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The late Marilyn Stein (BA ’55, education) of Denver has bestowed $3.2 million of her estate to fund the arts and early childhood education programming at the University of Denver.

This significant gift, which the University recently received, supports the creation of endowments for the Lamont School of Music, the Morgridge College of Education and the School of Art and Art History in the following ways:

  • $1.1 million will support the Lamont School of Music to fund student learning and creativity in the performing arts. For instance, the endowment can fund the repair and replacement of musical instruments, such as percussion sets and pianos, which are heavily used on a daily basis.
  • $1 million will support the Morgridge College of Education’s Fisher Early Learning Center and fund student scholarships and speech therapists.
  • $1.1 million will support the School of Art and Art History to fund materials that facilitate student learning and creativity in the visual arts. For example, this gift enables faculty to purchase a digitally programmable kiln for ceramics students, textbooks for art history students or darkroom equipment for photography students.

“Ms. Stein’s estate gift significantly increases our ability to serve and teach our students,” says University Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “As a teacher, Ms. Stein understood firsthand the financial hurdles facing educators. It’s appropriate that her estate gift creates a legacy at DU through which we can honor her lifelong passion for education and the arts.”

A Denver native and lifelong resident, Stein was a kindergarten teacher for the Englewood School District and Denver Public Schools. She attended East High School before graduating from the University of Denver with a BA in education in 1955. According to those who knew Stein, her work was her passion and the impact she had on children during her lifetime was monumental.

“This generous expression of philanthropy indicates a deep confidence in the University of Denver to realize Ms. Stein’s vision for future generations of students,” says Armin Afsahi, vice chancellor for advancement. “We are grateful that she chose DU for her gift.”

Stein, whose birthday would have been today, died on Nov. 29, 2014, at the age of 81.

The original article is available in the DU Magazine.

You can also learn more in the Denver Post .

Library and Information Science (LIS) student Anna Kongs is refurbishing an ambulance into an interactive bookmobile to serve the greater Denver community; it is expected to officially launch in summer 2016. Kongs plans to establish a presence—similar to food trucks—at many of the area’s local farmer’s markets and festivals and will provide an interactive experience for patrons through light and sound as well as by hosting events for artists and writers. In addition, the bookmobile will serve high-need and less-resourced areas of Denver as a mobile library, bookstore, and book donation center.

Kongs started the project because of a lifelong love of books and interest in stories, and she “didn’t want to wait until graduation” to begin applying the lessons of her studies to the outside world. She came to the University of Denver (DU) from an accounting career—wanting a change to a creative field—and joined the Library and Information Science program because of the versatility that graduates have in their careers, choosing to focus on public librarianship, outreach, and programming. With the bookmobile, Kongs wants to give back to the community and carve a place in the local literary community.

The project has gained awareness on campus and in the literary community; Kongs has benefitted from support from her peers at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE)—many of whom have offered assistance—and advice from literacy nonprofits in Denver such as the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Burning Through Pages.

Kongs successfully applied for 501(c)3 non-profit status, which she says was in and of itself a learning experience. She completed a test run of the bookmobile this spring, and will attend her first events in Denver this month. She has created a digital presence for the project, which can be found here.

Choose2Matter (C2M) is a national movement created by Angela Maiers to inspire K-12 students to take ownership over their educational experience. Courtney Collins—a Curriculum and Instruction (CI) student—is working with Maiers to further promote C2M and establish a partnership between the movement and the University of Denver. Collins met Maiers in the fall of 2015 and invited her to speak at the students’ Practice of Teaching course taught by Clinical Professor Paul Michalec, PhD.

The goal of C2M is to empower students—by themselves, their peers, and their teachers—to practice passion-based learning, including exploring “heartbreaks”— issues that affect students on a local, national, or international level — and to identify their genius, or unique strengths, as individual learners and contributors to the classroom. Schools participate in the movement by hosting C2M workshops.

