Behind the scenes of West Ranch staff


   Every day, the teachers and administrative staff at West Ranch put in their best effort to make sure that the students’ education runs smoothly. Not only do staff members plan lessons and attend meetings, but they also put in a lot of work behind the scenes that many students may not realize.

   Mr. Fisher, West Ranch’s principal, explained that “people think we just sit in the office and do nothing, but there’s a lot of work and planning that goes into making sure all the events and classes are organized. You can tell when things aren’t organized. In order to run a well-oiled machine, you need to make sure everything is planned in advance.”

   Beyond what students see, staff spend hours of their time planning and editing lesson plans, organizing student events and staying in touch with students and parents.

   “The counseling team communicates with parents, administrators and teachers. We serve as a hub for as many people on campus as possible,” expressed West Ranch’s head counselor Ms. Reynoso.

   Aside from organizing class schedules for students, the counseling team meets weekly with wellness coordinators, social workers and administrators to ensure that everyone is on the same page and address any concerns students have. Counselors prioritize the students’ mental health and accommodate their needs by taking feedback and getting to know students one-on-one.

   “We have an open-door policy for students to come to talk to us, ensuring that they are receiving the support they need,” said Ms. Reynoso.

   As counselors have their own weekly meetings, Mr. Fisher attends a district meeting once every two weeks where all principals in the district gather with the superintendent and assistant superintendent. 

   “We talk about district-wide events, learn about new state laws and discuss other ideas,” Mr. Fisher explained. “I also attend county meetings, department meetings, professional development and more, including the staff meetings on late start Wednesdays.”

   While students receive an extra hour of sleep, West Ranch staff work and collaborate to provide students with the best education possible. 

   Not only do students have deadlines, but teachers do as well. Mrs. Koskie, an English teacher at West Ranch, explained what students often overlook, saying, “I think students might have some awareness that I create my lessons, manage my class calendar and website, upload materials to Google Classroom, respond to their questions via email, communicate with parents and counselors, grade assignments and assessments and attend meetings, but I don’t think they realize just how much time, energy and effort goes into all of it.”

   Beyond the time factor, West Ranch staff must also consider the effectiveness of their methods. Managing hundreds of students is extremely difficult, especially considering the fact that staff must also consider the various individual needs of students.

   Mrs. Koskie discussed how she tackles the issue of making sure that all of her students receive a quality education: “I am constantly in a state of reflection and projection. By that, I mean I am reflecting on data to drive my instruction, but I am also planning ahead while adapting to the ever changing needs of my students.”

   Just as teachers may turn to technology to help plan their next lessons, administrators do the same. Mr. Fisher noted that the use of online data has allowed West Ranch to adjust and adapt to new trajectories in students’ learning levels. “We look at data, run reports, and see what our data is showing us, like grade distribution and [we] look at specific sub groups and see how they are performing and come up with improvement plans or some sort of idea to address concerns and needs.”

   Besides the raw data of test scores, staff must also look to the students for guidance. “We listen and take feedback from students and change and evaluate what we do,” said Ms. Reynoso. “We evaluate when we miss a mark and don’t do the exact same thing every year.”

   Student feedback is a strong principle at West Ranch, and in order to listen to the voices of the students, administration meets consistently with ASB to agree on future courses of action. This means cooperation between students and staff, and for many teachers, this also means being adaptable. Changes are spontaneous, so like Mrs. Koskie said, “It’s important that I am flexible in my own planning and in expectations of myself so I can stay focused on my main priority, which is to support students, all students, to the best of my ability.”

   The staff at West Ranch put in immense amounts of time and effort to ensure that students receive the best possible education. Students are often unaware of how much staff truly put into their jobs, but behind the curtains, teachers, administrators and counselors work their hardest to create an environment conducive to positive learning. And while it may seem like a lot of stress, the majority of the West Ranch staff can agree with Mrs. Reynoso, whose reason for showing up to work every day is because she loves the students. “100% the students are the main reason I do this job.”