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In Focus

Superintendent Dr. Marc Schaffer provides regular updates about district events and programs that are “In Focus.”

That’s a Wrap on Another Wonderful School Year!

Dear Thompson Community:

I hope you are having a terrific spring season. Soon, the final bells will ring throughout our buildings, and another school year will have officially wrapped up. This has been a fantastic school year, with many things to celebrate and many efforts to look forward to as we look ahead. Before we head into the summer weeks, I wanted to highlight a few of the key items from 2023-24:

  • Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball opened its doors to students for the first time this past fall. The school is a consolidation of the former Mary Blair Elementary, Monroe Elementary, and Conrad Ball Middle School communities.
  • A “wall-breaking” ceremony was hosted for “The Landing,” a new regional shelter that will host unaccompanied youth from throughout our community. Located at the former Monroe Early Childhood building in Loveland, the new shelter is currently under construction and is targeted to open later this year.
  • Crews worked hard this school year to wrap up some of the last remaining projects from our 2018 bond program. By utilizing grant awards, bond premium, earned interest, and other key steps, the district was able to increase its $149 million investment into over $208 million in project development and improvements.
  • Turner Middle School’s Jessica May was recognized by the Colorado Department of Education as the 2024 Teacher of the Year. In her role, May has represented Colorado teachers and has done terrific work to help promote the importance of public education.
  • Each year, Thompson School District students earn millions of dollars in scholarships for their educational plans after high school. Among this year’s winners are Loveland High School seniors Kennedy Layne and Peyton Hendricks, as well as Loveland Classical seniors Grace Hilde and Reese Worley, who have all been selected as Daniels Scholar recipients. In addition, Kennedy was also named a winner of the 2024 Boettcher Scholarship, along with Loveland High School’s Egan Bauersfeld.
  • Truscott Elementary School was presented with the State of Colorado’s Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award, and Berthoud Elementary School captured the John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award. The honors were earned based on student assessments completed last spring. Administered each school year, the state’s assessment program is a standards-based process designed to measure student performance at schools throughout Colorado.
  • This year, we expanded our Unified Sports program into the middle schools and hosted our first-ever Elementary Unified Sports Day, where amazing young athletes had the opportunity to experience the excitement of participating in a sporting event.
  • This year, we celebrated yet another significant increase in our graduation rate, with a 2023 measurement of 91.1% – an increase of 3.5% from 2022. The four-year graduation rate in Thompson has now increased each of the past six years.
  • Once again, schools throughout our district celebrated numerous individual and team successes in regional and state athletics and activities.
  • In addition, our amazing high school students again earned hundreds of college credits, many industry credentials, and a large number of certifications as they graduate and move on to post-secondary options in higher education, careers, and the military.

As I reflect upon these key moments from our school year, I am reminded once again of how fortunate we are to have such amazing support from our entire TSD community. None of this would be possible without your gift of time and your dedication to TSD. We have so much to look forward to in the coming months and years, and I am very grateful to our community for taking this special journey with us. Have a wonderful summer, and we’ll see you soon for the launch of the 2024-25 school year.


Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Here in TSD, Connections Matter

Cover graphic for April update from Dr. Marc Schaffer

What is Thompson School District?

This is a question that gets a variety of answers depending on who you speak to. Is it the approximate 15,000 students and their families who we serve? Is it the 2,200 staff members who work hard each day to educate and support students? Is it the system of community support that we’ve established to best serve the needs of our families? Is it the buildings and infrastructure that are needed to educate our youth? Or perhaps it’s all of the above?

Our school district is many things. But I firmly believe that at its core, TSD is about people. It’s about students, parents and guardians, staff, and community members. That is who we are and that is the source of our strength.

We are also a very diverse school district, which adds to our community in innumerable ways. Within the district, approximately 30 languages are spoken by our students and families, helping to create a unique human tapestry of talent and support.

We believe that each student in our school district deserves a world-class education, along with the support that they need in order to help ensure their success. Our entire team also believes that it’s critical that each family and community member in TSD not only feels welcome within the district, but also feels empowered to partner with us on this important journey. One of the ways that we build these important relationships is through our language translation and interpretation program, which is designed to partner with our families in their preferred language. Our team of professionals provides translation services for written documentation across the district and also performs and arranges for live interpretation for parent-teacher conferences and other educational meetings and events. A network of contractors within our community, as well as additional resources, helps to achieve our goal of ensuring that each family in our schools feels connected and welcome.

One of our key focuses in this area has been to identify additional opportunities for us to better connect with our families. New technological improvements are providing some exciting options. For example, the advancement of automated subtitling, along with built-in translation support, is allowing our video programming to reach a far wider audience than ever before. Video conferencing programs are offering this same technology and we are also exploring the potential use of translation devices that can be used at our schools and district offices to assist community members on a one-on-one basis during visits. The growth of artificial intelligence and technological design is moving these advancements at a quick pace and we are confident that our capacity to serve each of our families and community members will continue to grow.

These connections matter. The ability to partner with each of our families and community members at a high level is critical to the success of our students. I truly believe that our diversity is our strength and I am proud of the relationships that we are continuing to build throughout Thompson School District.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of our amazing school district. We could not do any of this without you.


Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

We Value the Opinions of Our Community

Cover graphic for March 2024 update from the superintendent

Dear Thompson Community:

This year, Thompson School District is putting the finishing touches on projects that were designed and created as a result of the 2018 Bond program. On behalf of our students, families and staff, I want to say thank you to our entire community for entrusting us with the funding that was needed to complete these improvements.

In addition to the replacement of roofs, flooring and other maintenance-related items, we were able to create several exciting new opportunities for our families. These projects include the Riverview PK-8 campus in the eastern portion of the district, the conversion of Van Buren Elementary School into a new Ferguson High School building and Thompson Career Campus, the renovation of Stansberry Elementary School into the district’s Early Childhood Education at Stansberry campus, and the consolidation of Mary Blair Elementary, Monroe Elementary and Conrad Ball Middle School into the newly renovated Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball campus.

Thanks to careful utilization of bond premium and earned interest, along with grant support and other mechanisms, we were able to transform the $149 million bond into over $208 million in project work across the district. As a result, not only were we able to complete every task that we had promised to voters, we were also able to finish several more needed projects. None of this exciting work would have been possible without your amazing support. We are tremendously grateful!

While we accomplished many great things with the 2018 bond funding, we also know there is much more work to be done in order to provide each student with the excellent education and support that they deserve. Over the past two years, staff members have been working with our long-range Master Plan Committee and Board of Education to determine our district needs for the next ten-plus years. The community-driven committee has evaluated district needs for deferred maintenance, growth, safety and classroom enhancements.

As part of this process, we are working hard to solicit feedback from our community members on the needs that they see in our schools and how they might best be addressed. A public survey consultant has been retained by the district to help us understand the position of our community. Later this month, we will be launching an online survey focused on our public schools and potential ballot measures for this November. The survey will remain open for two weeks with an anticipated closure date of Monday, April 8.

We greatly value your opinion and we urge you to participate in the survey even if you do not have a student attending school within the district. Please make your voice heard! There will be three ways to participate in the survey:

  1. Visit the district website at tsd.org and click the survey link. This link will be made available later this month once the survey launches.
  2. Some community residents will receive a text message inviting them to participate in the survey. The text message will have the school district logo and a message inviting them to participate.
  3. A group of residents will also receive an email communication from the district with a link to complete the survey.

Answers to the survey are strictly anonymous and confidential. The information that is gathered, along with feedback received during a series of upcoming community forums, will be instrumental for our staff and the Board of Education as options are considered. We look forward to your valuable feedback as we plan for the future of our schools!

Thank you, as always, for your support.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Family and Community Engagement is Where Our Heart Is

Cover graphic for February 2024 superintendent update

The heart of February is the perfect time to illuminate the warmth and spirit of community that blooms in our school district. This month’s letter is dedicated to the invaluable gift of family, school, and community partnerships in TSD, where the authentic friendships between our schools and families have grown stronger than ever.