Collins describes C2M’s approach to identifying “heartbreaks” and connecting them with passion projects as “taking problem solving to the next level” by motivating students to identify and explore issues in order to create solutions. At a recent workshop that Collins attended in Saskatchewan, Canada, students from the third grade through high school collaborated on exploring and identifying solutions for a range of heartbreaks, including mental health, loss of family members, bullying, and feelings of invisibility.

Collins said the premise of the movement “hits a fundamental nerve”, a sentiment shared by Morgridge College of Education students Tess Golding, Alicia Saxe, and Sarah Wilkins, who became interested in C2M after hearing Maiers’ presentation. Saxe and Wilkins support C2M through advocacy and workshop facilitation while Golding is starting a position as C2M’s website and social media intern. All of the students are pursuing involvement with C2M outside of course and program requirements because they consider the mission of the movement critical to their career plans and aspirations as future educators.

Ph.D. candidate Brittany Greiert—graduating from the Child, Family, and School Psychology program this June—focused her academic research and dissertation on sex and relationship education for individuals with autism, a topic that has seen little research or development of guidelines until recently.

Prior to enrolling at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Greiert worked with a nonprofit reproductive health organization and noticed the lack of resources available for individuals with disabilities. This inspired Greiert to continue her education in order to address the resource gap, and she chose MCE because of the college’s support of her research interests. Greiert says that historically there have been extremely limited resources for comprehensive sexual education for those with autism, and that while there has been progress in the past few years, there are few guidelines on the topic.

Her work has led to a variety of opportunities for collaboration and sharing in the community and on a national level; in 2015, she collaborated with a colleague at Emerge: Professionals in Autism, Behavior, and Personal Growth to present a workshop at the Autism Society of Colorado titled “What happens in Vegas…Autism Style! Sex, dating, and intimacy.” Nationally, Greiert presented her findings on data, resources, and gaps in research at the 2016 National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) annual conference.

Greiert’s dissertation research resulted in the development of the Guidelines for the Development of Sexuality Education Curricula for High Functioning Adolescent Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The guidelines are intended to be used as a tool to guide future sex education curriculum development, address the unique needs of students with autism, and provide suggestions to modify existing curricula so that their needs are met. Furthermore, the guidelines function as an advocacy tool to increase awareness of the unique needs of high-functioning students with autism.  Greiert says that being proactive in creating a structured approach and presentation of information would be of huge benefit to individuals with autism as well as to school psychologists and parents of children with autism.

We are excited to highlight Morgridge College of Education Higher Education PhD student Delma Ramos. Delma focuses on social justice in higher education and explores systems of access and opportunity for underserved populations that stem, in part, from her experience as a first generation student. Her inspiring scholarship has led to a variety of opportunities including a summer associate position at the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy! Below Delma shares her professional experience and advice:

Current research

I have been involved in collaborative projects guided by both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Currently, I am participating in a study that explores the transition to college of low-income and first generation families and the systems institutions have in place to determine their involvement in their children’s college experience. Another project examines the academic trajectories of low-income, first generation women of color in racialized and sexualized academic settings.

Most recently I was invited to collaborate in two studies one which seeks to understand the role that low-income and families of color play in cultivating their children’s educational aspirations and ideologies, and one that involves the construction of a series of measures of Funds of Knowledge. I am also currently working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education on projects related to developmental education and performance metrics.  This summer, I look forward to joining the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy in DC as a graduate summer associate exploring federal policies impacting higher education. Findings from at least two of the projects have been widely disseminated at forums including ASHE, NASPA, and AERA. Several publications that have emerged from this work are currently in the pipeline.

Collaborators

Most of the research inquiries I have participate(d) in are collaborations with various researchers.  In these settings, I play different roles as part of the research process from proposal development to finding dissemination and the creation of recommendations. These partnerships have taken place within the University of Denver, primarily with my academic advisor Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama and with colleagues from outside organizations including the University of Missouri, the University of California-Los Angeles, Teachers College, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, RAND Corporation, and the Education Commission of the States.

