Although there have been numerous discussions around the need for a new high school in GVR, the conversation really started to pick up steam in 2005-06 when the Foundation for Educational Excellence, in partnership with the Stapleton Foundation and DPS, held a design competition to select design teams for the future GVR and Stapleton community high schools. Following the completion of the design competition process, DLR Group was selected to design the GVR high school.
The effort started back up during the summer of 2008, when DPS assembled a Citizens Committee for Capital Needs to explore a possible bond program. After meeting for nearly four months, the Capital Needs Committee approved a bond package, which included only one new school project – the Early Childhood (ECE) through 12th grade shared campus. The DPS Board of Education approved the bond package and the voters of Denver unanimously approved the DPS bond in November 2008. In January 2009, HC Development, an affiliated company of Oakwood Homes was selected through a competitive RFP process to serve as the project’s “turnkey” developer.
Far Northeast Zone of Innovation
Since 2005, the Foundation has sponsored the start-up and creation of an 18 school Far Northeast Denver planning network among each of the region’s principals. In 2006, the group was formally named, the “Principals Leadership Council” and has focused much of its attention on solving regional issues, leveraging resources, expanded professional development for teachers, and establishing a common vision and mission across the network to better serve students. The PLC is made up of elementary, middle, and high school principals, from both charter and traditional public schools. If the PLC schools were a district, they would be the 8th largest district in Colorado, with over 12,000 students.
For more information go to www.plczone.net
Early Childhood Education
The “school ready” effort focuses on providing and preparing children from birth to age five for kindergarten through proven, research-based early childhood programs. The Foundation organizes services across all 18 schools and works closely with the Denver Preschool Program, DPS, and private providers to expand the number of available preschool and Kindergarten slots. In addition, we provide parent workshops covering topics such as infant and toddler development and early literacy to help parents become their child’s first teacher. By providing quality early childhood education and parent support, every child will enter Kindergarten ready to learn.
College and Career Readiness
The “college and career ready” effort focuses on outlining for parents and students beginning in fifth grade, the critical steps they will need to make in order to prepare themselves for advanced learning beyond high school. Our Life-Long Success Coordinator will work across all 18 schools to organize programs, events, and services for grades 5-12 to prepare students for a range of advanced learning options including two to four year colleges, technical certificates, apprenticeship programs, and the workforce. In addition, we provide parent financial planning workshops, career and internship fairs, college exploration events, and resume and interview skill workshops. Our hope is to move the dream of college from a possibility to a reality.
Martin Luther King Jr. Early College High School
In June 2005, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education approved MLK’s comprehensive Revitalization Plan that set out to transform the school from a traditional middle school to a 6th –12th grade early college high school over the next five years. Lead by a 30-member revitalization committee of parents, students, teachers, community leaders, and the Foundation for Educational Excellence, the committee established a bold new mission for the school to, “fundamentally transform MLK and its culture, in partnership with the community, into a top performing educational center that provides students the flexibility to pursue their dreams and passions through various educational curriculum options that meet their specific learning styles and prepares them for high school, college, and beyond”.
High school grades will be added with the addition of 9th graders in August 2006.
Early Learning Centers
FFEE as part of its revised vision and mission (2005) has begun to identify possible partnerships for the development and execution of critical Early Learning Centers for its communities. Research clearly indicates the important role early learning can play in the development of our youngest citizens toward their long-term educational success.
E-470 Education Master Planning Project
Over the next twenty-five years, nearly 50,000 new homes are on the drawing board across multiple developments that will require, among other things, 22 new schools all of which will be located in Aurora Public Schools. With this substantial residential growth comes a whole range of challenges and opportunities. In addition to the financial costs, there are related and equally important social costs (investments) that will be required to help create self-sustaining communities among a diverse group of residents.
Ultimately, the Summit and subsequent work effort in 2006 will set the stage for the development of a comprehensive education master planning document that will, among other things:
Propose a new vision for future (new) school planning and development
Existing school revitalization
Establish guiding principles for innovative public/private partnership development and school reform efforts based upon best (proven) practices
Offer strategies to help achieve this new vision
Propose a series of bold recommendations for consideration by Aurora Public Schools, the city of Aurora, and the community
The education master plan will serve as a dynamic road map to assist community leaders and elected officials to chart a course of the future that is flexible, yet highly focused on maximum community impact and benefit for Aurora residents. The plan is not intended to “set in stone” a rigid set of absolutes, but instead form the basis for a place to start that can and will evolve as the issues before us warrant – that is simply a reality of the world we live in today. One final note, as a community we should be clear that there is not a moment to loose toward this important planning effort. It would be fair to say that all the participants recognize and believe that the master planning goals, objectives, and desired outcomes must be squarely aligned with what is in the best interest of students.
Successful new school development and school reform efforts require projects and programs that can ultimately sustain themselves after the initial investments are made. Here are two such examples that the foundation has engaged in for the long-term benefit of children through quality, highly focused partnerships:
Omar D. Blair Charter School (GVR Shared Use Facility Complex)
Omar D. Blair Charter School, which opened in August 2004, serves 800+ students in grades K-8, and is managed by the award winning Edison Schools, Inc. Funded through tax dollars Edison remains open and accessible to all students. However, grade levels will be organized into academies, allowing each group to function as a smaller learning community. To maintain a high level of interest, each of these academies lasts two years making students eligible for graduation onto the next level based on their performance. The Primary Academy contains grades K-2, the Elementary Academy contains grades 3-5, and the Junior Academy contains grades 6-8. The school building enjoys the advantage of being connected to the city recreational center and the outdoor park, plaza and amphitheater.
The 21st Century High Technology Academy’s:
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and Montbello High School
Not long after its formation in 1997, FFEE launched its first initiative in partnership with Denver Public Schools to create a school within a school at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School called the “The 21st Century High Tech Academy”. The program enrolled 6th – 8th graders by application up to 300 students. Key components of the program included: smaller class sizes, use of advanced technology to support learning, and strong support from specially trained teachers. In an editorial published in the Denver Post on February 14, 1997, the paper noted – The foundation’s most useful work, however, may simply be fostering cooperation between the schools, business, and community”.
In 2000, the program expanded to Montbello High School for students to continue their high tech experiences as part of a seamless transition into the high school years. As of 2005, the two high tech programs, across grades 6-12 had served thousands of students over the past nine years. In recent years the programs were evolving to address the changing needs of the community’s students as part of broader school revitalization efforts at both MLK and Montbello High School.