One standout highlight is the memorable Peakview Food and Family Fair held before winter break. This event brought our children and families together in a celebration of learning and community. It was heartening to witness the joy and enthusiasm of a father and his three sons taking family photos after their haircuts from a local stylist. The more than a dozen community organizations in attendance exemplified the power of partnership, showcasing the commitment of our district to foster an inclusive environment where each person plays a vital role in our children’s education.

Our dedication to engaging with families extends beyond single events; it is an ongoing element genuinely integrated into the essence of TSD’s Strive 2025 Strategic Plan. Our Family, School, and Community Partnerships team has been building and strengthening partnerships with local, state and national organizations to explore and expand the opportunities that bridge education between family and school.

From interactive workshops empowering parents and caregivers with tools to support their child’s learning journey, to fun-filled community gatherings that celebrate diverse cultures, we’re creating spaces where families feel a sense of belonging and actively participate in shaping the educational landscape for their children and Thompson School District.

To assist in this outreach, we’ve created The Family Center at Stansberry, a dedicated engagement center that provides a safe, inclusive space for our district families to learn about what TSD and our community have to offer, while also connecting and networking with other families and accessing helpful resources. Walk-in hours are available Monday through Friday each week and families are also welcome to schedule an appointment with our dedicated staff.

The team is excited about the journey ahead and the momentum we’re gaining throughout the district, most specifically at our Title I schools where we’ve partnered with the Colorado Education Initiative to design and implement promising practices that help address barriers familiar to schools with high percentages of students experiencing poverty and high mobility. An essential part of this work is the process of building empathy and genuinely getting to know our children and the communities who love and shape them.

There’s a quote from author Toni Morrison that reminds us of why we do the work we do:

“When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for.”

Here in Thompson School District, we are proud of our programs and dedicated staff who work hard every day to support each child within our community. We are incredibly grateful for your support and we hope you will join us as we continue to build these rewarding connections.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Exciting Updates and Opportunities in Thompson School District

Banner graphic for September 2023 superintendent update

It’s hard to believe that our first month of the new school year has already come and gone. These first few weeks of classes were filled with a huge number of events and activities on our campuses. While students were getting acquainted with their new teachers and class schedules, our district also hit several exciting milestones that I wanted to share with you.

This past week, we hosted two special events for our community. After months of planning and renovation, the redesigned and refreshed Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball campus officially opened for students on our first day of school. A special grand opening celebration was held at the campus on September 14, offering families a chance to check out the new spaces and participate in some special opening festivities. Two days earlier, we also hosted an event to celebrate the new expansion project that was completed this summer at High Plains School. The addition features classrooms, a new gymnasium and more space for programs within the school. Both of these projects are significant enhancements to the service and support that we can offer our students. Our project managers and contractors all did a wonderful job bringing them to fruition.

A few weeks ago, our transportation team received some wonderful news: The district has been selected by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as a grant recipient through the Colorado Electric School Bus Grant Program. The award amount, which will be determined soon, will assist the district in converting a small number of buses in its fleet into battery or fuel-cell electric-powered vehicles. Much more information regarding this grant award will be available soon.

Every day, our staff members do an amazing job educating and supporting each of our students. Our team routinely goes above and beyond expectations. We are always looking for unique ways to say “thanks” for everything that they do. Each month, one of my favorite activities is the opportunity to present our “Top of Thompson” award winners as part of our regular Board of Education meetings. The awards allow our staff members to nominate their peers for outstanding service to our students and families.

I am pleased to announce that starting this month, we will be adding an additional category to the set – the “Community Champion Award.” Nominated by school and district employees, this monthly recognition will be extended to a community member, community organization or business entity that helps facilitate the work of our students and staff within our schools and district. We are so fortunate here in Thompson to have the steadfast support of so many businesses and entities across our community. It is my hope that this new award will serve as a fun way to recognize and spotlight these partnerships across the district.

As we head into the heart of the fall season, I would like to remind our community that we have so many activities and events that might be of interest to you. From football and volleyball games to fall music concerts and plays, the talents of our incredible students are on full display, and we invite you to be a spectator or an audience member. We are also always on the lookout for those who would like to serve as a substitute teacher, a bus driver, a nutrition services worker or even a volunteer within our schools. Please check out our website at TSD.org to see how you can get involved or even apply for a part-time or volunteer position within our district.

As always, we are grateful for the support of our TSD community, and we thank you for your ongoing engagement and interest in the success of our students. Have a great September!

A Message from Superintendent Dr. Marc Schaffer

Students gather around, placing hands on soccer ball in field
Profile photo of Dr. Marc Schaffer

Welcome to the 2023-24 school year! I hope you have had a great summer. The first days of school are among my favorite of the entire year. It’s an exciting time for students, families and staff as they get to know each other a little better and begin a new educational journey together. There is a tremendous amount of tradition that surrounds the first days of school and it goes a long way to help create unity and partnership throughout the community. This year, we have some exciting changes that will be taking place, and I want to take a moment to share a few of them with you:

We are extremely excited to officially open Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball, a PK-8 campus that consolidates the school communities of Monroe Elementary School, Mary Blair Elementary School and Conrad Ball Middle School. The middle school received an extensive renovation over the past several months and we know that our students and families are going to love the building as well as the new programs that have been designed.

A new expansion at High Plains School is opening as well, featuring new classroom space plus an additional gymnasium, performance area and athletic fields. This new space will provide the additional room that is needed to further enhance programs and activities at the school, while also providing additional student capacity.

Thanks to a great community partnership, we are proud to debut a brand new scoreboard at Max Marr Stadium at Berthoud High School. The new scoreboard will provide a greatly enhanced visitor experience for sporting events, activities and future BHS graduation ceremonies.

The State of Colorado’s new “Healthy School Meals for All” program is now officially in place. The program provides free meals for all students regardless of income. Families are encouraged to continue to fill out a district meal benefits form, as those who qualify may be able to receive discounted or waived school and sports fees, utilities support and other benefits.

Design work is currently underway for a Northern Colorado regional youth shelter that will be hosted in the building that previously served as the Monroe Early Childhood Center. Youth homelessness is a significant challenge for our district and region and this project will help to provide some much-needed support. Collaborative partners for the shelter include Thompson School District, Poudre School District, The Matthews House, Thompson Education Foundation, Larimer County and several local nonprofit organizations. The project recently earned grant awards from the State of Colorado in the amount of $4.7 million, and Larimer County has also earmarked $1.5 million in funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. The shelter will have the capacity to serve approximately 25 individuals on an overnight basis, as well as 15-20 people for drop-in support.

As you can see, there is much to be excited about as we return to classes and we can’t wait to welcome students and families back to our campuses. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Wishing Our TSD Community A Wonderful Summer

The final days of the 2022-2023 school year have arrived. It has been a very busy year throughout all of our schools and I am immensely proud of each of our students and staff members for their hard work and accomplishments.

One of the things I love the most about this time of year is the ability to congratulate yet another senior class as they walk across the stage and celebrate their graduation from high school. Our students throughout the district work hard in their academic studies, while also competing in athletics and participating in a number of rewarding activities. Their efforts have led to impressive state and national awards, as well as millions of dollars in scholarships to assist them in their postsecondary education. Ultimately, their success is our community’s success, and I take great pride in watching their excitement as they prepare to take these next important steps in their lives, whether it be furthering their education, entering the workforce, or any other calling that they choose to pursue.

For those students who will be returning to school in the fall, the upcoming summer months will provide a terrific opportunity for each of them to relax, attend summer school, work summer jobs, or take part in other activities. Meanwhile, here in the district, the workload will now shift to some key projects that are underway.

At High Plains School, crews are working hard to wrap up the expansion project that will create classroom space, an additional gymnasium, athletic fields and a performance area. Meanwhile, renovation work will be underway nearly non-stop at the Conrad Ball Middle School campus, as construction personnel work to renovate the site into the new Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball. Students and families at High Plains and Peakview will be welcomed by some exciting new additions and features when they come back to school this fall. Our bond team will also be busy during the summer months completing some of our final projects that were made possible by the passage of the 2018 bond measure.