Initial Inspiration

My research interests include access, retention, and graduation from higher education institutions, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Additionally, I focus on the assessment of programs with similar foci and on issues pertaining to educational quality and inclusive pedagogies in higher education, with a special interest in measure development. Philosophically, my research agenda is driven by my passionate commitment to social justice and my vision for a more inclusive and accessible higher education system. My research interests are further strengthened by my background as a first generation student and my exposure to scholars who study inequities in higher education as influenced by economic, social, and political contexts.

Biggest Challenge

As a woman of color, my biggest challenge has been to identify support systems that strengthen my ability to persist and succeed in my program at DU. My support network is composed of colleagues within and outside of DU as well as family and friends outside of Higher Ed.

Research Advice: Make Connections

I have found networking to be a very effective tool to access a wide array of research and other professional development opportunities.  Reach out to those people you would like to work with, you’ve got nothing to lose!

NOTE: This blog post is being featured from the official blog of the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies.

Joybox Studios—a startup established in 2015 by Will and Julie Clark, the creative minds behind Baby Einstein—has partnered with the University of Denver (DU) to develop early childhood curriculum materials including activities, music, videos, games, flash cards, books, and toys. The materials are designed based on research from early childhood education experts.

The collaboration between DU and Joybox Studios is a part of Project X-ite, a cross-disciplinary initiative at the University intended to ignite new ideas and build exciting, innovative partnerships with creative thinkers and doers in industry and government.

The partnership allows Joybox to leverage the expertise of three academic departments at DU, including the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Daniels College of Business (DCB), and the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science. The project also leverages DU’s location at the heart of Colorado’s thriving high-tech innovation economy.

Carrie Germeroth, Ph.D, Assistant Director of Research at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy at MCE, is the team lead for the project. Dr. Germeroth will lead a diverse group of students from across the University as they delve into longitudinal efficacy studies, resource creation, business analytics, Latino market studies, project management, video production, and application development. The students – who will come from MCE, DCB, and the Ritchie School – will work together to create a finished product.

Joybox Studios will also create a suite of tech-based and physical tools for parents and children—birth to three—providing parents with a road map for understanding, supporting, and monitoring their child’s development. Dr. Germeroth, along with Research Methods and Statistics students Heather Blizzard and Ksenia Polson, are providing research support for the development of the tools, including the creation of a research design intended to evaluate the suit of tools and the creation of a plan for data collection which supports iterative development. Utilizing the expertise of MCE faculty and students will enable Joybox to create more effective means of developing and measuring their products.

Campus Conversations is a monthly, student-led group that discusses issues of identity, oppression, and privilege. The group was founded by Grace-Ellen Mahoney, a first-year graduate student at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE). Mahoney’s efforts are supported by MCE Faculty members Andi Pusavat, Ph.D, a Clinical Assistant Professor, and Patton Garriot, Ph.D, an Assistant Professor, of the Counseling Psychology (CP) Department.

The first meeting took place on April 7, with a great turn out by faculty and students from a variety of different programs across campus. The meeting focused on what goals Campus Conversations should pursue, as well as setting group norms for future meetings.

Mahoney is a first year CP graduate student at MCE. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2014 with a degree in Family and Human Services. Her academic and professional interests include providing culturally responsive mental health services to marginalized and under-served populations. Mahoney began Campus Conversations because she believes that an important aspect of graduate school is learning from others and having one’s beliefs challenged. This belief fueled an interest in providing students with a space to openly discuss issues of identity and social justice outside of the classroom.

Andi Pusavat, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Counseling Services Clinic Director in the Counseling Psychology Department at the University of Denver. Dr. Pusavat’s clinical interests are in the intersections of identities and her research interests focus on emotional abuse. She is very excited to be a faculty sponsor of Campus Conversations and she is a current member of the Counseling Psychology Diversity Task Force and Morgridge College of Education Inclusive Excellence Committee at the University of Denver. Dr. Pusavat feels very fortunate to have participated in the first Campus Conversations meeting and looks forward to supporting the program as it continues to address issues of identity, oppression, and privilege. She espouses that transformational conversations about diversity and privilege require honest, respectful dialogue that both empowers and challenges participants to think and feel within the context of brave spaces. “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Dr. Garriott’s work focuses on the intersections of race, class, and vocational psychology with an emphasis on issues of access and equity. He is a member of the Counseling Psychology Diversity Task Force and proud faculty sponsor of the Campus Conversations program at DU. Dr. Garriott believes that Campus Conversations offers students, staff, and faculty the opportunity engage with one another on issues of privilege, oppression, and equity. He believes open dialogues on issues of diversity help us check our own biases and communicate at a broader level that the university community is invested in creating an environment that is truly inclusive.

