Willow Creek Elementary School is the sum of many factors equaling the perfect equation. The mission of Cherry Creek Schools, and thus of Willow Creek, is "To inspire every student to think, to learn, to achieve, and to care." By honoring the core values listed below, Willow Creek excels with an amazing pool of students, teachers, administrators, staff members, parents, and community supporters.
Students thrive in a positive school climate that is physically and psychologically safe. Willow Creek maintains a nurturing, supportive, and structured learning environment for students. The school and surrounding community work together, with strong support from the District, to provide students the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets, as identified by the Search Institute . These assets are positive experiences and personal qualities that young people need in order to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. We also work to ensure a positive learning environment with yearly instruction in Bully-Proofing, a program developed by our District.
Extending beyond the classroom, we offer child care services for children of working parents. During the school year, Willow Creek Cares for Kids (WCCK) operates weekdays before and after school. In a safe, familiar environment, children receive consistent care, healthy snacks, educational enrichment, assistance with homework, and an opportunity to play. In the summer, WCCK operates on weekdays, offering the same familiar setting coupled with an array of field trips.
Additionally, kindergarten parents are offered an alternative to traditional half-day kindergarten. A fee-based Kindergarten Enrichment program extends attendance to the full school day, including lunch, computer class, and activities to enrich kindergarten learning.
In order to maximize their potential, students must "push their limits" in regard to their bodies, minds, and characters. Following is a partial listing of additional learning experiences available through extracurricular programs: Band/Orchestra, Challenge Time, Chess Club, Destination Imagination, Chinese/Spanish, Intramural Sports, MADD (Music, Art, Drama, Dance) Hatters (an annual student musical), Math Club, Multicultural Club, Student Council, Banking Day, Kids Ink Literary Magazine, and Willow Creek's Outreach on the World — WOW.
Students should have a solid understanding of basic knowledge, as well as thinking processes that allow them to effectively use this information. Willow Creek has developed a strong reputation for academic excellence. The school has earned the highest Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Accountability rating of "Accredited with Distinction" (formerly "Excellent") every year since the rating system based on student academic achievement was established. Willow Creek received an additional commendation from CDE in September 2005 as an "Accomplished School" by having at least 90% of students achieve "Proficient" or "Advanced" in reading or math in each of the previous three years. The school has received the John Irwin School of Excellence Award each year since the award's inception in 2004 and the "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence" award presented by the United States Department of Education in 1999 and 2006.
Parent partnerships are essential to students' education. Parental involvement greatly supports and expands student learning opportunities through volunteerism, activity sponsorship, and fundraising. Active support is evidenced by consistently high attendance at both Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and Accountability Committee meetings. More than 40 Room Parents work with teachers to coordinate activities within classrooms. In addition to chairing clubs, activities, and special events, parents annually unite to provide the following for students and the school community: Accelerated Reader Recognitions; Annual Book Fair; Library and Main Office support; publications like the school directory, yearbook, and monthly newsletter; Red Ribbon Week; and representation at many district and community meetings. PTO prioritizes fundraising every year to pay the salaries of additional paraprofessional employees so that they may provide student supervision and instructional services. In recent years, a pledge drive has been the primary fundraising tool.
Students excel and achieve when we uphold high expectations and standards for them. Student success at Willow Creek is directly related to high expectations for student achievement. Differentiation of instruction to meet student need and to provide learning challenges for all students is an essential part of instruction in all subject areas. Providing challenging work and expectations for learning, supported by targeted assistance and intervention strategies, is an integral part of the instructional delivery program at Willow Creek.
We must celebrate our successes and seek continuous improvement. Willow Creek opened as a neighborhood school in 1977 to meet the needs of a new community. Due to neighborhood population changes, combined with desirability of the school's learning environment, approximately 26% of the students currently attending Willow Creek are non-residents of our District. An additional 10% of the current student body is comprised of "School of Choice" students, wherein Colorado state law provides options for parents to actively select school enrollment for their children within their home district. Willow Creek Elementary and its surrounding community continue to celebrate the recognition received in both 1999 and 2006 as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. As a result of the 2008 bond election (3B), Willow Creek underwent a major renovation. Upgrade to classrooms included increased total square footage, new technology (document cameras, sound enhancement systems), solar tubes (natural lighting) and new casework. Willow Creek has been upgraded to a true 21st century learning environment.
Teachers and staff are part of a professional learning community, committed to ongoing learning and development. Willow Creek's teachers and staff members are high achievers themselves, directly influencing and contributing to the success of our students. In addition, staff continuity has contributed to the staff's professionalism. Not only does the school have relatively low turnover, but many teachers who opened Willow Creek in 1977 retired from teaching here after 25+ years.