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We are DPS Voices

We asked you to give a shout out to a DPS team member who helped you accomplish something great together. Thank you to everyone who responded! Read more below for these We are DPS stories, and be sure to share your own using #WeAreDPS.

Teammate Shout Out

Ellen has supported several new managers that have huge roles in DPS. She has dealt with some very challenging issues, especially around suicide. She supports her team and encourages them to more forward and lead. I would like to give Ellen a shout out for not only putting students first, but for also putting people first. I feel lucky and honored to be on her team.”

Michael Sykes, Manager of Behavior Strategies in Office of Social and Emotional Learning

“Shout out to Sarah Weaver, third-grade literacy teacher at Cory, who shared a literacy NPR podcast with me. We are now sharing the podcast with all the parents at our school and revising the way we teach literacy to better meet the needs of all our learners. Thanks for being on top of current literacy research Sarah. You helped the whole school.”

Sarah Clark, Senior Team Lead at Cory Elementary

“I would like to shout out Jordan Neri with the communications team. Since Jordan has joined the team she has helped us in implementation of college and career programming, graduation requirements, parent communication of UpNext and a number of other initiatives to help us get our kids to and through college. I wouldn’t know what to do without her and our students are so much better for her! I’ve included a picture of her helping students!”

– Samantha Haviland, Director of Counseling and College Access

“#WEAREDPS is often lived by KCAA’s very own Julie Waugh. This person is commitment to students first at all times. She gives up after school time to run the student store, promotes positive culture by organizing assemblies, and is always an advocate/champion for the students in need of it more. Thank you, Julie Waugh!”

– Kristie Burke, Teacher at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy

“We wanted to take the opportunity to recognize Paul Iwancio for exhibiting the DPS Shared Core Value of Collaboration. Paul is part of our Professional Learning Team. Paul is the master behind the scenes who carefully and intentionally designs screencasts, videos and a million other creative things to support our schools. When you collaborate with Paul, you know you are going to learn a lot, as he challenges those that create content to think outside the box about the audience, in order to ensure there is engagement and buy-in with whatever topic is being presented. In addition, Paul has high integrity and takes his work very seriously. It is important to him to ensure that he is delivering on his promises of having dynamic productions. He also cares deeply about people and you will often catch him singing ‘Happy Birthday’ with is ukulele to various DPS team members, which always adds value to people’s day. Thank you, Paul, for everything you do to support our schools!”

– Karen Buelow, Denise Harasim and Jennifer Harris, Human Resources

Mr. Chad Cook and Ms. Emmy Mansur from College View Elementary School decided to put students first by coaching soccer in the after school program. They did not know anything about that sport but they knew that was going to be a life-changing experience for most of our students. Besides, they were going to be able to do more character work through the program. They finished the first semester with a positive experience and they cannot wait to start the second semester.”

– Alexander León Guzmán, Math Interventionist at College View Elementary


we are built on our values poster

Which Value You Most Connect With

“Out of all the DPS Shared Core Values the one that most appeals to me is Accountability because without it our commitment to education would not hold true. We are all committed to Students First and their education, so holding ourselves each and every day to the same standards and commitment that we have made means a lot and it carries over to our students whose future is in our hands, even though in a small way in the role that I am in. Also holding students accountable every day for their own education, starting with punctuality, daily rituals and routines, and most of all their learning brings tremendous results for everyone and students learn to own their learning even if it is at their own pace; they get into the routine of expecting only the best out of themselves and each other and that brings success. Accountability counts towards success in education, career and life after that. If each and every one of us were held accountable or we were accountable for our own actions and their consequences, we would see huge changes in the world of education, in school, college and beyond.”

– Rashmi Gaitonde, Reading Intervention Paraprofessional at Green Valley Elementary

Equity is one of the values that is most meaningful to me at Denver Online High School. We have students coming to our school for a variety of circumstances, and as a Community Development Coordinator, it is vitally important to me that each student feels included, known, and heard. We developed a study to show how the quality of relationships impacts the success of our students. This ultimately lead to the creation of our Student Mentorship Program and faculty building more intentional relationships with students who were among the ‘left out.’ Equity also plays into all of our school events and field trips. As a school, we gather grants and supplement the rest to ensure that all students are able to attend our monthly field trips, including both transportation and admission, completely free. All students deserve an opportunity to grow and connect, so we work extremely hard to minimize any barriers for that to happen.”

– Kaci Sintek, Community Development Coordinator at Denver Online High School

“The DELTA team is showing off our DPS core value of Fun with our school and district gear!”

– Amanda Schuld, Office Manager at DELTA High School

My most treasured DPS value is Integrity. I consider Integrity the foundation of all of our other values because it is THAT important!  — to do what you say you are going to do and to do it with the highest of quality — no shortcuts — no excuses. With integrity, you can make mistakes, learn from them and try to make it right. Students and my colleagues respond to integrity; it means that you are humble, on the level of your students, and honest about your shortcomings. It means that you do your best and then ask for help. Integrity is a value that I can bring with me to work and then home again. It goes with me everywhere!! I am honored to be a part of a district that values Integrity.”

