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Finding New Ways to Support the Whole Child | Denver Public Schools
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Finding New Ways to Support the Whole Child

Apr. 28, 2017
 
A student from High Tech Early College, which was named one of DPS' Whole Child Innovation Fund school recipients.
A student from High Tech Early College, which was named one of DPS' Whole Child Innovation Fund school recipients.

“We want to encourage our schools to think innovatively about how to best meet the social, emotional and mental health needs of our kids.”

Dear DPS Community,

Supt. Tom Boasberg

Supt. Tom Boasberg

One of the central parts of our Denver Plan 2020 is a focus on the Whole Child. As parents and educators, we know that our children’s academic growth can never be and should never be separate from their growth as whole children — that we need to focus just as much on their social and emotional growth and their opportunities in arts, music and sports as we do on their core academic subjects.

That is why the biggest piece of the 2016 mill levy approved by Denver voters is funding to support the whole child in each and every DPS school. We want to use this funding to significantly increase social and emotional supports in our schools by enabling schools to hire the counselors, social workers, nurses and school psychologists they need.

We also want to encourage our schools to think innovatively about how to best meet the social, emotional and mental health needs of our kids. That is why, in addition to the funds for every DPS school, we set aside $700,000 to foster an innovative cohort of seven schools who came up with the best ideas and plans around new and better ways to support whole child efforts in their schools.

Over 40 schools applied for the Whole Child Innovation Funds (an indication of just how great the whole child needs are in our schools), and at the end of the day, the seven schools with the best plans were:

  • Doull Elementary
  • High Tech Elementary School
  • High Tech Early College
  • Manual High School
  • McGlone Academy
  • Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment
  • Place Bridge Academy

These schools will use the additional investments with a targeted emphasis on enhancing social and emotional learning — the skills and confidence kids need to build strong relationships, manage emotions and make good decisions.

And they will work together as an innovation cohort to share their learning and best practices with each other. It is our hope and belief that through this process we will learn more about our most effective ways of addressing our whole child needs, and then use that learning with all our schools. And, if successful, we hope to build on their success to make a case to the public about how targeted whole child investments of this scale can have a dramatic impact on student success.

We are grateful to Denver voters for your support of the 2016 mill levy and will update you on the progress of these seven schools in the months to come.

Best,
Tom


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Thousands of Students Perform at Shakespeare Festival

Students from McMeen Elementary participate in the Shakespeare Festival opening ceremony.

Students from McMeen Elementary participate in the Shakespeare Festival opening ceremony.

Wearing theatrical costumes and practicing their best Old English accents, more than 5,000 DPS students from 84 schools took over the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Friday for the 33rd Annual Shakespeare Festival — the oldest and largest student Shakespeare festival in the country.

“I think the Shakespeare Festival is important because not only do you learn about Shakespeare’s plays and acting, you also learn about speaking in front of people, which gives you more confidence,” said Serenity, a fourth-grader from Fairview Elementary.

The daylong festival is held downtown every year, with contributions from the DPS Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts providing the opportunity for students to perform scenes and sonnets from the works of William Shakespeare, as well as demonstrate the dance, vocal and instrumental music of the era.

“The Shakespeare Festival brings together students of every grade level, from our youngest students to high school students, and from diverse Denver neighborhoods, to perform together,” said DPS Foundation President Verónica Figoli. “They learn classic literature, but they also learn invaluable lessons about culture and coming together, literally setting the stage for their future development.”

Learn more about the festival here.


Two DPS High Schools Named in Top Three Best High Schools in Colorado

Twelve DPS high schools were named among the “Best High Schools in America” and are receiving national recognition in the 2017 U.S. News and World Report’s list. The rankings included data on more than 22,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and looked at criteria such as overall student performance, disadvantaged student performance, graduation rates and how well schools prepare students for college.

DPS rankings for Colorado’s best high schools in 2017 are: 

  • #2 DSST: Stapleton High School – Gold Medal
  • #3 KIPP Denver Collegiate High School – Gold Medal
  • #12 Denver Center for International Studies – Gold Medal
  • #13 DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School – Gold Medal
  • #14 Denver School of the Arts – Gold Medal
  • #28 Thomas Jefferson High School – Silver Medal
  • #46 George Washington High School – Silver Medal
  • #49 DCIS at Montbello – Bronze Medal

Other DPS high schools were recognized in the report as well:

  • DSST: Cole High School – Bronze Medal
  • Girls Athletic Leadership School High School – Bronze Medal
  • STRIVE Prep – Excel – Bronze Medal
  • STRIVE Prep – Smart Academy – Bronze Medal

“We have amazing students and families. Their partnership with our educators throughout the district is a big reason why our kids continue to thrive,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “I am proud of the work that our teams put in every day to ensure that all of our kids graduate ready for college and career.”

Learn more and see the full list of Colorado high school rankings here.


Families are Invited to Attend the Upcoming Superintendent Parent Forum on Closing the Opportunity Gap

All DPS families are invited to the final Superintendent Parent Forum of the school year Tuesday, May 2, to discuss how DPS is working to close the opportunity gap.

In school districts around the country, there are disparities between the achievement of white students and those of other student groups, such as students of color. These are caused by a lack of equitable opportunities for all students to succeed, or an opportunity gap. During the forum, Superintendent Tom Boasberg will discuss DPS’ strategies in closing the opportunity gap and ensuring academic success for all students. The honorees for the DPS Family Leadership Award will also be announced, and the forum will be followed by the monthly meeting of the ELA District Advisory Committee from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The forum will be held from 9:15-11:15 a.m. Tuesday, May 2, at the PPA Event Center, 2105 Decatur St. Refreshments, interpretation and child care will be provided at no cost.

Click here to register.


COMING UP…

May 2Superintendent Parent Forum: Closing the Opportunity Gap
May 8-12: Teacher Appreciation Week
May 19Citywide Elementary Art Show and Reception


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