The next Campus Conversations meeting will take place on May 12, from 4:00pm – 5:00pm in Katherine Ruffatto Hall Room 105. Campus Conversations is open to all DU students, faculty, and staff.

Interested in getting involved? Email Mahoney at Grace.Mahoney@du.edu.

“It is surprising how deep and broad children’s thinking can be about mathematics” said Douglas Clements, Ph.D, to a packed White House Press room this morning, April 21, 2016. Dr. Clements, who is a faculty member at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), the Kennedy Endowed chair in Early Childhood Learning, and the Co-Director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy alongside his Colleague Julie Sarama, Ph.D, is a nationally renowned expert in early childhood math education. He was invited to the White House to participate in the panel discussion “What does the research say about Early STEM” a part of the Early Learning STEM Symposium which was hosted by the White House, U.S. department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Invest in US.

The Early Learning STEM Symposium highlights the important role science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have in preparing our nation’s youngest children for the future. The Marsico and Kennedy Institutes at the Morgridge College of Education are making a significant impact in the field of early childhood math. “We know so much already about how children learn math. Our work on learning trajectories needs to continue and be more widely disseminated,” Dr. Clements told the crowded audience of early childhood STEM experts.

For the full video visit the White House Briefing Room.

As part of MCE’s ongoing initiative to make a positive impact on the Denver community, the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy is proud to announce their significant contribution to the Jeffco Prosperity Project (JPP), a major collaboration between local educational, business, non-profit and government agencies aimed at tackling poverty in the greater Denver area.

Under a three-year contract, Marsico’s Assistant Director of Research Dr. Carrie Germeroth and Research Project Director Dr. Crystal Day-Hess will be evaluating the project and providing strategic feedback in an effort to maximize the JPP’s positive impact on the local community.

Drs. Germeroth and Day-Hess will be collecting data from a variety of sources including JPP participants, coaches, and administrators, as well as surveying key JPP partners to assess the project’s effectiveness. Based on their evaluations, they will be providing recommendations to JPP administrators on any programmatic changes that should be made to improve family services and support systems.

Jeffco Prosperity Project Model

Jeffco Prosperity Project Model

Initiated in 2010, “The Jeffco Prosperity Project will change the way human services and education services are provided to low-income families in Jefferson County.” The project aims to reduce generational poverty by providing vital support services for families, including those that focus on school readiness, family self-sufficiency, and health/mental health well-being.

The Marsico Institute was given $156,976 in funding for the three-year contract, part of a $1.6 million dollar award from the Daniels Fund to The Action Center, the JPPs primary funder. Other key partners include the Jeffco Schools Foundation, which is supporting the project’s implementation, as well as the Jefferson County Department of Human Services, Jeffco Public Schools, and Arvada Head Start.

Since its conception in 2010, the JPP has gone through vital early planning stages and launched what is now an innovative, implementation-ready program that aims to see tangible improvements by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. According to one JPP parent, “This program is a gift for a lifetime. My kids will have more opportunities for a better future than I had.”

Be sure to stay tuned for more updates from the Morgridge College of Education and the Marsico Institute on their involvement in this important collaboration.

Aesthetic learning and arts curricula are a key component in the development of young minds. The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and its faculty, students, and alumni are making an impact across the nation in the world of arts education.