– Melanie Wheeler, School Psychologist at Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning  



we are dps posterWhy You Chose DPS

The first (and only!) school I interviewed with was McMeen. Despite the torrential downpour that dark and gloomy April afternoon, I immediately felt a sense of belonging. From the beautiful smiles of 600+ students and the relentless dedication from every educator in the building, to the dynamic families that embraced the rich diversity, I fully believed in the incredible learning opportunities that defined McMeen Elementary. I knew I found my family and a community that defined the core values of Denver Public Schools. Although I’m now in a different position in the district, McMeen will forever define my belonging in DPS.”

– Mary Varveris, Director in Extended Learning and Community Schools

“I came to DPS because of Jesse Tang. His quiet competence and great vision seem to nearly radiate from him. We will make it up that mountain yet!”

– Ami Hall, Teacher at Schmitt Elementary

“DPS allowed me to build character and pursue a higher education! I don’t think I would be where I am today without the support I received from DPS teachers and staff members.”

– Miguel Garcia, CEC Early College graduate

“I have been a team member of team DPS since July of this year. I have worked in two other school districts in School Bus Transportation for almost 23 years. I wanted to become part of the DPS team not only because of the values that we share on this team, but also because of the people. I have known quite a few people over the years here in DPS and every single person I have met exudes the core values of the district, and is happy here! Being a part of a like-minded organization has always been important to me. Sometimes people say they are part of a great team, but I KNOW I am part of a great team! From the moment I walked into my first interview, to the first day I came to work, everyone has been warm and inviting! There is no better feeling than being a part of a team that every wants to be a part of! When I tell people where I work, I am always proud to say I work for Team DPS!”

– Renee Hughes, Manager at Hilltop Terminal

“I came to DPS because I believe in DPS and in our kids. I believe I can make a difference in school libraries and help our students find the love of reading that will enable them to become lifelong learners.”

– Amanda Samland, Coordinator in Library Services

“Living and working at DPS has always been my intention since I moved to Denver. Being able to directly and positively affect the people in the area I live in is the ultimate goal as an educator. We teach that social change begins with one person and, as teachers, we must provide opportunities for students to learn and practice that. In my second year at DPS Cory Elementary school we began a partnership with immigrant and refugee students from South High School to interview them and then, using multiple mediums, tell the powerful stories of these amazing high school students which was so significant to everyone involved. Bringing people together to better understand each other and the world we live in makes all our lives better today and for our future. Working in the same community that I live in is truly a dream come true.”

– Sara Laughlin, Teacher at Cory Elementary

“En esta oportunidad quiero agradecer a Fátima Puelles del equipo de adquisición de talentos para DPS. Fátima fue crucial en mi proceso para llegar al lugar en donde me encuentro. Su ayuda y guia sirvieron de apoyo importante para mí durante el proceso para adquirir mi documentación pertinente y completar el proceso. Mil gracias a Fatima Puelles y a DPS.”

– Mildre Cuenca Rincon, Teacher at Farrell B. Howell

“I came to DPS because of Valeria Praga-Rodriguez, Elementary ELA-S Instructional Coordinator. She was a part of the program that had current teachers who called interested teachers and spoke about DPS, its values, and its programs. I was so impressed that a district would do that. I am now going on my 9th year in this district and have had the pleasure of working with Valeria in the ELA department on many projects, such as Paired Literacy and the Biliteracy Specialist PDU. It’s a pleasure that I can remember that phone call nine years and now be able to Valeria my friend.”

– Sara Hamilton, ELD Resources and Biliteracy Specialist at Joe Shoemaker Elementary

“It was quite by accident that I got into teaching. I had been unemployed for eight months and had acquired my sub license so I could sub while still looking for a full time job. My wife was an elementary teacher at Columbine ES and they were in need of a computer teacher. She mentioned me to her principal, Janice Spearman, and Janice asked if I’d come in for an interview that afternoon. I did and during the interview I was asked if I’d like to see the classroom I’d be teaching in. The position was grant funded so it only lasted the remainder of the school year, but I was hooked on teaching. During that year I was also asked to teach basic computer skills to our ELA students’ parents who were in an English acquisition program across the street. That was when I saw the big need for bilingual educators and started teaching myself enough Spanish to communicate with these parents. That was back in 2002-03 and I don’t think I’d want to teach anywhere other than DPS with the wonderful families we have here.”

– Michael Melosh, Teacher at Florence Crittenton High School

“Growing up in Denver, my entire family, including my parents and my grandmother attended DPS. I guess you could say it’s in my blood. When I first started as a student teacher, I was thrilled to return to my roots and this time see it from the lens of an educator. Now, I have two children that are DPS students and I couldn’t be more proud. I’m the chair of the CSC, so I wear multiple proud hats as a DPS employee, parent and alumni. The district has only continued to evolved and stretch during my time here. I am overjoyed to be part of a school district that intentionally influenced the trends nationally, invests in innovation and high quality programs and schools and most important, focuses on equity, access and success for ALL students.”

– Kelli Pfaff, Alumni, Parent and Team Member

“I used to work in a large urban school district out of state. When I heard of DPS’ core values and mission for a quality education for ALL children, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this movement. I packed up my UHaul trailer and my daughter and drove through the night to begin my career with DPS as a school psychologist. Now, I have the BEST job ever! Every morning I wake up and can’t wait to get to my school and be a part of the adventures with students, families, and staff.”

– Melanie Wheeler, School Psychologist