Congratulations to Laurier Hampton who was recently selected as one of only three DU students to participate in the fireside chat with Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who’s a distinguished keynote speaker at DU’s upcoming Diversity Summit.

Laurier Hampton is a first-year graduate student at the University of Denver in the Morgridge College of Education’s Library and Information Science program, specializing in Archives. Prior to moving to Denver in September of 2019, she lived in Baltimore City her entire life. She was raised in Northeast Baltimore in the 1990s and early 2000s in a supportive home but an underprivileged community. Her family was determined for her to excel in spite of her environment and the lackluster educational institution in Baltimore. Laurier attended Baltimore City’s only all-girl public high school, Western High School. Upon her completion at Western High School, she immediately entered Towson University to study Art and Design and graduated in 2010. During that time, she not only honed her skills as an oil painter and sculptor but she also gained a better understanding of the world outside of her own community.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design from Towson University, she returned to school to pursue an entirely different path. In 2017 she attended the University of Maryland University College to study History. While conducting research as an undergraduate student, she realized the underrepresentation of ethnic groups in how history is recorded, preserved, managed and taught. This impacted her decision to pursue a graduate degree specializing in Archives. Her hope is to have a positive impact on the biases found in archives and recorded history by providing the perspective of a woman of color.

Her past and present work is closely connected to helping people and empowering communities, be it through contributions to a healthy and equitable work environment in her position as a move coordinator for a large international moving company; as a volunteer assistant librarian at Guilford Elementary Middle School for underprivileged children in Baltimore, as a volunteer at the Colorado State Archives and Public Records; or as a volunteer at the non-profit art gallery and community art center Baltimore Clayworks, which introduced ceramic arts to underprivileged children.

Laurier brings her interdisciplinary vision, acute sense of social justice, rich life experience, and artistic talent to our continuously evolving and contentious field. For Laurier, an emerging leader with outstanding potential, diversity, equity, and inclusion constitute a major drive of her scholarly, professional, and volunteer activities. They also serve as a lens through which Laurier sees the world and analyzes the human condition. Some of Laurier’s professional aspirations are anti-oppression in archival practices, community archives, and social justice in archival representation and memory preservation. She is an incredible scholar and an outspoken advocate for equity and social justice.

The Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE) at the University of Denver (DU) has a vision for happy, healthy children and families living in vibrant rural communities. The Colorado Health Foundation has stepped in to “Make it Happen” with a $4.9 million grant awarded to CRSHE to increase healthy eating and physical activity among high poverty, rural students and school staff. CRSHE, already a known partner in rural Colorado, will build on existing partnerships with 27 rural school districts to support them in implementing community-driven comprehensive health and wellness plans. CRSHE’s involvement in this process is key; it helps rural districts identify and successfully implement culturally relevant evidence-based practices. The Make it Happen grant period kicked off in October with expected completion in Oct. 2021.

“I’m excited for our rural school district partners. They’ve worked hard to develop thoughtful health and wellness plans and now have both financial resources and CRSHE support to put those plans in place,” said CRSHE Executive Director, Elaine Belansky, PhD.

According to Belansky, one of the top concerns of rural districts is mental health. With that in mind, CRSHE is also launching The Resiliency Project, specifically designed to complement Make it Happen by promoting youth mental health and resiliency. This effort is also generously funded by the Colorado Health Foundation and makes it possible for CRSHE to continue providing hands-on support in rural Colorado through in person meetings with rural educators to discuss mental health promotion strategies and a regional convening to share the latest best practices and school success stories. CRSHE will capitalize on DU’s state-of-the-art ECHO-DU technology, a virtual professional learning tool, in order to provide rural educators information about the latest best practices on topics such as social-emotional learning, suicide prevention, and bullying prevention.

“I’m thankful to the Colorado Health Foundation for recognizing that youth mental health is a top priority in rural Colorado school districts,” continued Belansky. “Allotting funds to address that need allows all of us to keep the momentum going.”

As a leader in Colorado’s Creede School District, Grants Manager and Health and Wellness Coordinator Lauren Sheldrake is looking at ways Make it Happen and the Resiliency Project can impact her constituents.

“In the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the mental health needs of our students and staff,” Sheldrake said. “The grant and these partnerships can open a door to addressing Colorado’s mental health crisis, creating the vibrant communities CRSHE envisions.”

Over the weekend, Elaine was able to chat with Colorado Public Radio about the project and ways the funding will be used in rural districts.

Colorado kicked off its annual legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Prior to the session, Chalkbeat Colorado brought its annual Legislative Preview to the Morgridge College of Education for a collaboration and lively panel discussion on what to expect from Colorado’s upcoming legislative session on Friday, Jan. 3. Chalkbeat Bureau Chief, Erica Meltzer, moderated the discussion and was joined on the panel by State Rep. James Coleman, State Rep. Colin Larson, State Sen. Paul Lundeen, and State Sen. Nancy Todd.

According to Chalkbeat’s breakdown of the panel, here is what we can expect for the legislative session, which kicked off on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

  • Lawmakers have heard from Colorado voters loud and clear: No new taxes for education.
  • Without new money, one area where lawmakers seem poised to make changes is strengthening teacher preparation programs.
  • School accountability is here to stay.
  • Lawmakers want to see school funding distributed in a more equitable manner. But if some students get more money, that means others will get less.
  • Gov. Polis’s $27 million preschool expansion plan faces an uphill battle in the legislature.

You can read Chalkbeat’s full recap here and watch the recorded livestream video below (or on Facebook) of the morning panel discussion.


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