Not long after the final school bells ring in a few days, many students and families will also be participating in our 2023 summer school program. The classes and activities that are offered provide an excellent opportunity for students to expand their horizons and learn something new in a unique and exciting manner. Our staff members dedicate an incredible number of hours to the design and management of these opportunities – It truly is a flagship program for us.

As I reflect on the school year that is wrapping up, I want to extend a special “thank you” to each of our 2,700 staff members who work so diligently each day to educate and assist our community’s students. Their caring support begins early in the morning as students board school buses and arrive at the schools, and often extends late into the evening through athletic events and other activities. Each staff member fulfills a critical role in the educational process and I hope you will join me in acknowledging them for all that they do.

On behalf of our entire TSD community, thank you so much for another terrific school year. I hope you have a wonderful upcoming summer season. We look forward to seeing you again in the fall!


Dr. Marc Schaffer

Thompson School District

Exciting New Math, Language Arts Materials on the Way for TSD Students

Graphic for April 13 superintendent update

Greetings, Thompson Community:

I hope you’re having a pleasant early spring! With about six weeks left until the end of the school year, it is a very active time here in Thompson School District. The weeks between our spring break and the end of the school year are always extremely busy with students and staff finishing up classwork and hosting a multitude of special events as we approach the last day of school.

On the academic side, students will finish their classes, and as a community, we will celebrate the Class of 2023 as they formally move on to their next chapters beyond high school. This academic achievement takes an incredible amount of hard work from everyone involved, and I wanted to share a few details about what happens in the background to help make it a reality each school year.

Along with having great teachers, we know that one of the largest impacts on student achievement is access to consistent, research-based, grade-level materials in all of our classrooms. Over the past few years, we have been able to adopt consistent materials for our elementary reading and writing courses, as well as our middle and high school math classes.

The adoption of these materials has led to great success in the district overall. This year, we completed two material recommendation processes, with the goal of having these in our classrooms beginning this fall. The process of evaluating materials and determining the best fit for our schools is extensive, and it is something that we take very seriously.

From beginning to end, it takes over a year for a formal recommendation to be advanced to our Board of Education for approval, and the process involves feedback from teachers, administrators, students, district leaders, families, and community members. The district received Board of Education approval for new materials for our elementary math curriculum. We are currently in the process of seeking Board approval for new materials for our English Language Arts curriculum in grades six through nine. 

Beginning next year, we will be using an exciting program called enVision Math in our elementary schools in all classrooms. enVision Math is a widely-used resource that has shown evidence of success in surrounding school districts as well as across the state. It has been a number of years since we have adopted new math materials at the elementary level, and our belief is that this new program will support our teachers as they continue to move each of our students forward in the area of mathematics. 

In addition, pending Board of Education approval, we will be using a resource called MyPerspectives in our English Language Arts classrooms in grades six through nine beginning next year. This program is used in over 2,000 school districts across the country, and it includes both online and printed materials that offer choices for teachers and students. We will support teachers using both of these programs through professional learning and through continued support throughout the year. 

We are excited to continue to provide top-quality resources for our classrooms. Our material adoption process is critical to the success of each of our students, and I am so grateful to all who are working to help ensure that the process goes smoothly as we identify the resources that are the best fit for our schools. Thank you so much for your continued support.


Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Work-Based Learning Offers Unique Opportunities for TSD Students

Graphic with picture of Dr. Marc Schaffer for March update

As we move excitedly toward spring, it’s sometimes hard to believe that summer is also coming quickly. Our students, however, are already looking forward to it, and many are looking for summer jobs. For some lucky TSD high school students, they will be embarking on not just a part-time summer job but also an elevated Work-Based Learning experience through Apprenticeship.

When many of us think about apprenticeships, we’re likely familiar with adult positions in the skilled trades, such as electricians and plumbers. Youth apprenticeship has been steadily growing in our nation and in our district over the past several years. TSD partners primarily with CareerWise Colorado for 2-3 year youth apprenticeships where students earn wages (up to $40,000), industry certifications, debt-free college credit and high school elective credit. Apprenticeship is truly an option-multiplier for students, providing them with the ability to move into the workforce, pursue further post-secondary education, or both! And for business, youth apprenticeship provides a new talent pipeline that can grow with the company and enhances an organization’s diversity.

Since 2019, more than 30 TSD students from all five high schools have participated in the CareerWise program and have worked in various roles such as financial services associate, human resources assistant, bookkeeper, IT support technician, hotel management, manufacturing and maintenance technician in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, construction, hospitality, and education. TSD is fortunate to have hired our own apprentices within our Facilities, Transportation, Innovative Technology Services, and Learning Services departments.

Currently, the district employs six IT support technician apprentices and five future educator apprentices. IT support technicians fulfill a variety of public-facing and behind-the-scenes roles in which students are responsible for the maintenance and repair of student and staff devices, providing customer support, inventory management, software maintenance, and more. As a staff member who works in the Administration Building, I have had my own computer issues addressed by an apprentice. What’s really exciting is that this apprentice recently graduated and was hired out of their apprenticeship for a full-time Technician I position within the department. The program is truly a win-win for both the students and the district.

Thompson’s future educator apprentices are also “earning while they learn” in our early childhood, elementary and middle school classrooms. These students have multiple roles and serve as paraprofessionals, classroom aides, and “junior student teachers.” Future Educators are providing supervision, leading centers, and projects in the classroom, working with small groups on reading and math, grading assignments, and are truly immersed in the day-to-day operations of classrooms throughout TSD. When these apprentices go on to earn a teaching degree, they have an incredible advantage by already having established classroom teaching experience.

As apprenticeship positions open this spring, we look forward to congratulating the students who are hired through the competitive interview process that takes place throughout our northern Colorado region. We are excited to welcome a new cohort of apprentices into TSD as well. We feel strongly that each student should have a variety of post-secondary options and meaningful work-based learning experiences to enhance their career exploration and their future career decisions. We also strive to hire apprentices that reflect the diverse and unique student body of TSD. Where will work-based learning and apprenticeship take you? Interested students, families, and businesses are encouraged to learn more and get connected at www.tsd.org/WBL.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of each of our students and staff members, as well as our entire Thompson School District community.


Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Supporting Each Student on Their Path to Success

A Letter from Superintendent Schaffer cover photo

Greetings, Thompson Community:

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Loveland community celebration at Mountain View High School. The evening was highlighted by terrific speakers, student essays and artwork contest champions, music, dance, and song. The event was special and magical, and for this moment in time, our community once again coalesced around the good and the positive while maintaining hope and optimism.

As the month of February welcomes Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, American Heart Month, World Cancer Day, and School Counseling Week, to name just a few, I take great solace in the fact that there is the potential for continued good and positive, and yes, even love within our community. Thompson School District proudly maintains one of the first educational equity policies in the state of Colorado.

At its most primal level, the policy works to ensure that each of our nearly 15,000 students has access and opportunity to enjoy an educational experience that allows them to achieve and flourish at their fullest potential while seeking to disrupt barriers and obstacles that might interfere with this quest. This policy was put into place for each and every one of our students – not some, and not a few, but for each, every, and all of them.

We must recognize that for some students, barriers and obstacles toward this quest of reaching one’s fullest potential might be food insecurity, housing instability, and/or financial struggle. Other students may have a learning challenge, physical disability, or cognitive impairment. Some students may struggle social-emotionally or even with thoughts of depression, sadness, or self-worth.

We have some students who wrestle with substance abuse while others face challenges with peers, classmates, or family members. Finally, some students are confronted with barriers as a result of language, culture, skin color, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

When our nearly 15,000 students show up each day to learn, grow, experience, and develop, we must meet them where they are and be able to recognize that in order to provide educational experiences, some students carry burdens and challenges that ultimately interfere with their ability to fully engage and be available for learning. As an educational institution and a community, we exist to support students to reach their fullest and greatest potential.

We must, at the same time, create environments and learning conditions that are safe, comfortable, welcoming, and inclusive for each of our students. I see this as the true and ultimate purpose of our Educational Equity Policy and, in many ways, an intersection with the themes within the month of February of love, tolerance, peace, and support.

