On Tuesday, November 7, Morgridge College of Education alumna Dr. Carrie Olson (PhD, ’16) was elected to represent district 3 on the school board for Denver Public Schools. Olson beat out incumbent Mike Johnson 52% to 48%. Olson graduated from Morgridge in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Morgridge College of Education Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) Department and Denver Public Schools have been invited to participate in the first Leadership and Education Development (iLEAD) initiative at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Erin Anderson, ELPS Assistant Professor; Sandy Lochhead-Price, the Director of School Leader Performance and Development at Denver Public Schools and ELPS EdD student; Amy Keltner, Deputy Chief of Schools at Denver Public Schools; Anne Whalen, Deputy Chief of Academic Strategy at Denver Public Schools and Susan Korach, Associate Professor and ELPS Department Chair attended the initial meeting in late October at the Carnegie Foundation in Stanford, CA.

The Carnegie Foundation launched the iLEAD initiative to enhance and extend the efforts of schools of education to incorporate Improvement Science methods and Networked Improvement Communities into their education doctorate programs. According to its website, iLEAD is designed to further the capacities of institutions of higher education (IHEs) and their local education agency (LEA) partners to enact systematic improvement efforts within their organizations and in partnership with one another.

Applications were submitted in early September and out of the eleven participants, nine are member institutions of the Carnegie project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) and seven are member institutions of University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA):

  • Fordham University and Mamaroneck Union Free School District
  • University of Virginia and Chesterfield County Public Schools
  • University of Maryland and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS)
  • High Tech High GSE and High Tech High
  • Indiana University and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC)
  • George Washington University and Fairfax Country Public Schools
  • Portland State University and Newberg Public Schools
  • University of Denver and Denver Public Schools
  • University of Pittsburgh and University Preparatory School at Margaret Milliones
  • University of South Carolina and Florence School District One
  • University of Mississippi and Oxford School District

“We are honored to be a part of this learning community of IHE’s and districts,” said Korach. “We look forward to further our understanding and commitment to improvement science and networked improvement communities. This work will help us expand our capacity to support systems-level leadership development, prepare leaders to manage complex change, and sustain partnerships and networks with students, graduates and districts.”

Over the next year iLEAD participants will engage in four face-to-face meetings and online collaboration to:

  • Build leadership, technical, and social capacities for using improvement science in masters and EdD programs;
  • Integrate and enhance coursework related to improvement science and NICs in education;
  • Collaborate with other leading IHEs and the Carnegie Foundation on problems of
  • practice and embed that work into educational leadership preparation;
  • Strengthen relations with local LEAs by focusing on relevant and pressing needs; and
  • Contribute to and draw from a “Teaching Commons” resource-bank of exemplar courses and instructional resources for IHE faculty, programs, and participants.

Three Morgridge College Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumnae were recently recognized for their efforts when their schools were honored by the Colorado Succeeds Prize.  Valdez Elementary School Principal Jessica Buckley and Assistant Principal Gwen Frank, both graduates of the DPS Ritchie ELPS program, received the Colorado Succeeds prize for Transformational Impact in an Elementary Award. Additionally, ELPS graduate and The Stem Launch School Assistant Principal Carrie Romero-Brugger saw her school recognized for outstanding achievement.

Three hundred forty-five miles from the University of Denver is the West End School District RE-2. Tucked into the southwest region of Colorado, West End Serves the communities of Bedrock, Naturita, Nucla, and Paradox, covers over 1,000 square miles, and serves approximately 250 total students. Providing education to the rural farming communities, the district faces challenges like any other school district; yet its isolated location brings with it a different set of obstacles when providing the best possible education for students and teachers alike.

Mike Epright, West End’s Superintendent, has made a push and a commitment to maintain quality education. According to West End’s website, the district does so “by providing elevated academic classes, vocational and technical training, and special education programs… Students throughout the district also have the advantage of excellent technology and the opportunity to obtain multiple college credits prior to graduation.”

The district also made a commitment to build capacity through the development of its educators by participating in the Colorado Department of Education Turnaround Leadership Grant Program. The Turnaround Leadership grant, as described by the Colorado Department of Education, “establishes and promotes leadership training specifically for the turnaround environment and is an integral part of Colorado’s state-wide strategy to improve the performance of students in the lowest-performing schools and districts in the state.”

The grant works in two ways: one grant is for the participant (e.g., West End School District RE-2), and one grant is for the provider (e.g., Morgridge College of Education). Together, the entities are able to provide training to educators who can then return to their districts with the tools they need to implement lasting, positive change.

In 2015 two worlds became one as the West End School District partnered with the Morgridge College of Education’s Education Leadership Policy Studies (ELPS) Mountain Cohort. Through this unique partnership, two educators from West End were able to engage in Morgridge College’s ELPS classes in order to expand their personal breadth of knowledge and enrich their district. This fall, another West End educator will join the 2017 Mountain Cohort.

