Curriculum director looks forward to new year

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Ryder Delaloye is the Director of Curriculum for the Whitefish School District. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

Since joining the Whitefish School District as Director of Curriculum in 2016, Ryder Delaloye has been at the forefront of a number of innovative programs implemented by the district ó including the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, personalized student projects and entrepreneurial programs like Junior Achievement.

With two children in the district, Delaloye also uses his diverse array of experiences, like living in India and Thailand, to try and mold well-rounded students in Whitefish.

Delaloye studied education and economics as an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University, where he also earned his masterís degree in political science and geography. He received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Montana in 2017. Prior to coming to Whitefish, Delaloye was a Civic Education Coordinator at the Office of Public Instruction and has taught in Missoula, Jackson Hole, Thailand and India.

Delaloye recently sat down with the Pilot to talk about his summer and what his priorities are heading into the 2018-19 school year.

How has your summer been?

My summer was amazing. [My wife] Naomi is completing her Spanish credential, and this year she needed an immersion experience, so we thought, ĎLetís try Mexico.í

We were down near the border of Guatemala and the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas ó itís so rich, culturally, with incredible topography and diversity.

It was my first foray traveling with young children. They canít just schlep it with a backpack. We did overnight bus trips and things ó we were definitely real with it, but it was a more modulated approach. It was just an awesome experience.

Howís it feel to be back then? Excited for the school year?

It feels good. Thereís a lot spinning.

This is now my third year, so I feel a greater sense of confidence.

The Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship is built, so thatís exciting. We also have social/emotional learning programming that is occurring and being woven into Muldown and the middle school, and the high school is taking some exploratory steps in that direction too, so that feels really great.

Then our continued process with Multiple Tiered Systems of Support, figuring out, ĎOK, how do we derive meaningful data, how do we respond to that data and meet the needs of all students?í

Thereís a lot going on, but weíre moving in the right direction.

So how would you explain your responsibilities as Director of Curriculum?

In the past, I would come in and I would just implement something or do a program, execute it ó I just did.

Here, I donít do. I build some structures, I connect with people, I support them, I help them, I provide a lot of the framework ó but they do it.

My role is that of a support mechanism. I help to foster and encourage structures that can be relied on, I follow up, I facilitate conversations, and I hopefully empower and enable things to be accomplished. My role has really shifted from executing to providing support, facilitation and leadership to accomplish the goals of the district.

Where in your place in the district do you feel like you bring the most value?

Where I bring value, honestly, is probably just in enduring commitment and passion. Thereís an energy and a positivity that I try to exude on a regular basis, and a certain perseverance. I draw from within, Iím a high-energy person, so to be able to come into a situation, to be able to take on challenges or opportunities and be able to have a mind thatís receptive to that I think is important.

And how is the district preparing students for the changing world we live in?

Iím proud of our district on that front. Communities of 7,000 people donít typically have what we have regarding programming initiatives. And also human capital ó we have an incredible array of strong educators and administrators.

Iím proud of the deeper learning initiatives that we have ó the cultivation of a growth mindset, critical thinking, collaboration and communication ó those fundamental skills that people need to be successful.

Notice I never once stated high test scores. That will come as a result and byproduct of cultivating these different qualities, but even with that said, what is a test score and how does that define you? Your accomplishments are a measure of the contributions you offer others, the work ethic you apply, how youíve disciplined yourself to accomplish certain tasks ó itís not some number you scored on an exam at some point in some arbitrary class.

Now that the CSE is constructed, what are some big priorities or projects for you in the future?

Weíve done a lot of new things recently. Itís time to dig into the things that weíve done and really nurture those. So the CSE ó itís one thing to build the building, itís another to have it be functioning at a high level. Thatís a three to five-year process, and itís hard for me to say that because I want it tomorrow, but we have to be patient.

And Muldown, right? Weíre building a new school. Thatís real, that is a big deal. Itís a small school district, and itís essentially a third of our district, so that building over the next two years is going to be pretty amazing. I think that will take up a lot of bandwidth ó though I personally donít have much of a role in that process, because Iím curriculum. Nevertheless, when it does come time for instructional practice and how do we use that space, thatíll be exciting.

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