I have just returned from an educational mission trip in the country of Guatemala. I had the opportunity to join a group of educational leaders and professionals from across the United States and Canada, working together to build a school in a rural town using the sustainable product of recyclable beverage bottles. The experience was eye-opening and provided a unique and authentic learning opportunity for me that helped to reshape my worldview and perspective on many things.

Perhaps the most salient takeaway for me as I apply it to my role as the Superintendent of Schools for Thompson School District is that children in every community have hopes, dreams, and optimism. While we may take for granted material possessions and other comforts, the great equalizers in our communities are schools and education. In this rural town, the building of the new school was a community endeavor. We were joined by students, teachers, and town residents, working side-by-side and hand-in-hand to create the walls and structures of this new school addition.

While language and cultural barriers existed, the group was united around the creation of this school, which will ultimately serve as an institution of learning as well as a place for students to grow and develop into their futures. The joy, excitement, laughter, and sincere appreciation were extraordinarily rewarding and fulfilling for me as I had a hand in helping to create the future for current and future generations of students within this school.

As I circle back to my current role as an educational leader here in Thompson School District, I would like to believe that, metaphorically, I continue to build schools and futures for our current and future students through our Strategic Plan and our Educational Equity Policy. This mission trip reignited my passion and interest in public education and, at the same time, reminded me that schools exist to inspire and develop the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and limitless possibilities for our students.

As the proud Superintendent of the Thompson School District, I believe that our community and families entrust the school district to provide the very best educational experiences and opportunities for our students; I take this responsibility to heart each and every day, just like I know our nearly 2,100 employees do. I am a community member, a parent, and an employee of this school district.

I do embrace the ideals of supporting the whole child as well as working to create learning environments that “Empower students to learn, challenge them to achieve, and inspire them to excel.” These are not just words on a page but our mission and compass within Thompson School District. I wish you all a wonderful February! Thank you for your continued support.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Mid-Year and A Lot of Success

Banner graphic for December 2022 Superintendent update

Greetings Thompson School District Community,

As we approach the mid-point of the 2022-23 school year, we could not be more proud of our nearly 15,000 students, our staff, and our entire Thompson School District community. The beginning of the winter break later this month will signify the conclusion of the first half of our school year, and as such, it serves as a good time to reflect on a few of our accomplishments so far.

This fall, students throughout our district achieved many successes through activities and athletic programs. I continue to be amazed at the level of talent that is displayed across TSD. It was a terrific and rewarding fall semester, and we can’t wait to see what 2023 brings.

In November, Thompson School District was proud to co-present a Mental Health Summit for local professionals to explore the impact of youth mental health issues in our communities. The workshop featured networking, problem-solving, important discussions, student voices, and a variety of activities. It allowed school leaders, counselors, social workers, county and municipal leaders, and community providers to work together to identify and address challenges and barriers.

TSD has also formed a Mental Health Co-Responder Unit, which will help to provide a more effective response to the increasing number of mental health-related calls for service within our schools. The unit, which includes Larimer County sheriff personnel and a co-responder, has already been activated in dozens of calls, completing activities such as conducting welfare checks, assisting students in emotional crises, and connecting service providers with students and families in need.

Significant construction projects are underway at two of our campuses, and I’m happy to report that they are both on budget and on-time for completion next summer. The High Plains School campus in Loveland is currently undergoing a significant expansion, which will provide additional space for students and staff and the capacity to increase program support. Once completed, the expansion work will include new classroom space, plus an additional gymnasium, performance area, and athletic fields.

Work is also proceeding quickly on the renovation of Conrad Ball Middle School into Thompson School District’s newest PreK-8 campus, which has been named Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball. The campus, which will include a consolidated community of students from the middle school as well as Mary Blair Elementary and Monroe Elementary, will open in the fall of 2023.

In November, the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners voted to award a grant to the district in the amount of $1.5 million to assist TSD’s planned project to create a youth shelter at the Monroe Early Childhood building. Students who are currently enrolled in the Early Childhood program at the building will move to a new space that is being designed for them in Peakview Academy. As of now, the district plans to begin renovation work on the Monroe EC building in 2023 after the current school year. The grant from the county is contingent on the district receiving funding that it has applied for through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

As you can see, things are very busy here in Thompson. Our students are succeeding both within and outside of the classroom, and our district continues to build upon its positive image throughout the region. Thank you so much for your continued partnership and all that you do to support our students and families. I wish you a wonderful 2023!

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Giving Thanks for Our Wonderful TSD Community

Banner graphic for November 2022 Superintendent update

Greetings Thompson School District Community,

As the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaches, I want to express my thanks and gratitude for all of the support you provide for our school district community. Our staff members work tirelessly each day to educate and support each student in TSD, and none of our success would be possible without your dedication.

One of the things I am particularly thankful for is the incredible partnership we have with businesses, agencies, and organizations throughout the district who assist us in our mission. Thompson School District is dedicated to supporting not only the academic but also the mental health needs of our students and families.

Mental health is critical to our students’ success in and out of school. Generalized anxiety can affect protective factors, including school success and engagement in extracurricular activities. Situational and clinical depression can contribute to withdrawal from the support of friends, family, and school and community members, as well as struggles with success in school, extracurricular activities, and employment. Supporting our youth in preventing and treating anxiety and depression can increase protective factors and decrease severe mental health concerns.

Our TSD community is committed to strong relationships with our community partners to improve our students’ access to proactive and responsive mental health services. This month, we invited our outstanding community partners to our Mental Health Summit: Eliminating Barriers, Illuminating Partnerships.

Hosted at The Ranch in Loveland, the event was an opportunity for community leaders, mental health providers, and school staff to join forces for a full day of connection and problem-solving. We exchanged information about the many services available in our community and how to access them and identified barriers to services for our students. We also spent more than half the day problem-solving the challenges our community faces.

Participants left the event having committed to bringing about change for the better of our community by eliminating a barrier within their control. It was a special day of networking, information-sharing, and problem-solving mental health challenges on behalf of the children of Larimer County.

Our strong community partnerships with local mental health providers and prevention experts are critical to our layered system of support. We are proud to partner with our families and community members to help each student build this foundation and succeed in their academic, social, and emotional growth.

As we work together as a community to continue this important work, please remember that you are not alone. If you need immediate help, a special service called “988” offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people who are experiencing mental health-related distress.

People can call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one. In addition, you are always welcome to call 1-844-493-TALK (8255), visit www.ColoradoCrisisServices.org, or send a text to 38255 and type “TALK” in the message for additional support options.

Thank you once again for all that you do for each of our students and families. On behalf of our entire district team, I wish you an enjoyable Thanksgiving season.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Highlighting a Few of TSD’s Programs for Students

Banner graphic for October 2022 Superintendent update

Greetings, Thompson Community:

I hope you are having a great fall season so far. As our students continue to move through another excellent and productive school year, I wanted to take a few moments to share some information with you about three key programs in particular that are providing extraordinary service to students and families.

Our Freshman Academy at Mountain View High School is a robust program that purposefully welcomes incoming freshmen, helping to create a sense of belonging and community while establishing personal accountability for academic achievement and positive pro-social behaviors. A special focus for each freshman is placed on meeting their social-emotional needs, earning sufficient credits to be on track toward on-time graduation, and the notion that school is relevant to themselves and their future. This comprehensive program includes the Lion Launch summer program, a freshmen orientation day, the Freshman Seminar course, after-school tutoring, smaller core content class sizes, and an embedded partnership with upperclassmen leaders. With a dedicated team consisting of a freshman assistant principal, a freshman counselor, and fourteen teachers who design and deliver Freshman Seminar coursework, the foundation is set for students to build positive relationships not only with their peers but also with a trusted adult who will assist them throughout their high school experience.