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D

P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D and MCE faculty member, leads teachers in incorporating the arts in their daily lives and work. Dr. Uhrmacher is a proponent for aesthetic learning experiences and advocates that all educators can enhance their teaching by bringing creativity in to the classroom. Dr. Uhrmacher has been working with Think 360 Arts since 1993 to promote the creative arts in Colorado.

MCE and Think 360 Arts recently co-sponsored a training program where teachers engaged in art-making projects designed to teach them creative problem solving and inspire them to use similar practices in the classroom. In a Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting (RMPBS) feature documenting the event, Program Director Caitlin Lindquist states that the organization brings in “artists that are really adept at working with a wide variety of student populations and skilled in developing curriculum.” The artists inspire teachers to bring art to life in their teaching and classrooms.

MCE Alumni Make an Impact in Art Education

MCE alumni are also making an impact in education as they utilize skills learned at MCE to implement the arts and aesthetics in their own work.

Curriculum and Instruction (CI) alumna Michelle Mandico is a practicing artist who incorporates her love of art into her teaching. Her art includes influences from her work in early childhood education, higher education, and residential education.

David Kennedy is a CI alumnus who taught middle and high school prior to enrolling at MCE. He recently developed a series of videos as a student addressing the use of arts—in particular, music—as a way for minority students to engage with curricula

MCE Faculty, students, and alumni create and participate in projects that support creativity in effective learning. Our programs aim to empower graduates to make a lasting impact in their communities.

RMPBS Feature on Think 360 Art

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) is proud to recognize the faculty and students participating at the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting: “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies.” If you would like to find out more about the sessions being presented by MCE faculty, students and alumni then review the list below.

The Roles of Transfer and Forgetting in the Persistence and Fadeout of Early Childhood Mathematics Interventions 
Douglas H. Clements, PhD; Julie Sarama, PhD
Sat, April 9: 10:35am-12:05pm, Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D

Drs. Clements and Sarama will present their research on how the fadeout effect can be explained by a treatment-control difference during the forgetting of mathematics knowledge. They will present their findings on the fadeout of academic intervention impacts using the OLS probability regression analysis. Results indicate that while it is not the primary contributor of the fadeout, it is a significant contributor. It was found that the magnitude of this treatment-control difference in forgetting accounts for about 28% of the size of the fadeout effect of an early mathematics intervention.

Evaluating a Revised Developmental Progression for Volume Measurement—Kindergarten Through Grade 2
Douglas W. Van Dine, PhD
Sat, April 9: 10:35am-12:05pm, Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D

Dr. Van Dine will present his research, which used Rasch modeling, on developmental progressions for filling, packing, building, and comparing volume measurement for Kindergarten through Grade 2. Van Dine will also present results, which indicate support that the developmental progressions are valid.

Academics in the Earliest Years of Formal Schooling: Building Evidence for Policy and Practice
Douglas H. Clements, PhD; Julie Sarama, PhD
Sat, April 9: 2:15-3:45pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 146 A

This session explores a range of policy questions related to preschool and kindergarten. Faculty will present papers which explore questions related to academic and non-academic time in the earliest years of school as well as the effects of policy changes and interventions on a range of important student outcomes.

Technology & Transformation: Two Professors’ Experience Teaching Online for the First Time
Norma Hafenstein, PhD; Nicole Joseph, PhD
Saturday, April 9: 4:05-5:35pm, Convention Center Level Two, Exhibit Hall B

Drs. Hafenstein and Joseph will report the findings of a faculty self-study research they conducted to document and analyze their first-time experiences teaching in a virtual environment, including prior expectations, professional development, and the transferability of face-to-face pedagogical techniques and strategies.

Elliot Eisner SIG Business Meeting
P. Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD (Meeting Chair)
Saturday, April 9: 6:15-7:45pm, Convention Center Room 159A

In this meeting—chaired by Dr. Uhrmacher—Dr. Joel Westheimer will discuss the relationships between the work of Elliot Eisner and the 2016 Annual Meeting theme, “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies.” Attendees will have input into the direction of the SIG as we discuss a variety of business matters.

