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Five Years Later: How Teacher Leadership is Changing DPS

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“We know the quality of our teachers is the single most important factor in our schools and in the success of our kids. Thank you to all of the teachers and supporters who took a chance on Teacher Leadership & Collaboration.”

Supt. Tom Boasberg

Supt. Tom Boasberg

Dear DPS Community,

Five years ago, DPS teacher Cheryl Cordova was presented with an opportunity — to continue her role as a teacher half-time while using her second half of the day leading a team of teachers in her school. Although unsure of what was ahead, Cheryl accepted the opportunity and became one of the pioneers in DPS’ teacher leadership pilot.

Our purpose in initiating teacher leadership was to restructure decades-old roles in schools in order to provide teachers more coaching and feedback and to establish stronger teacher teams and school leadership teams.

Today this leadership model, known as Teacher Leadership & Collaboration (TLC), has been expanded to almost every DPS-run school, earning a 90% effective rating from teachers and being lauded as an exemplar around the country. It is by far the country’s largest teacher leadership model, where we respect teachers’ desire to both continue the work they love in the classroom and to expand their impact by leading teams of teachers in their schools.

And Cheryl, one of our TLC pioneers, has seen firsthand the difference this opportunity has made in her school and for her students.

Teacher Leaders Sara Thornton, Stacey Hervey and Cheryl Cordova were among those celebrated by board member Jennifer Bacon and the rest of the Board of Education Thursday, honoring their five years of service in a Teacher Leader role.

Teacher Leaders Sara Thornton, Stacey Hervey and Cheryl Cordova were among those celebrated by board member Jennifer Bacon and the rest of the Board of Education Thursday, honoring their five years of service in a Teacher Leader role.

“When I first began, I’m not sure I could have imagined the impact TLC would have on students, teachers and myself,” said Cheryl, who is a Senior Team Lead at Force Elementary. “It’s been such a blessing to grow in both, as a leader and as a teacher.”

It’s been five years since the TLC program was launched in 14 pilot schools. And today, I’m honored to celebrate our five teachers who have been Teacher Leaders every year since the program started. They all have had the courage to try something new and innovate, and they continue to make a difference as Teacher Leaders today. Congratulations to:

  • Kyler Albert, Gust Elementary
  • Cheryl Cordova, Force Elementary
  • Marie Gruber, Westerly Creek Elementary
  • Stacey Hervey, CEC Early College
  • Sara Thornton, Schmitt Elementary

The TLC program is making a big difference for the teachers they lead and their students.

“What’s most impactful is that not only do I know my students well, but my Teacher Leader knows my students well,” said Morgan Varney, who teaches at Force Elementary and is supported by Cheryl as her Senior Team Lead. “Most of my students, if not all, are on grade level and going into first grade really prepared. It’s a huge difference to have another adult in the classroom, making an impact on our students’ lives.”

Just as TLC helps our educators continue to grow, as leaders and as teachers, the program itself is continuing to develop, too. We’re excited to announce our first cohort of the Thrive Fellowship. The goal of the Thrive Fellowship will be to provide our Teacher Leaders the opportunity to learn together and strengthen their leadership skills. The fellowship will launch this summer and the cohort will meet regularly throughout the 2018-19 school year.

We’re also excited to announce TLC’s new Preservice Mentor role. Selected Preservice Mentors will host an aspiring teacher in their classroom and provide coaching and model best instructional practices. (Click here to learn more or email Erin_Lynne@dpsk12.org for more information.)

We know the quality of our teachers is the single most important factor in our schools and in the success of our kids. Thank you to all of the teachers and supporters who took a chance on Teacher Leadership & Collaboration. I look forward to the next five years of TLC, and beyond, and the positive impact it will have on our students.

Best,
Tom

Pictured above: Watch this video highlighting five years of the Teacher Leadership & Collaboration (TLC) model.


Our Thoughts Go Out to the Texas Community

Today, our country suffered another unthinkable tragedy with a horrific shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Our heart and thoughts go out to the victims, their families and the entire community.

In DPS, we are committed to keeping our kids and educators safe. Read this message from Superintendent Tom Boasberg from February about how we’re protecting our schools, including more information about the trainings and protocols students and staff members are trained on in case of emergencies.

Please encourage your children to talk to a school counselor or call Safe2Tell at 1-877-542-7233 (SAFE) if they ever have concerns about safety at their school.

We, as a district, will continue to work with others around the city and country to find solutions that will keep our kids safe and our classrooms a place of learning, exploration and joy — as they are meant to be.


African-American Young Ladies’ Summit Connects Students and Professionals

Senator Rhonda Fields, Sylvia Bookhardt from the DPS CELT team and DPS students at the African-American Young Ladies' Summit.

Senator Rhonda Fields, Sylvia Bookhardt from the DPS CELT team and DPS students at the African-American Young Ladies’ Summit.

Today, more than 160 ninth- through 11th-grade students gathered at George Washington High School for the first-ever African-American Young Ladies’ Summit. The summit was organized to provide young African-American women with the opportunity to connect with professionals about career advice and guidance, a space for them to discuss issues and challenges they face and support one another.

The event’s organizers recognized a need for social and emotional supports designed specifically for young African-American women in the DPS community.

“Today, the ladies attending the event saw women young and older who look like them, who have had similar experiences and who care about them now and in their future,” said Plashan McCune, one of the Summit’s organizers. “They were able to hear and be heard.”

More than 60 African-American professional women met with attendees in small groups to discuss their careers and listen to students’ career aspirations to offer support and guidance. The students also had the opportunity to interact with a panel of professionals, a keynote address by State Senator Rhonda Fields and meet representatives from businesses at an internship and career fair.

McCune says she would like this to become an annual event. “I’d like this event to become a space where young ladies can come together, support one another and put together plans for their futures. My hope is that we create and build upon a number of programs, activities and events that are responsive to the young ladies’ expressed and known needs.”


DPS Features Video: Diving into STEM at Hill Campus

When a dozen middle school students from Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences took a dive into the Thomas Jefferson High School pool, they weren’t preparing for a swim meet. Instead, they took their remote operated vehicle — or ROV — for an exhausting robotic swim through hoops in preparation for an upcoming international STEM competition.

“I loved just building it, and also the problem solving,” said eighth-grade student Maria Cook. “If the hook doesn’t work or a rudder is malfunctioning, I like thinking of creative solutions.”

Cook and her classmates in the Hill chapter of the Technology Student Association — a STEM class offered at schools across the country — qualified for the competition with a quick and flashy underwater robotic boat of sorts, which they built from scratch with PVC pipe, wires and switches.


COMING UP…

May 16-June 6: DPS Graduation Commencement Ceremonies
May 25: Board of Education Special Meeting
May 31: Last Day of Classes for Most DPS Schools