Suddenly, 345 miles was not too far.

“Having the opportunity to develop and implement current research in school improvement, the West End School District has been able to benefit from having two ‘grow your own’ educators take part in the University of Denver’s Aspiring Leaders/ELPS MA Program,” said Epright. “Over the two-year commitment, these two leaders helped shape the instruction and assessment in the district and provided current professional development to staff which shaped a new program change to Project Based Learning.”

Hank Nelson, Morgridge graduate and Instructional Leader at Nucla Elementary School, agrees with Epright. “Participating in the ELPS MA Program was the most beneficial, fulfilling, and impactful experience of my professional career,” he said. “Not one experience failed to be valuable, developing my growth as a leader while indirectly providing a service to the needs of our district. This program made me into an equitable, adaptable, data-driven, innovative, inquiring, and action-research oriented leader.”

An action-oriented leader is exactly the type of leader Epright wants in his schools.

“…through hard work and cooperation, they set a vision of educating each student to the best of their ability,” he added. “I strongly recommend all rural districts reach out to the programming offered!”

The Morgridge College of Education is committed to addressing the needs of both rural and turnaround schools. With its constant adaptation to meet the needs of its students, Morgridge hopes to bridge the divide between distance and hands-on learning. Its Mountain Cohort specifically strives to create an opportunity for rural communities to invest in school leaders who were already part of those communities. In this way, turnaround leadership can organically occur.

The ELPS program, which earned a top 20 ranking in Best Education Administration and Supervision by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016, is now accepting applications for its Mountain Cohort for fall 2017.

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) graduate Lara Jackman  (MA’16) has recently accepted  the position of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator with Summit School District in Frisco, CO. Jackman, who leaves her position as Literacy Resource Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher at Upper Blue Elementary School in Breckenridge, CO, will step into her new role for the 2017-2018 school year.

Jackman was in the Mountain Cohort of the Morgridge College of Education’s principal certification program, Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS). The Mountain ELSS cohort expands opportunities for educators and administrators to benefit from the program’s expertise and earn Certification for Colorado Principal Licensure. ELPS—which earned a top 20 ranking in Best Education Administration and Supervision by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016—launched the Mountain cohort of ELSS in the 2014-15 academic year to support leadership development within the rural mountain communities of Colorado and to meet the needs of region’s district superintendents. Since that time, the cohort has seen 13 graduates accept leadership positions within their districts, six of which are now in assistant principal or lead principal roles.

According to Morgridge Assistant Professor of Practice, Ellen Miller-Brown, Ph.D., the cohort provides a “high-quality, hybrid face-to-face and online program without the need for extensive travelling.” Face-to-face classes are held at locations in the high mountain region where the majority of the students reside.

Miller-Brown is incredibly proud of Jackman’s recent promotion.

“She [Jackman] is very knowledgeable about curriculum and this is the dream job she wanted with the certification she received through our program,” Miller-Brown explained.

The Morgridge Mountain ELSS Cohort will kick off another class in fall 2017 and is accepting applications now for the 2017 – 2018 academic year.

Teina McConnell and Eric Ward wear a lot of hats. In addition to both being doctoral students in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program, they also make up the leadership team at Pickens Technical College in Aurora, CO. McConnell serves as the executive director; Ward is the assistant director.

They now share an additional title: Directors of the #1 Best Community College in Colorado as ranked by Bestcolleges.com. The national ranking organization evaluated variables such as graduation rates, program offerings and tuition costs.

McConnell sites PTC’s student completion, placement, and licensure rate as qualities that helped her college rise to the level of recognition.

Ward agrees with this assessment.

“The last couple years, we have really focused on the completion and placement rates of our students. We have spent a lot of time cultivating relationships within our community that provide employment opportunities for our students. Many of our programs have a reputation of producing top-quality students that are more than ready to make an immediate impact on the

Teina McConnell

company that hires them,” Ward said.

According to McConnell, PTC places a strong emphasis on hiring the most qualified industry experts and equips them with tools and pedagogy necessary to become effective teachers.

“Pickens does contextual and applied academics inside of work-based learning that results in nationally recognized industry based certificates. We incorporate industry input in everything we do through Occupational Advisory Committees,” McConnell said.

McConnell points to the fact that many businesses that hire PTC students support the college through a number of additional initiatives.

Eric Ward

“Subaru of North America recently donated three cars and an engine to our automotive services program for our students to work on and have provided an opportunity for our students to earn their level 2 Subaru certification that is transportable across the world,” Ward said.

“Much of what I am doing right now to retool our career advisors is a result of the work I have done so far in my program (at Morgridge) . . . It is an ongoing process, but we are certainly making progress,” McConnell said.

