Zionsville Community Schools Continues to Grow Strong in Every Way
In her first 100 days as Zionsville Community School Superintendent, Rebecca Coffman has focused on a litany of areas that are important to the functionality and health of the school district. One of the key areas of focus has been on connection throughout the leadership transition.
We sat down with Coffman, who shared in her words her thoughts on her first 100 days, and we discussed what exciting initiatives lie ahead as the 2022–23 school year comes to an end.
Intentional Planning and Connection are Key
Gradually shifting from a stance of survival to a posture of renewed strength, Coffman has been intentional with her time to rekindle relationships and build new networks. She spoke about some of the benchmarks that she is proud of that have contributed to the successes of the current school year and will have positive impacts on the ones to come.
“Preparing spaces that are beautiful and facilitative of learning is something I’m proud of,” Coffman shared. “I’m also proud of the thoughtful planning and collaboration of not just our team but the collective team of partners in our community. Our enrollment did grow significantly, and because of those [earlier] hard conversations that we were intentional about and made time for, we were able to have the opening of Trailside [Elementary] and the new additions at the high school that include new science labs, art, and business classrooms. It’s providing not just capacity but the right type of learning environment.”
Since stepping into her current role, Coffman has carved out time to meet with parents and families, ZCS school leaders and staff, as well as various community and civic leaders throughout the community and state, as the district prepares for what’s next in Boone County from both an economic development standpoint and a skills preparedness perspective.
“I spent my first 100 days rekindling relationships with parents and building new relationships with parents that are new to the community,” Coffman said. “I’ve met with community leaders and leaders of different youth organizations and county agencies. I’ve had almost 200 conversations with individual staff members in the district and have spent a lot of time connecting and listening to specific experiences. I’m excited to take what I’ve heard in those conversations and couple that with our community poll that was done by a third party. Once we get that feedback and have data from that scientific sampling, those conversations will help provide context to some of that data.”
Planning for Today While Preparing for Tomorrow
While the kids are enjoying their summer break, the ZCS campuses will be bustling with facility improvement projects [playgrounds, paving, roofing, carpeting, etc.] and the administrators will be fast at work developing some exciting new initiatives and programs as they relate to the growing community and workforce needs.
“We are just shy of 8,000 [students], and we anticipate hovering around that mark as we start the next school year,” Coffman stated. “We are looking at how we are staffing for the immediate future, but also looking at the long term and watching those proposals that go to the planning commission. We are watching those timelines and are meeting with developers so we can plan how many teachers we might need at Union Elementary or Trailside Elementary. I’ve had a lot of dialogue with Westfield schools because of the development that’s coming west across State Road 32 in northern Union Township. And we’re discussing what that [development] means for us.”
Coffman continued, “We are going to be ‘pedal to the metal’ all summer long in terms of projects. We will totally open the new areas of the high school this fall and have additional restroom projects that are anticipated to be redone this summer. The other big excitement is the new soccer and lacrosse stadium that will be opening. We are maintaining the resources that the community has entrusted to us, and some of this work is already underway and will keep us quite busy this summer.”
Continuing to Prioritize Health and Safety
“I’m really proud of the continuing dialogue that we have with ZPD, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, and those agencies in and out of our state,” Coffman stated. “We continually review, reflect, and engage in training and in conversations about what the next layers are that we need to bring to protect our children, staff, and our school community. We continue to learn from different experiences and new technologies. We will never arrive at or cross the finish line. It is unfinished work that is a daily conversation.”
When asked how the district is addressing the growing needs for mental health supports and the increasing threats brought on by substance abuse and fentanyl overdoses, Coffman thoughtfully replied, “I like to remind everyone that safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you see something, say something. Use our [anonymous] reporting tool, which is monitored 24/7 and is on the school corporation website. There are instances where it’s not perhaps a school-appropriate response, but one of our trained crisis intervention team members will make sure the right response gets to the family or individual who made the report.”
Coffman added, “I am very thankful for the connections that we have with the various agencies in our county, because we do want to make sure that this is a community where our kids are well cared for and are able to learn in a safe environment.”
For families in need of support throughout the summer break weeks, Coffman encouraged people to visit any of the district’s partners’ websites, including Integrated Wellness, Aspire Indiana Health, Mental Health America of Boone County, or the Zionsville Alliance for Mental Wellness’ website, for a list of resources.
“I want to encourage individuals that you’re not alone if your family is facing a crisis or is just curious about needing support because there are resources in our county that are available and can help point families in the right direction based on their specific needs.”
The Best Is yet to Come
Look for future articles spotlighting some remarkable initiatives that will be coming online at the start of the 2023–24 school year and in the near future, which involve parent and community participation and educational opportunities related to local and specific industries in and around Boone County.
“We want to find ways where we can continue to build comfort and trust and where parents can share experiences with us,” Coffman said. “We’re looking to develop an ambassador academy, starting next year with a cohort of parents and community members. Similar to our onboarding [process] with school members, but breaking that up over several months and having families and members of the community come in, participate, and learn about our HR evaluation process, facility study, etc., to gain a better understanding of why things such as transportation, food service, literacy, or fill in the blank, operate a certain way.”
Until then, Coffman wishes to remind everyone that ZCS offers a variety of educational and fun experiences over the summer break.
“We have different experiences available — 125 different camps or classes that we offer,” Coffman said. “Many of them are offered at Trailside [Elementary] because of all the project work everywhere. Our Summer Z’Camp is going to have roughly 270 students a week, and that’s at Zionsville West Middle School. There are a lot of offerings that are available and meet a wide range of interests.”
For more information on Eagle Recreation & Enrichment Summer 2023 programs, visit zcs.k12.in.us.
Coffman’s Connection Snapshot
62 Parents, grandparents and residents attended coffee talks
47 Requested meetings by organizations, parents, staff, patrons and elected officials
12 Meetings with leaders of CIESC, ISBA, IAPSS
195 Conversations with ZCS teachers and building staff during tours