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.

Suzanne Morris-Sherer is the current principal of Thomas Jefferson High school in the Denver Public School district. Morris-Sherer spent six years working as the principal of Side Creek Elementary in the Aurora Public School district after receiving her Principal Licensure from the Morgridge College of Education’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) Ritchie Program.

In her three years at Thomas Jefferson, Morris-Sherer has drastically raised the status of the school. She tells her students that they “need to aspire to achieve”. By changing expectations placed upon the students and staff, she has been able to create an environment that gives the support and inspiration needed for success. “I just love seeing their potential… [Thomas Jefferson High] is truly the hidden jewel I always say it is”, stated Morris-Sherer, who has worked with the students and staff to incorporate curriculum aimed at developing life skills.

Watch the video below to experience the change at Thomas Jefferson High School.

This post is part of a series of stories recognizing MCE graduates during National Principals Month.

Follow the personal journeys of a group of high school students in Los Angeles who have been identified as “twice exceptional”–gifted or highly gifted individuals with learning disabilities or differences. The Institute for the Development of Gifted Children at the Morgridge College of Education will screen the film, “2e: Twice Exceptional” on Thursday, October 1st. The event is co-sponsored by Jeffco Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, and the Ricks Center for Gifted Children.

“2e: Twice Exceptional” features illuminating and thought-provoking interviews with students, parents, teachers, psychologists, and therapists to present an honest, up-close look at what it’s like to be—or to be the parent or teacher of—a young person who’s both gifted and coming to terms with a learning difference. According to filmmaker, Thomas Ropelewski, these children vex their parents. “They are often considered ‘at risk,’” he says, “but they may very well grow up to change the world if they are given the chance to demonstrate and develop their abilities.” Among them may be the next Einstein, Mozart, or Steve Jobs… if they can survive the American school system and their own eccentricities.

“2e: Twice Exceptional” was a 2015 Official Selection at the Richmond International Film Festival, the Portland Film Festival, the Silver Springs International Film Festival, and Dances With Films.

EVENT DETAILS:

Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m. (one hour) – Discussion panel to follow
Location:
Morgridge College of Education
1999 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, CO 80208

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) has received a substantial donation in support of its Library and Information Science Program from Ruth D. Klein. The donation will go to scholarships for this year’s incoming Master’s students. Ms. Klein is a graduate of DU’s LIS Program and served as a librarian in the Denver Public Schools for over 30 years.

Ruth Klein was honored by the Morgridge College of Education and DU’s Office of Advancement at a luncheon on March 4th, where Dean Karen Riley (MCE) and Dean Nancy Allen (Anderson Academic Commons) joined LIS students and faculty members to thank Ms. Klein for her contributions to the field of library information science.


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