Students are preparing for college – and discovering careers – throughout the entirety of their education in Denver Public Schools (DPS).
No matter a student’s age, all eyes are on the same stage: graduation. Preparing a student for the challenges of college, careers and life is an integral part of DPS’ vision Every Child Succeeds and the Denver Plan 2020.
As a part of meeting the Denver Plan 2020 goals, DPS is striving for a significantly higher percentage of graduating students to be ready for college and careers. It is happening by inspiring, challenging and empowering students to forge their own futures, whether through rigorous classes, internships, concurrent enrollment with local college and universities, and through other opportunities.
The journey toward that stage, however, begins much earlier than middle and high school. It begins with conversations and character development in early childhood, kindergarten and elementary school.
“College comes up because we are talking about where we are going to be in 10 years, and how we are going to get there,” said Jessica Studley, a fourth grade teacher at Brown International Academy, an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school.
“We really focus on helping kids in social contexts relate to one another, which is the foundation. Then, it’s a focus on helping students build self-confidence, trust their classmates and feel safe taking risks with the work they are doing,” added Studley.
As students grow up, they also begin to develop more tangible hopes and dreams for the future. Middle school students have opportunities like the annual DPS 8th Grade College and Career Fair to ease nerves and establish meaningful relationships with local businesses, colleges and non-profit organizations.
“It is a little scary, because your life is moving so fast. We are going to be getting jobs soon and going to college,” said Tamara Todorovic, an eighth-grade student at Grant Ranch Middle School. “These (events) help me decide what kind of job I want to do in the future, and help make the decision much clearer for me.”
In addition to growing opportunities through DPS CareerConnect and a variety of community partners across Denver, students in high school also have resources like the Future Centers sponsored by the Denver Scholarship Foundation. The centers are staffed full-time by DSF college advisor, and provide a comfortable, motivating setting for students to apply for higher education opportunities with supports that they may not have available to them at home.
“I want to major in political science, and go for my graduate’s degree in law. Then I want to become an immigration or criminal justice lawyer in Colorado,” said Angelica Granados, a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School. “Because of this place, I definitely feel ready for college and life.”
For more information about college and career readiness in DPS, visit collegeandcareer.dpsk12.org.