Eisner in Mind: Fresh Perspectives on Inquiry and Education
P. Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD (Session Chair)
Sunday, April 10: 10:35am-12:05pm, Convention Center Room 153

Assessing and Increasing Novice Teachers’ Efficacy in Working with Families
Kirsten Hermanutz; Gloria Miller, PhD
Monday, April 11: 7:45-9:15am, Convention Center Room 141

Hermanutz and Dr. Miller will share their recently completed study to examine novice teachers’ self-reported efficacy, a factor affecting the attrition rate of novice teachers. Results are tied to specific field experiences enhancing novice educators’ efficacy about working with families and lessen the likelihood of leaving the field.

Discovery-Based STEM Learning 2.0: Are We There Yet?
Douglas H. Clements, PhD (Presentation Chair)
Monday, April 11: 7:45-9:45am, Marriott Marquis Level Two Salon 12

Approaching the centennial of Dewey’s ‘Democracy and Learning,’ presenters will appraise whether the field has realized John Dewey’s vision of meaningfully situated learning by establishing their contribution in a design study of STEM cognition and instruction.

A Rasch Analysis of the Current Opioid Misuse Measure for Chronic Pain Patients
Lilian Chimuma; Kathy E. Green, PhD; Courtney Morris
Monday, April 11: 11:45am-1:15pm, Marriott Marquis Level Two Salon Four

Chimuma, Dr. Green, and Morris will present results of using the Current Opioid Misuse Measure—used by clinicians—to monitor patients on long-term opioid therapy, using the Rasch model for dimensionality and scale use. They will discuss the results in detail, including suggestions for measure revision and future research.

Many-Faceted Rasch Measurement: Assessing Rater Errors in Performance Assessment
Priyalatha Govindasamy; Kathy Green, PhD; Jessica Lerner, EdS; Maria del Carmen Salazar, PhD
Monday, April 11: 2:45-4:15pm, Marriott Marquis Level Two Salon Four

The presentation of this paper will address the teacher supervisors (raters) potential errors through Many Faceted Rasch Measurement (MFRM), a complex process in which raters tend to introduce errors that are not attributed to the actual ratees’ performance.

The Design & Implementation of an Evaluation Model for Equitable & Effective Teaching
Priyalatha Govindasamy; Kathy Green, PhD; Jessica Lerner, EdS; Maria del Carmen Salazar, PhD
Tuesday, April 12: 12:25-1:55pm, Convention Center Level Three Ballroom B

Govindasamy, Dr. Green, Lerner, and Dr. Salazar will describe the development, implementation, analysis, and results of a research study to design a preservice teacher evaluation tool known as the Framework for Equitable and Effective Teaching (FEET), and will assess rater bias, analyze measures of reliability and validity, and identify implications for revising the evaluation model and training for supervisors.

Teacher Education Program (TEP) student Krystal Giles participated in a round-table discussion with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock as part of the Make Your Mark campaign. The round-table, hosted by Denver Public Schools (DPS) Acting Superintendent Susana Cordova and Mayor Hancock, focused on the important role teachers of color play as advocates and role models for students of color.

The Make your Mark Campaign is an initiative dedicated to diversifying the faculty population working in Denver schools by recruiting educators of color. Mayor Hancock, DPS, six charter school networks, and several foundations have teamed up to lead this campaign. Their goal is to assure that the faculty working in Denver schools better reflects the diverse student population.

Diversifying teacher demographics is especially important in Denver. Statistics from Make Your Mark show that—in DPS—while over 75% of Denver students are of color, teachers of color make up less than 25% of the regions educators.

As part of the TEP field experience requirement, Giles, a Dual Degree Teacher Education candidate at MCE, works as an Apprentice Teacher at Barnum Elementary School in Denver. She was invited to participate in the round-table through the connections she developed during her field experience.

MCE promotes inclusive excellence and diversity in all of its programs, and recruits students who have a passion for inclusivity. Students like Giles are trained to become ideal candidates for schools looking to employ teachers dedicated to serving diverse populations.