Ward agrees, “One of the benefits of the Morgridge program is the diverse individuals with a wealth of expertise and knowledge that make up the cohort. Also, I believe that the experience and backgrounds of the professors and adjunct enhance the learning experience.”

Morgridge College congratulates McConnell and Ward on their work to bring educational and career-building opportunities through their leadership at the #1 Community College in Colorado.

The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education in partnership with the Daniels College of Business (DCB) has been named by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) as an identified provider for the School Turnaround Leadership Grant Program. The University of Denver Turnaround School Leadership Program is a tiered system of leadership development that includes the ELPS MA program for aspiring turnaround leaders (Turnaround Fellows) and a professional development program (Turnaround Leader Success Program) for existing principals, principal supervisors, district staff, and other stakeholders. Districts, charter schools, and the Charter School Institute can apply to CDE for funding to have eligible teachers, principals, and district staff participate in this comprehensive program that will prepare and support leaders to improve the performance of students in the lowest-performing schools and districts in Colorado.

ELPS, a frequent recipient of national awards and grants for its efforts in innovative and effective school leadership preparation, already provides a foundation for turnaround leadership competencies through the certificate programs: Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS) and the Ritchie Program for School Leaders (Ritchie). The collaboration with DCB will build on this foundation and deepen competency development for the turnaround environment through the additional coursework of the ELPS MA with a focus on entrepreneurial, re-culturing, business, and innovation leadership. The Turnaround Leader Success Program will provide an additional layer of support for building leadership capacity throughout schools/districts.  The ELPS-MA program is a 2-year, 7-quarter program; students are eligible to apply for CO Principal licensure at the end of their first year. The Turnaround Leader Success Program will be customized to meet the unique needs of participating districts/schools and the work of the Turnaround Fellows.
By increasing partnerships with school districts, charter schools, and the Charter School Institute, the program will focus student learning on the unique needs of low performing schools. Specifically, those of special education, low-income students and their families, and English language learners; developing leaders ready to make a difference in the community.

The 2014, Students of Color Reception: Celebrating a More Inclusive College was a success. Despite bitterly cold temperatures (day high of 39°, and 19° at the start of the event) the fifth annual installment of the event saw increased attendance from the past couple years, with nearly 70 guests joining Morgridge faculty, staff and a student panel. Beginning the night with delightful hors d’oeuvres, prospective students were introduced to current students and faculty to hear more about Morgridge and learning opportunities within the college. Current Higher Education Masters student, Ana Ramirez, spoke of the event saying, “It was a great opportunity to meet other individuals within the Morgridge College of Education and share my experience with prospective students.”

Guests at Morgridge Students of Color Reception

Guests at Morgridge Students of Color Reception

Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Associate Professor of Higher Education at Morgridge, Dr. Frank Tuitt, was the event facilitator for the evening. He spoke to the ongoing need for the college to utilize Inclusive Excellence pedagogy, in order to create equitable education opportunities for all students, specifically students of color. Dr. Tuitt then introduced a panel of current and former Morgridge students of color, to speak about their experiences as students of color on the predominantly white campus of the University of Denver. The panel spoke at length about the investment of the college’s faculty in the success of students of color, both emotionally and academically. There was much praise by the panel on the cohort model as an aid in confronting the challenges that come with being a grad student (e.g. balancing work/social life, having children, the substantial school-workload). Financial resources on campus was a topic of great interest by many of the prospective students. There was an echoed sentiment of the panels’ initial perceptions of the University of Denver being that of a private school with excessive tuition prices; upon acceptance to their respective programs and further conversations with different departments on campus, they discovered the multitude of assistantship, fellowship, and scholarship opportunities to help fund their education.

The event was impactful. Prospective and current students were able to share their stories and engage in conversations with regard to the meanings of their journeys in and through higher education.  The night culminated with panel member, Dr. T. Lee Morgan’s plea to diversify the makeup of the campus and bring voice to communities of color, “If we are going to change the diversity of DU, of Morgridge, we need you here. You have valuable experiences that no one else can bring to the table.”

Thank you to all who attended and supported the Students of Color Reception, and a special thank you to Dr. Frank Tuitt and the panel members:

  • Casey Crear, Curriculum and Instruction PhD (Current Student)
  • Dr. T. Lee Morgan, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies PhD (Alum)
  • Raquel Wright-Mair, Higher Education PhD (Current Student)
  • Ruby Lopez, Teacher Education Program MA (Alum)
  • Hazuki Tochihara, Early Childhood Special Education MA (Current Student)
  • Jamie Kawahara, Child Family and School Psychology EdS (Current Student)

© 2016 University of Denver. All rights reserved.
MENU