Meanwhile, Big Thompson Elementary School is in its second year of partnership with EL Education. EL Education is a national nonprofit partnering with K-12 educators to transform public schools and districts into hubs of opportunity for all students to achieve excellent, equitable outcomes and apply their unique genius to the world. It was founded in 1991 and currently serves 440,000 students in diverse communities across the country. Big T’s partnership with EL Education will foster classrooms where learning is active and meaningful. The staff strives to elevate their instruction and learning to the next level so that students become leaders of their own learning and “accomplish more than they thought possible.”

This process is a multi-year journey for EL Education and Big T. In the 2021-2022 school year, Big T focused on student-engaged assessment practices (SEA), a collection of practices that support students to own their learning by setting goals, reflecting on their learning and monitoring their progress. For the 2022-2023 school year, Big T is diving into developing the structure and spirit of Crew to support students as they develop a strong sense of belonging, purpose, and agency.

Speaking of world impacts, Walt Clark Middle School is very proud of the real-world learning experiences that are being offered to students. The campus’ mission is to provide students with rigorous and relevant learning opportunities that embed community connections and college and career exploration in an inclusive and supportive environment. To prepare learning opportunities, teachers are trained in problem-based learning lesson planning, as well as AVID cooperative learning structures that enable students to take more ownership and voice in their learning. In addition to general courses, WCMS provides six pathways for students to explore in their STEM X program. These pathways include Aviation and Robotics, Applied Arts, Computer Sciences, Communication and Information Systems, and Health Sciences. Within each of these pathways, there are three courses that students will experience, such as Geometry in Construction, Aviation and Flight, and Robotic Design-Battle Bots.

Each of these programs is doing an excellent job not only preparing students for the challenges of today but also providing them with the skills that they will need most when they graduate from high school. The staff members who operate them are 100% dedicated to supporting each student, and I am exceptionally proud of the team and all of our staff throughout TSD. These efforts are just three of the many high-impact programs that are in place to serve our students. To learn more about all of the great opportunities that are offered, I invite you to explore our website.

Thank you for your support,
Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

New Resources To Help Keep Our Schools Safe

Banner graphic for September 2022 Superintendent update

Greetings Thompson School District Community,

Our new school year is off to a terrific start. It was so nice to see students and staff return to the classrooms after a productive summer full of bond work and educational activities. As we head into the fall season, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some new safety and security resources that have been implemented in the Thompson School District.

Let me begin by assuring you that safety and security is and will always be a top priority of the Thompson School District. Over the summer months, the Thompson School District Safety and Security team worked hard to further the capabilities and capacities of district personnel. Through all of that hard work, a new security patrol position was formed.

The new security team members completed a 100-hour intensive safety academy that empowers them to respond to a wide variety of situations across the district. In addition, these staff members have been specifically tasked with providing general security support to all of the elementary schools and after-school activities in the district. We are very excited for this position as we constantly strive to serve our students and district community.

As in every other district, the world of safety and security in TSD is fluid in nature. Districts must always maintain and balance resources and responsibilities as they relate to incident response in order to ensure students and staff are safe. Thompson School District is constantly working with our School Resource Officer unit from both the Loveland Police Department and the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to ensure our response protocols are always in compliance and in line with best practices.

Through these conversations, two things were identified as needs for the district moving forward. The first was a School Resource Officer who was specifically identified to work with the elementary schools in the district. The second need was a mental health professional who could respond to mental health crises as they arise in the district.

Through conversations, our community partners from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Summitstone Mental Health rose to the challenge, and the “Youth Crisis Response Unit” was born as a result. This unit will encompass both a deputy from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and a co-responder from Summitstone Mental Health Partners. The unit will increase the physical and emotional safety of all students in Thompson School District, as it is gaining recognition locally, regionally, and nationally.

It truly is a model of increasing the district’s ability to respond to incidents and emergencies while also providing an increased focus on prevention and wrap-around support for students. Please feel free to greet these individuals should you see them in our community.

We are excited to bring these new security measures to our school district as we continue to focus on school safety. Should you have any questions about these new resources, please feel free to contact the Safety and Security Department at (970) 613-5010.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

A New School Year of Transformational Change

Banner graphic for August 2022 Superintendent update

Greetings, Thompson School District Students, Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year! In a few short days, we will welcome our nearly 15,000 students back to school. We also welcome back our 2,000-plus member district staff, most of whom have been hard at work in recent weeks eagerly preparing for our new school year. These are exciting times for Thompson School District, and I am optimistic that our students will have their most successful, productive, and memorable school year yet.

The 2022-2023 school year will bring many transformational changes to our district, and I would like to highlight a few of them for you now.

Our bond team has been busy working on eight different schools this summer. Some of the work includes maintenance items, security upgrades to our entryways, and educational space upgrades. Our largest project of the summer was starting the conversion of Conrad Ball Middle school to a PK-8 campus. This approximate $21 million renovation will continue throughout the upcoming school year and will be completed for the start of the 2023 school year. The students arriving at Conrad Ball Middle School this month will experience all-new air-conditioned spaces.

This summer has also seen substantial progress on the expansion of High Plains PK-8. This project will also be completed by the fall of 2023. At the campus, we will be adding a brand new classroom wing to the building as well as constructing a new, full-size competition gymnasium. Additional enhancements will include an expanded cafeteria as well as a new track.

On the curriculum front, we are working on updating our curricular materials in two of our content areas. We are trialing materials for both elementary math and secondary English language arts to help make decisions about the best materials to support our students and teachers in achievement and growth with the Colorado Academic Standards. Materials will be used this fall with feedback from students, teachers, and parents to plan the best resources to implement moving forward in the 2023-2024 school year.

The social/emotional and mental health well-being of our students will continue to be a focus and priority for us as we head into the school year. We have excellent counselors in all of our schools, and the elementary level will continue to have full-time support staff to meet the needs of our students. Teams from all schools are engaged in year-long professional learning to enhance their ability to support students and families with their social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health and to ensure a welcoming and supportive school culture in each TSD school.

The Thompson Career Campus completed its second year of serving students from all high schools in the Thompson School District. This past year, students earned over 200 core credit hours toward high school graduation and collectively enrolled in 1,993 college credits while saving over $241,000 in tuition! Thompson Career Campus is entering its third year, and it will be the best yet, as we are adding a fifth pathway. The new Geographical Information Systems pathway will provide another opportunity for students to earn core and elective high school credit, college credit, and industry certifications in addition to college certificates.

As I hope you can see, we are working hard to ensure that Thompson School District will be a destination district where the student experience is at the center of what we do. As always, we will continue to build upon and seek out community and business partnerships to help support the work we are achieving. These are exciting times for this district, and we will continue to build upon our successes while continuing to earn the trust and support of our community. For updates throughout the school year, please consider following me on Twitter @tsdDrMarc.

Thank you for your support,
Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Wrapping Up Another Year of Success and Celebrations

Greetings Thompson School District Students, Parents, Guardians, Staff, and Community Members:

May is upon us, and so are the final days of the 2021-2022 school year. This has been an exciting, busy, and productive school year and one in which our students and our district have experienced a large array of accomplishments and successes.

As we head into our summer break, we have much to celebrate and be proud of. We also have exciting work ahead of us as we continue to refine, shape and enhance the educational experiences we want for our nearly 15,000 students. While there are many things I could highlight as our successes and accomplishments, I would like to focus on these significant achievements:

The completion of our first full school year at Riverview PK-8 – the newest school in the district, serving our Johnstown community and surrounding area.

The beginning of the consolidation of Mary Blair, Monroe, and Conrad Ball schools into a modern and exciting new PK-8 facility that is set to open in the 2023-2024 school year.

The planning for and the future expansion and upgrade of High Plains School, adding new classrooms and a new gymnasium to address population growth, is set to debut in the 2023-2024 school year.

Our students and school teams continue to excel on and off the field by earning scholarships, academic awards, and state championships in athletics, activities, and arts/music.

The official launch and deployment of our new secondary mathematics curriculum in grades 6-12.

Keeping a focus on more competitive wages for our staff – including raising base starting salaries for classified employees, increasing wages for our transportation team, creating financial incentives for our substitute teachers, and working to establish additional benefits and enhanced salaries to attract, recruit and retain the very best talent here in TSD.