Several Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumni, all of whom lead schools in DPS, are banding together to create an “innovation zone.” Chalkbeat Colorado reports that this zone will consist of several innovation schools which already operate in Denver. Innovation schools are defined by the high level of autonomy given to school leaders. This autonomy allows leaders to create unique and effective learning environments.

Ashley Elementary School became an innovation school in 2013 after principal Zach Rahn (MCE class of 2010) was hired as part of a turnaround effort. Since then, Ashley has seen progress in academic achievement as well as in school culture. Rahn strives to “inject joy into each day” at Ashley Elementary.

The Denver Green School is co-led by MCE alumna Prudence Daniels and serves students in K-8. This innovation school has its own produce garden, where each class tends a plot. The school uses solar panels for energy, providing unique learning experiences for students.

The Cole Arts & Science Academy, which is led by MCE alumna Jen Jackson, has focused heavily on early literacy. The school’s Kindergarten through third-grade currently ranks among the top in the state for literacy.

The leaders of these three schools – along with the leader of Creativity Challenge Community – are seeking the creation of this innovation zone, governed by a new nonprofit organization. This proposed zone will provide the innovation schools with even more autonomy, further allowing them to meet their separate needs while sharing in the common goal of promoting individualized learning. It’s all about “going from good to great” says Rahn.

The ELPS program specializes in training individuals capable of implementing positive change in the institutions they lead. Graduates like Rahn, Daniels, and Jackson learn to apply their skills, transforming low-performing schools into effective learning environments.

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) had a substantial presence at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference, which was held in Denver and attracted over 2,500 participants. Faculty from the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program, Kennedy Institute, and Marsico Institute were all in attendance along with Students from several MCE programs. MCE faculty and students presenting included:

  • Julie Sarama, Ph.D – MCE Faculty and Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies
  • Douglas H. Clements, Ph.D – MCE Faculty and Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning
  • Jeanine Coleman, Ph.D – ECSE Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Pilyoung Kim, Ph.D – Assistant Professor at DU’s School of Art, Humanities and Social Science
  • Rachel Schiff-Gray – ECSE Alumni
  • Heather Blizzard – RMS Graduate Student
  • Laura Dietert – CI Graduate Student
  • Ksenia Polson – RMS Graduate Student
  • Jessica Carswell – ECSE MA Student
  • Tara Brand – ECSE MA Student
  • Katie Belleau – ECSE MA Student
  • Brita Strub – ECSE Cert Student
  • Hazuki Tochihara – – ECSE Alumni

Drs. Clements and Sarama were the keynote speakers for the conference alongside Dr. Bob Sornson Founder of the Early Learning Foundation. They started the Saturday morning conference with their presentation on early math education setting the stage for the rest of the event.

“A few of the teachers in the audience commented that they could not wait to share what they had learned” said Heather Blizzard a Ph.D student in the Research Methods and Statistics (RMS) program. Blizzard presented on the effects of teaching geometry to young children alongside her peers Laura Dietert and Ksenia Polson.

Library and Information Science program (LIS) graduate Marta Pardo was featured in the Elbert County News recently for her work updating Elizabeth Middle School’s Library. Pardo, a Colombian immigrant with an impressive career history as a Medical Doctor and cancer researcher, found herself working in Colorado libraries in 2005. After several years working as a para professional she received a scholarship enabling her to pursue a Master’s degree in LIS at the Morgridge College of Education.

In 2014 Pardo began working at Elizabeth Middle School. “I wanted to work in a small library. Its important work” says Pardo who is firm believer of making a big impact in small communities. In her year at Elizabeth Middle School she has been able bring library technologies forward a decade and turn the library into a paradise for students.

Pardo advocates that her students – especially the female ones – “just do it, get into school, get an education.” She uses her own daughters, who are away at Yale on scholarships, as shining examples of what young woman can achieve.

Elbert County News is a part of Colorado Community Media. Colorado Community Media is a joint venture between MetroNorth Newspapers, Mile High Newspapers and Community Media of Colorado. Colorado Community Media’s authority on the 24 local communities it serves is unparalleled.


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