summer. Now moved in and as settled as anyone can be when they first come into a new state and new area, Jones is spending her days listening, learning, and figuring out what’s been working and how to move the schools into the new academic year.
“It’s been extremely busy, but exciting at the same time. We’re obviously wishing there were more hours in the day,” she said. In addition to Jones, assistant superintendent Luis Murillo is new to his role and at the superintendent’s side as they navigate a new school district together. Murillo was principal at Center High School and has worked for Alamosa schools in the past as a school counselor and middle school teacher.
“Right now we’re just trying to listen and learn, and for me I’m trying to take in all things Colorado as well as how we do things here in Alamosa. Asking a lot of questions and always assuming positive intentions and trying to figure out how things work and why we do things as we do,” Jones said.
One of the most pressing items has been Alamosa School District’s COVID-19 guidelines. Alamosa schools open Aug. 23, and the Alamosa School Board earlier in August adopted a reopening plan that emphasizes what’s become standard operating procedures for schools — handwashing, sanitizing, social distance measures, seating charts, and in the case of Alamosa, testing and COVID-19 symptom monitoring. The school board made masks optional to wear to the chagrin of some and to the delight of others. It also emphasized the importance for students and employees to stay home if they are sick.
Jones pushed for a survey of school district households to ask about mask wearing, and the school district sent out a survey the week of Aug. 9 asking families for their opinions on masks. She also is pulling together data that shows vaccination rates among school district employees and
Alamosa School Board
ALAMOSA, CO – Alamosa is beginning to prepare for its Alamosa School Board election in November. Five of seven school board seats are up for election this year in districts 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7. Those who want to run for the school board must file a petition by Aug. 27. Candidates must have lived in the school district for at least 12 consecutive months. A person who wants to be a candidate has to file a written notice of intention and a nomination petition signed by at least 50 eligible voters. Nomination petitions are at the district office, 209 Victoria Ave.
students to see how the school district fares.
If a local mandate from either Alamosa County or the city of Alamosa or the state of Colorado came into effect, Jones said she would push the school board to adopt compliance.
Her real interest is having Alamosa maintain in-school classes for the entire school year. Students staying in the classroom for a full year is the most important thing Alamosa schools can achieve, she said. She knows students who are vaccinated don’t have to be quarantined unless they too are exhibiting symptoms of COVID, and will continue to make vaccine clinics and COVID testing a standard for Alamosa schools.
“I’ve chosen to be vaccinated but I also have had a friend who’s been in the hospital who’s been vaccinated. That’s the frightening part of this, it’s an unknown. So I want to follow the advice of professionals. I have my doctorate but it’s not in medicine.”
Alamosa also runs a separate fully online school that students can register for and attend. It’s the hybrid model of students in the classroom one day and week, then taking classes virtually another day or week due a COVID outbreak that Jones wants to avoid.
An assessment of where students are in their learning, particularly after the past two academic years that were interrupted and set back by the pandemic, is an important way to begin the school year, said Jones. She knows there are students who’ve fallen behind, even dropped out, and the school district is making rounds to households through outreach volunteers to encourage registration.
She also knows there are students who, even through the pandemic, have been able to maintain and stay up on the academic standards, and meeting the needs of those students is also a priority.
“It falls in with all means all,” she said of the importance to balance the needs of students who have fallen behind and the needs of students who’ve performance to the grade level.
“Academics is why we’re here, to make sure that all of our students learn and have opportunities for success and a better life, and that is our priority.”