Building upgrades, safety improvements, landscape enhancements, and furniture refreshment on our campuses and facilities throughout TSD as we continue to leverage funds from the 2018 Bond.

In partnership with Loveland Pulse, TSD won a national award for building the infrastructure needed to connect the communities of Lago Vista and Drake to broadband internet.

The continuation of honoring and leveraging student voices through our district-level student advisory committees.

The expanded partnerships, community forums, outreach, and communication with the TSD community and local businesses.

To our graduating seniors—congratulations! We are so incredibly proud of you. As you embark on your future experiences beyond TSD, we are thrilled for your next steps, whether it be college, the workforce, the military, or anything else you choose to do. We are hopeful that you will remember your time here in TSD as positive, productive, and formative. As a community, we will continue to cheer you on and look forward to hearing great things about what you will most assuredly do and accomplish in the future.

To our returning students and staff—enjoy your summer! We are excited that you will return next year. We wish you a wonderful break and hope you will engage in pursuits that you will find most fulfilling—be it work, play, learning, travel, and/or rest.

And to our community—thank you for being valuable and necessary partners and for entrusting us to serve our students and our community. The future of Thompson School District continues to be bright, and our potential is limitless and exciting. We appreciate your support and your partnership.

In closing, this has been an incredible year for TSD. We will build upon the optimism and trust that the community has provided this year. Have a wonderful and enriching summer. We will see you all in August for what promises to be another extraordinary year for Thompson School District.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Providing Each Student With Tools for Success

Dear Thompson Community:

One of the things I am most proud of about our district is the fact that our entire staff and Board of Education is truly committed to providing an excellent education to each student. Children do not all learn in the same manner; some students need additional support to help ensure they will be successful. Our amazing staff members in the district’s Exceptional Student Services department work very hard to help provide these important opportunities.

Special education is highly regulated by federal and state laws and because of this, the provision of services looks quite similar in school districts across the nation. People sometimes ask, “What makes special education so special?” In Thompson School District, the answer is “our people”–our students, parents, families, staff, special education providers, principals, administrators and our community members who all come together with a commitment to educate each student. Our special education students comprise about 13% of the total student population.

Specialized instruction and related services are delivered in every school in our district, including the charter schools. Within the district, a continuum of services is available to meet the unique educational needs of each student who is eligible to receive special education services. Contrary to popular belief, special education is not about a place for students to go to; it is about instruction that is specially designed for students with disabilities so they can make progress in the general education curriculum, with their grade level peers, to the greatest extent possible. This is accomplished by our inclusive practices philosophy. A majority of students with an IEP receive universal instruction and special education and related services in the general education classroom 80% or more of the time.

For those students who require services outside of the general education classroom, they may access this in what we call a “learning center.” Students may receive specialized instruction and related services through collaborative models of co-teaching and/or co-treating, differentiated instruction, or individual and small group instruction. Students who require more intensive services may access services in combination with the general education setting and the Intensive Learning Center (ILC). Students identified with intellectual disabilities and/or multiple disabilities (a child with two or more areas of significant impairment, one of which is an intellectual disability) often require programming in ILC center-based programs. ILC programs provide specialized instruction aligned with Colorado’s Extended Evidence Outcomes, and focus on the development of functional academic skills, communication, social skills, adaptive skills and life skills. ILC programming is designed to increase students’ independence throughout their education.

Students served in affective needs classrooms experience skill gaps that may be related to a variety of special education disability categories including but not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Serious Emotional Disability or Other Health Impairment. Placement in a center-based program is a special education process determined by each student’s IEP team.

Some transition age students attend our community-based program and receive support based on their Individual Education Program (IEP) in order to progress in their post-school goals. The 18-21 Community Connections Program serves students with significant needs after their four years of high school. The program focuses on independent living skills, community access skills and pre-employment skills.

“Related services,” including occupational therapy, speech-language counseling, physical therapy, and nursing services are examples of support that may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. Our school district also has a Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). SEAC meets monthly with district staff to discuss projects they are interested in, and to provide feedback about educational experiences for students with disabilities and their families. Anyone interested in attending SEAC meetings or joining the SEAC board should email tsd.seac.communication@gmail.com.

Supporting each student throughout their educational journey has been and will continue to be our key focus here in Thompson School District. I am grateful not only to our dedicated staff members, but also our entire community for providing us with the support and tools we need. Thank you for all that you do to help make this important work a reality.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

The Student Experience Extends Outside the Classroom

Greetings Thompson Community:

Thompson School District employs nearly 2,100 employees who contribute to the day-to-day operations of our district. From our school-based staff to our district-level workers, each of our employees give so much of themselves to ensure that our school district serves our students and community in an exemplary manner.

Over the last several weeks and months, I have had the privilege to “walk in the shoes” of a number of different employee groups to have a deeper and better understanding of the work they do on a daily basis. For example, in the fall I had the opportunity to serve as a substitute teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels. This month, I rode a school bus, worked at a middle school as a custodian and also spent some time outside with our maintenance and operations team plowing and moving snow. Having these unique and authentic working experiences with valuable employees of TSD gives me a clearer perspective on what it takes to maintain the daily operations of our district. It also reminds me that we truly have an exceptional and dedicated staff. In this month’s community letter, I would like to highlight and showcase our transportation and maintenance/operations teams.

The Thompson School District Transportation Department is dedicated to providing safe, timely and efficient services for our district. The department operates sixty-five daily routes, traveling over 5,000 miles and transporting more than 4,800 students each day when school is in session. The work usually begins well before 6:00 am and can last long into the evening hours. The current staff of approximately 130 safety professionals provides general transportation routing services, special education routing services, extracurricular/athletic trip support, district shuttle services, summer program support, as well as paraprofessional and crossing guard services for the district. The team of mechanics work year-round to service, maintain and repair our entire district vehicle fleet. As you may have seen and read in news reports, our country is currently experiencing a continued and unprecedented shortage in school bus drivers and transportation staff. Our amazing team remains committed to providing this wide range of services for our district while focusing on the safety of our students, staff and community each day.

Now more than ever, we have been relying on our custodial and maintenance crews to keep our buildings safe and open for learning. From COVID impacts and staff shortages, to snow and ice removal, our dedicated staff have continued to step up. Many staff are working extra shifts and coming in early to clear snow and are also staying late to clean buildings and cover for vacancies or staff who are out sick. This has involved a lot of cross-training, including our building maintenance staff coming in at midnight to clear our lots, and management and maintenance staff cleaning buildings. All of this is in addition to regular duties: taking care of roof leaks, plumbing concerns, temperature issues, etc. Our slim grounds maintenance crew has continued to work over the weekends clearing snow and sanding for events. Custodians have been working together to make sure tasks are covered, while also continuing to build relationships with students in our schools. While this time has been very taxing, as it has been for many across the district, the perseverance and teamwork of the crew has been amazing, with the continued goal to support our students, staff and community.

The simple truth is that without these dedicated people–as well as all of the other staff members throughout our district–we would not be able to continue to provide the exceptional education and service that our students and families deserve. I am so thankful for each and every one of our team members. Thank you as always for your continued support and for all that you do for our entire Thompson community.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Leadership Lessons From Going “Back to School”

Dear Thompson Community:

One of the greatest perks of being the Superintendent of Schools for the Thompson School District is the opportunity I have to conduct frequent school visits and walkthroughs in order to observe teaching and learning in progress. As the superintendent, I recognize that student growth, achievement and support are paramount to ensuring ultimate success for our nearly 15,000 students. Our district exists to serve these needs, and there is no better place to observe this important work than in the school buildings themselves. During the months of January and February, I have invited our Board of Education members to accompany me on these visits. It is important to me that our board members get an up-close and personal view of our schools in action. After all, our board is entrusted to make the important policy and governance decisions for the district; I want them to see first-hand what our students are experiencing each and every day to help inform their perceptions as well as provide them with authentic interactions and observations with our students and staff within learning environments. I am pleased that all seven members have made the commitment to participate in these walkthroughs with me.

