Our DPS Weekly: Building Relationships to Build Strong Schools

Apr. 26, 2019

“We have students from over 30 countries and they all come from different cultures and backgrounds. It’s absolutely critical that we understand each student as well as their family and culture.”
— Prudence Daniels, Lead Partner, Denver Green School

Dear DPS Community,

Building relationships is one of the most important skills we can teach our students. We know that when students have strong relationships, they’re more likely to succeed in school.

Imagine you’re a child whose family is about to move to a new country. You’ll have to learn a new language, make new friends and adjust to a new school and a new way of life. This kind of change can feel scary and unsettling to children, which is why schools like the Denver Green School work to make sure that all their students, no matter their background or experience, feel welcome, safe and supported.

“We start by building a relationship,” said Prudence Daniels, one of the lead partners of Denver Green School. “We have students from over 30 countries and they all come from different cultures and backgrounds. It’s absolutely critical that we understand each student as well as their family and culture.”

“We have newcomers to our culture who, like all kids, are trying to figure out who they are,” said Liz Dawson, lead English Language Acquisition teacher. “Sometimes they try on different behaviors that aren’t always positive.”

If a student starts acting in a way that gets in the way of learning, the Denver Green School team focuses on how to address the behavior without negatively impacting the relationship. The school gets interpreters for families who need them and works collaboratively with their behavior team, which includes the school’s social worker, student advisors and the lead partners.

Dawson encourages educators to have compassion for what students have experienced and to be willing to listen in a way that honors students’ needs. Denver Green School works to create a culture that not only supports traditionally underserved students, but also ensures all students are an active part of the school culture.

“When we talk about culturally responsive education, we mean both instruction and social-emotional education. The approach we take needs to be appropriate for each student and takes their background into account,” added Dawson.

Dawson also explained the importance of holding all students to high expectations in academics and behavior. “A student may have experienced trauma or a significant life change, and we must have compassion for that. At the same time, we would be letting students down if we don’t encourage them to be the best that they can be.”

Students get excited when they are part of a school culture that honors and engages them. When we encourage our students to reach higher and push themselves, they find more resourcefulness and strength than they ever could have imagined.

Warm Regards,

Pictured above: Denver Green School celebrates Spirit Week as part of their culture to build strong relationships across the school.

DPS Students Honored at Mile High Scholars Ceremony

On Tuesday, students from all over DPS gathered at the Denver Coliseum to be honored at the Mile High Scholars event.

Each year, the mayor of Denver honors students from DPS as Mile High Scholars in a citywide ceremony. Students are selected by the principal and faculty of their school for modeling leadership skills, respecting the school environment and supporting his or her peers. Students receive a certificate and a picture with the mayor.

Congratulations to our Mile High Scholars!

Superintendent Susana Cordova, Board of Education President Anne Rowe and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock took photos with honorees.

Watch the Mile High Scholars 2019 Video

CSU System and Bruce Randolph School Sign MOU to Formalize Partnership

Earlier today, the Colorado State University System formalized its partnership with Bruce Randolph School during a public MOU-signing.

The CSU System has partnered with Bruce Randolph School on a variety of student-centered programs in recent years, including: an annual eighth-grade class visit to CSU’s Fort Collins campus, an annual community open house with the CSU Little Shop of Physics to inspire youth interest in science, equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) at the Denver-based CSU Temple Grandin Center and “Road to CSU” — an all-day event to equip ninth-graders for life beyond high school.

Instructional Superintendent Tony Smith, CSU President and CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank and Bruce Randolph School principal Melissa Boyd delivered brief remarks before signing the official Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Formalizing the partnership is intended to showcase the commitment of institutions for future efforts, collaboration and shared impact.

In 2022, CSU will open three buildings at the future National Western Center in north Denver — less than two miles from Bruce Randolph School — focused on experiential learning opportunities and research around today’s most pressing local and global challenges in food, water, sustainability and human and animal health.

Ninth-grader, Keyanna Younger spoke at the event and said, “Thank you, CSU, for supporting my dream.”

Special Olympics Unified Track and Field Competitions

This week, DPS athletes kicked off two days of track and field competitions hosted by Special Olympics Colorado. Elementary students competed on Wednesday and middle and high school students competed on Thursday. Each day began with a parade inside the All-City Stadium.

Athletes who participated had the opportunity to compete in relay races and build bonds with their teammates. Special Olympics’ motto is “Play United” and our DPS athletes got to do just that!

Special Olympics Colorado’s Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) for athletes with significant disabilities, was chosen as one of ESPN’s Special Olympics 50 Game Changers. ESPN filmed the competitions to tell the story of our game-changing programs that are creating school climates of acceptance and inclusion.