The University of Denver’s (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and Denver Public School (DPS) System celebrated 15 years of one of the most successful private college–public school partnerships in the nation with a reunion held at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, November 14th. The DU Ritchie Program for School Leaders, was originally created to address the need for highly competent and socially responsible school leaders; namely principals and superintendents.

In its 15-year history the innovative partnership has been credited with producing the majority of Denver’s public school leaders, including:

  • 82 principals
  • 107 assistant principals
  • 4 instructional superintendents

In the current 2017-18 academic year 38 principals and 71 assistant principals in DPS are graduates of the DU Ritchie program. Many of whom have the longest tenure in DPS, have successfully led turnaround efforts, and were the first to achieve innovation status in their school leadership.

In addition to recognizing such milestones, the commemorative event reunited program graduates, professors and mentors from across its 15-year history. Individuals instrumental with founding and sustaining the leadership program were presented with a custom piece of artwork created by West Leadership Academy 11thgrader Julian Urbina-Herrera, and his assistant principal Cris Sandoval, a 2005 Ritchie Program graduate.

Among those individuals recognized for their leadership and support:

Program founders:

  • Ginger Maloney, former dean, MCE at DU
  • Jerry Wartgow, former DPS Superintendent
  • Tony Lewis, Exec Director Donnell-Kay Foundation

Program Namesake:

  • Dan Ritchie, former DU Chancellor

Co-creators of the program:

  • Maureen Sanders, former director of leadership development, DPS
  • Dick Werpy, former DU professor
  • Susan Korach, dept. chair, MCE at DU

More information about the DU Ritchie Program for School Leaders is available here.

More photos from the event can be found on our Flickr album.

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumnus and Denver Public Schools (DPS) graduate Allen Smith has led a highly successful career in education administration that has taken him across the country and earned him national  recognition. Smith, who earned his MA at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and completed the ELPS Ritchie Program for School Leaders Certificate program, credits his education at the University of Denver as a major influence in his success.

A Colorado native, Smith has served as principal at multiple DPS schools, as well as filled superintendent roles in North Carolina and California. He was honored by President Barack Obama for his work as the executive director of Denver Summit Schools where he implemented innovative community engagement efforts. Smith currently serves as the associate chief of the DPS Culture Equity & Leadership Team.

Smith says that the opportunities in the ELPS program helped to establish a larger career trajectory and enable him to more effectively create a lasting impact. To this day, he translates the tools and lessons acquired in the program into his work.

Career Achievements

Smith founded the Skyland Community High School which serves at-risk students in Denver and graduated its first senior class with 100% graduation and 100% college acceptance rates. He also worked at Barrett Elementary School, where he reduced discipline rates and increased student achievement and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College (MLK), which, under his leadership and a turnaround initiative, improved from one of the nation’s lowest-ranked schools to one of the top schools in DPS. The MLK Early College was also recognized with two Distinguished School Awards from the Colorado Department of Education. Smith acknowledges the support of fellow ELPS graduates, who served as assistant principals at the school, with helping to make a lasting impact on the environment.

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.

Capture

Crystal River Elementary School

Matthew Koenigsknecht is the newly appointed principal at Crystal River Elementary in the Roaring Forks School District. Inspired by six years of teaching in Denver Public Schools (DPS), he began his pursuit of a Principal licensure and Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the Morgridge College of Education. Koenigsknecht completed a year as a Ritchie Principal Intern at Harrington elementary School in DPS, and has already begun applying his education at Crystal River Elementary. Aspiring leaders in the central mountain region can access the same principal preparation experience through the Mountain Cohort of the Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program.

Koenigsknecht has developed three strategic priorities for his school: to identify and have fidelity to a mission and vision for the school; to implement high-quality instruction driven by data and supported by professional development and coaching; and, to develop a strong culture for students and staff by increasing their capacity.

Crystal River has successfully implemented the first initiative through Matthew’s leadership. He attributes a great deal of his success to the rich environment and support that the Richie program provided him. “Everything I learned at Ritchie was applicable and really great preparation for the work we are now doing… They taught me to have a vision and every day they stressed the importance of values-based leadership” stated Koenigsknecht.

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

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.


Copyright © 2018 University of Denver. | All rights reserved. | The University of Denver is an equal opportunity affirmative action institution
X
MENU