Each walkthrough is led by the building principal of that particular school. The board members and I not only tour the school building, but we also enter classrooms, learning spaces and school environments to observe the lessons and activities that are taking place. Board members and I frequently engage and interact with students by asking them questions such as what they are learning about as well as what they most enjoy about this particular class. Board members also frequently engage with teachers and school staff– sometimes just to thank them for their great work and contributions, and at other times to seek feedback or ask questions about their working experiences within the building. By spending time within our schools, Board of Education members and I are able to observe and witness first hand what is taking place within each and every one of our buildings. In the most authentic ways, these visits provide insight and important feedback in terms of what is going great and what needs may exist to bring about continuous improvement. Further, the participation of Board of Education members in these visits not only shows a genuine interest in the work that is taking place within TSD, it also shows a partnership and dedication in advancing the vision and goals of the district by being present and engaged.

As a school district leader, I recognize that leadership does not take place in an office or from behind a desk. It is important to be present and out and about. It is also important to be visible. I also recognize that providing meaningful and authentic opportunities for our Board of Education to observe and engage in authentic and unfiltered ways provides a lens, perspective and benchmark for our school district leaders to make informed and educated governance decisions. Like many parents and members of our community who go to work each and every day, our students also go to work. The job of our nearly 15,000 students is to learn, grow, develop, experience, play and become our future citizens, workers and leaders within our community and beyond. These school visits and walkthroughs provide a meaningful portal into what is taking place in our schools and buildings so that as leaders we can help make the necessary decisions to foster and support our students.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

A New Idea for the Old-Fashioned Computer Labs

Dear Thompson Community:

Welcome to 2022! I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing holiday season.

Over the last two years, our district has made huge strides in providing network, hardware and software access to staff and students to improve our operations and instruction. Our bandwidth has increased, all students have access to computers and many new learning applications are being implemented. While these are the main priorities of our Innovative Technology Services Division, there are many other areas of technology that we are also working to improve. Today I will highlight a less visible, but very important tool for learning – our technology labs.

The old-fashioned computer lab used to have the important purpose of exposing students to information technology when there were few other options available. But as more technology access was provided within the classroom setting, the general computer skills labs began to lose their relevance. Now, most students learn computer skills within the context of learning from their teachers. Each student has access to a computing device so a lab is no longer needed as the main place to utilize computers. Thus, the purpose of our labs has evolved. Now our labs are being redesigned to provide access to specialized technology that supplements the students’ standard devices and gives teachers creative ways to facilitate learning.

In our middle and high schools, most labs are specialized for subjects such as business, industrial fabrication, computer science and graphic arts. In some middle schools and most of our elementary schools, older labs are being converted from traditional generalized computer labs to Innovation Labs. These new learning spaces are modularized. Based on space, funding and curricular limitations, schools choose among eight different modules, including Multimedia Studio (K-5 or 6-8), Fabrication Shop (K-5 or 6-8), Health & Medical Zone, Fluid Works, Computer Science Lab or Innovation Den.

Students use specific processes to build skills and create both tactile and digital learning artifacts. Our new Innovation Labs provide spaces for students to do things with specialized technology that cannot be easily accomplished with standard students’ devices in the classroom. These specialized technologies align with and support college, career and technical opportunities in high school as students progress through the grades in alignment with the K-12 Computer Science Framework and ISTE Standards for Computer Science.

Over the past two years, we have installed fourteen of these modules and updated many existing middle and high school labs. Three more elementary innovation lab modules are in the planning stages now. While funding is a limiting factor, we have been able to maintain momentum with help from our philanthropic partners, including Parent-Teacher Organizations, Rotary and the Berthoud Schools Fund. Their financial support, combined with district funding, has made these lab transformations possible. We are so thankful for their generosity. Eventually, we will convert all of our generalized labs to specialized labs in order to provide the world class learning our students deserve.

As always, thank you so much for your support of our students and staff. Your dedication not only greatly benefits our district, it also helps to further strengthen our amazing community. We look forward to a terrific 2022!

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Reflections On A Very Busy School Year

Dear Thompson School District Students, Parents, Staff and Community Members,

Nearly five months ago, I welcomed our students, staff and community to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. We launched it fully in-person and the school year that laid before us was full of promise, excitement and endless possibilities. As we head into the midway point of this school year, there is so much to be proud of. Our district stands tall as we celebrate the achievements of our students–in academics as well as in activities. From our youngest pre-schoolers to our high school seniors, we are excited by what has been accomplished thus far as we look forward to the second half of the school year. So far, we can already boast of state champions, award-winners and scholarship recipients. Each day within our PK-12 classrooms, we find the important, yet often unseen, personal triumphs and victories of our students as they learn, grow, develop, and cultivate new knowledge, experiences, skills, talents and friendships. We are proud of our nearly 15,000 students–each and every one of them–and we cannot wait to see what they do next!

As always, we continue to ensure that Thompson School District is a premier destination district in the state of Colorado. Here are a few of the highlights in the school year thus far:

  • Grand Opening of Riverview PK-8 School in Johnstown
  • Formal celebrations of the new Thompson Career Campus as well as our Sunrise Thompson Health Clinic, which serves students throughout the community.
  • Continued focus on social-emotional support at each of our campuses, including full-time counselors at our elementary schools and a complete districtwide audit of current social-emotional learning practices
  • Completion of High Plains PK-8 design for the school and campus expansion. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2022.
  • Major renovation, repair and building upgrades throughout the district
  • Major upgrades in campus security, including completion of secure entries at our high schools and most of our middle schools
  • Districtwide technology upgrades—hardware, software and infrastructure

And this is just the halfway point in the school year! As we continue to invest in our district, please know that we are also investing in the future of our students.

On behalf of our 2,100 district employees, our seven-member elected Board of Education and myself, thank you for your support and enthusiasm for Thompson School District. We rely on our community for your partnership and trust and we also know that we are doing important work to prepare our students for the future. Have a wonderful holiday season and we will see you in 2022!

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Lessons Learned From a Return to the Classroom

Greetings Thompson School District Community,

Over the last several weeks, I have had the unique opportunity to serve as a substitute teacher in a classroom at the elementary, middle and high school levels. While I began my educational career as a classroom teacher, it has been nearly twenty years since I have served in the capacity of a “teacher.” I can tell you firsthand that much has changed since the last time I was a full-time teacher, and a lot has remained the same.

First, the similarities: When you get down to it, kids are kids…and it is incumbent on us as educators to meet the needs of our students every day they come before us in the classroom. Students remain curious and full of energy. Most of them enjoy the social aspects of school–talking and working with one another and seeking out social interactions, be it through group work, eating in the lunchroom or playing on the playground. Like adults, students are social individuals who enjoy human interactions and positive relationships with one another. This social aspect was on full display at each of the schools in which I had the opportunity to substitute. Another similarity is that students are hungry to learn. Students expect much from their teachers and want to be engaged in activities that are purposeful, relevant and engaging. Our students are bright and they will work to the level and expectations that are set for them. Students want lessons that connect with real-world experiences and applications. They also are more interested in arriving at their own conclusions as opposed to being told what or how to think.

Now for some very clear differences: Students really like their electronic devices and, at the secondary level, their phones and personal devices. When I first started teaching in the 1990s, the computers that students used (and shared–as there was only one computer per classroom) were large and slow. It was a special event when students were able to use a computer, and the computers were either used as a typewriter or to play a game like “Oregon Trail” with very simple graphics and a text-dense platform. Today, devices are ubiquitous and are either personally owned or readily available on a one-to-one basis within the classroom. These devices serve as learning and social tools, and students demonstrate agility in toggling between technology and paper/pencil activities. Another clear difference I observed is that students seem to do a much better job advocating for their needs. Most of the students I was with did not seem to know that I was the superintendent of the school district. Yet many were comfortable interacting with me, asking for help or support on their assigned activities and providing feedback to me on their learning and their needs. The students were very polite and they also seemed to be very aware of what they needed to be doing to be successful. Even as a guest in their classrooms, I could see that students seemed to be self-aware and self-advocates for their learning. This was pretty darn impressive to me!

While I enjoy my job as the superintendent of the Thompson School District, having the opportunity to spend some authentic time within our classrooms as a substitute teacher not only gives me a deep appreciation for the hard work our school staff do on a daily basis, it also reminds me of how the student experience truly does matter. Plus it demonstrates that our kids still retain many of those positive qualities that, after nearly three decades in public education, I still remember from early in my career.

In a season of giving thanks and appreciation, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your engagement with the Thompson School District. It truly takes a community to support the important work that takes place each and every day in our schools for our nearly 15,000 students. Enjoy the remaining days of the fall season.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

A Celebration of Old and New

Greetings Thompson School District Community:

After a successful launch to the new school year, we are excited to move into the fall season with a continued focus on educating and supporting our students. The past several months have been especially busy in our community. Not only did Riverview PK-8 School have a tremendous grand opening, we also welcomed the public to a celebration of the new Ferguson High School and Thompson Career Campus. Both of these projects were funded by our 2018 Bond measure and we are excited to see the buildings filled with students who are enjoying the new experiences that are possible.

There is also much more to celebrate in our community and I want to bring your attention to a few key things that I am particularly excited about. First, the month of September marked the 100th birthday of Big Thompson Elementary School, which is located in west Loveland near the foothills of the Rockies. At the end of the month, students and staff held a celebration which included some specialized learning activities as well as a group photo to commemorate the occasion. We were also excited to host a public anniversary event recently, providing tours of the building and opportunities to learn more about the long history of this very unique building. Like every other school within our district, the community of students, families and staff at Big Thompson is special. The strength and talents within that community are a major reason the school has continued to thrive decade after decade. It has been a wonderful treat to be able to celebrate this special milestone with them.

While Big Thompson Elementary is one of the oldest buildings in the district, the brand new Sunrise Thompson Health Clinic is among the newest. The clinic is a partnership with the great team at Sunrise Community Health and is available to all students within TSD, along with their siblings. It’s a convenient and friendly place for families to access basic health services such as immunizations, sports physicals, wellness checks and behavioral health assistance. We know for a fact that proper health care is critical in allowing each child to learn and thrive. This partnership with Sunrise Community Health is a huge step in ensuring that students and families are able to access the health care services that they need.

Each school day, over 15,000 children in our district pass through the doors of their school, where they are greeted by caring staff members who are there not only to teach them, but to also support them during these special years. Curriculum materials, electronic devices and other items are certainly important, but nothing is more critical to the educational process than the staff members who are in the classroom, as well as the support team that assists them at both the school and district level. Each staff member of the district is vital to the success of our students – whether it be a teacher, a front office staff member, a custodian, a teammate on the school nutrition team, a bus driver, a team member who is working to keep the grounds safe and well-maintained, or others across TSD. If you are looking for a rewarding career that will allow you to assist families and our community in a terrific way, I urge you to consider joining our team. We have a variety of positions available and more information is located on this website.

One thing that I am reminded of each and every day is just how lucky we are to have so much amazing support from our families and community. Your partnership means so much to me and I look forward to all of the great things that we will continue to achieve together. I wish you continued success and a wonderful fall season.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

TSD’s Student Experience Extends Beyond the Walls of the Classroom

Dear Thompson Community:

When we think about the student experience in TSD, we often think about the teaching and learning that takes place in our classrooms throughout the school district. This is, of course, a critical component of the educational system for our students–academic achievement, skill and experience acquisition, as well as learning, growing and development opportunities. I believe that an additional and integral part of the educational experience for our pre-school through high school students also includes those extra and co-curricular activities–from music, drama and clubs, to athletics, student leadership and activities. While I could focus on a myriad of examples at the elementary and secondary levels, I would like to take a moment to highlight one example of these experiences that is on full display nearly every Friday night during the opening months of school: Friday night football.

Over the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to attend two football games that featured our talented and passionate football teams. From our students in Berthoud to those in our Loveland high schools, these students have worked hard to hone their skills, develop their talents and exhibit a high degree of athletic prowess. What was on full display was not only incredible football skills and athletic ability, but also an impressive degree of sportsmanship, team camaraderie, school spirit, personal pride and huge accomplishments. While a score displayed the progress of the game, what it did not reveal were the personal accomplishments, the hard work that went into the preparation for the game, the great plays, the “just-missed” opportunities and the sheer enjoyment of those participating. It was fun to watch these young adults engage in an activity that involved learning and experiences that transcended classroom activities.

Other students also played an equally important and meaningful role in the evening’s events. I watched with high interest as our JROTC members proudly displayed our national flag, honored our country during the playing of the national anthem and marched with precision throughout the game. I also witnessed our talented and enthusiastic cheerleaders who prepare and practice with as much gusto and enthusiasm as the players on the football field. These students delighted the crowd with stunts, cheers and excitement throughout the entire game…almost never breaking or taking a rest. I also watched with excitement and pride our marching band, color guard and music students who delighted the crowd with an extraordinary halftime performance that required countless hours of work, practice and preparation in order to carry out a highly choreographed and well-deployed performance. The work, effort and energy of these students was absolutely remarkable.

Finally, the atmosphere of the Friday night game was punctuated by the student, staff, parent and community attendance who populated the stands–both of the “home” and “away” teams. Not only was it exciting to see the huge crowd that filled each seat, but it was equally stunning to experience the electric atmosphere of cheers, chants, foot-stomping and applause. In many ways, the energy of the crowd also contributed to the specialness of the night.

While our students are engaged in the important work of achievement, learning and experiences within our many classrooms throughout this district, I think it’s important to remember that there are also learning experiences that take place through involvement in our activities and athletic programs. From pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, the student experience here in TSD is inclusive and expansive. Our students work and play hard, and they also give much as they pursue their passions and interests. It’s yet another reason why I’m so incredibly proud of our entire TSD community. Your dedication to each of our students is inspiring to me, and we are grateful for your continued support.

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year!

Greetings Thompson School District Community,

As we look ahead to welcoming our students back to full in-person learning, I could not be more excited and enthusiastic for this upcoming school year. In a few short days, our nearly 15,000 students will experience new and improved school sites that feature building upgrades and improvements on every one of our campuses. Examples of these upgrades at many of our sites include new flooring, new ventilation and air handling systems, new classroom furniture, new roofs, new secure vestibule entrances (at most secondary schools), painting, general playground enhancements and landscaping upgrades. We will also open our newest school, Riverview PK-8, in Johnstown. We are confident that our students, staff and community will enjoy these upgrades and enhanced features–all due in large part to the generosity and support of our TSD community through the passage of the 2018 Bond. To learn more and to view some photos of these improvements, please visit our bond website at tsdbond.org.

Beyond the physical improvements of our campuses and buildings, we know that our staff has been hard at work preparing for this upcoming school year with an eye toward meeting the needs of each and every student. We are welcoming nearly 150 new members to our teaching team who will be joining our experienced and talented school staff.

The health and safety of every individual student and staff member will continue to be an absolute top priority for us here in Thompson School District. We continue to work and partner with our state and local county health agencies who provide the necessary guidance and recommendations to inform our decisions for the district with regards to health protocols and safety practices. In addition to our continued attention to maintaining clean and sanitized facilities, schools and classroom spaces, we will continue to closely monitor COVID cases and outbreaks at the school, city and county levels. We will also be working closely with our health partners to offer free vaccinations for eligible students at our secondary school sites. As with COVID-19 testing opportunities, parents or guardians must consent and be physically present for all vaccinations. The vaccination of those who are eligible provides us with the best chance for keeping students in school and maintaining uninterrupted in-person instruction.

The start of this school year will feel fresh and exciting because we are in-person and can launch the school year in a way that our students and staff are accustomed to. From sports and activities to school plays and concerts, our plan is to provide our enhanced array of experiences and student pastimes that create a fully-embedded student experience allowing for learning, growing and experiencing. For more details on the upcoming school year, we invite you to visit our 2021-2022 online information guide, which is located here.

Our goal and commitment remains the same: To serve the needs and successful outcomes of each of our students. On behalf of the entire TSD staff, welcome to the 2021-2022 school year!

Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District