This week, the most prestigious awards and recognition event for Colorado’s public schools and educators took place, and lots of us in the ed community are still buzzing about it. (Psssst! We’re talking about The Succeeds Prize!)
If you didn’t attend the event at Ellie Caulkins Opera House, you may have caught the livestream or a recap on 9News, given that The Succeeds Prize is made possible through a partnership with 9News, Colorado Succeeds and mindSpark Learning.
By now you’ve probably seen the congratulatory tweets and Facebook posts for the winners, who are sharing $150,000 in cash prizes to extend the transformational impact they’ve had on kids across Colorado.
But what you don’t know about the four schools and two groups of educators that were honored is just how each of them are making a difference in the lives of their students and the communities around them.
And if we’re going to make Colorado the “State of Education,” we all need to be in the know about what’s working in our schools so that every kid can be set up for his or her own future success.
So with that, here are six things you should know about this year’s winners of The Succeeds Prize
The Eagles of Paonia Elementary School could teach everyone a thing or two about effective communication.
At Paonia, Elementary, teachers believe the most important skills students can learn are how to be effective communicators, collaborators, and critical thinkers. Starting in kindergarten, students work in teams to learn how to communicate with each other and share ideas and experiences that promote the abilities of the entire class. Students further develop their presentation skills in a technology lab where they participate in a variety of projects that prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of middle school. The focus on effective communication also extends to school educators. Teachers and school leaders work closely to consistently discuss the needs of students by meeting weekly to share student performance data and teaching strategies to ensure the success of every child.
When every student at Carbondale Middle School feels known and valued, they can’t help but learn every day.
With its high number of students with social-emotional academic and executive skills challenges, Carbondale Middle School develops a variety of cognitive and social-emotional supports specific to the needs of each student. More broadly, teachers and leaders prioritize a caring environment so that every student has the space and time to feel like they’re part of the “crew.” Crew is a dedicated time during the school day for all students to focus on their own character skills, social emotional learning and academic goal setting. Each student has their own crew leader that helps building relationships, provide academic advisement, character development and the encouragement for students to take healthy risks and try new, challenging things. All Crew leaders are trained on growth mindset, trauma informed classrooms, no bully practices and restorative practices to promote a positive school culture where everyone feels like part of the crew all day.
Some of the most interculturally competent citizens in Colorado are changing the world from a classroom at Denver Center for International Studies (DCIS).
As a national model for pre-collegiate international education, DCIS works to develop multilingual, interculturally competent citizens who will make an unforgettable mark on our world. During their time at DCIS, students can become fluent in one of six world languages, which comes in pretty handy for those students who choose to study abroad! By the time students leave DCIS to conquer the world around them, they do so with
their name on a well-deserved International Studies diploma.
If there’s a job that doesn’t yet exist, a student from Northridge Elementary School will probably be the first to nab it.
At Northridge Elementary, everyone is motivated to seek the answer to one question: How might we design a way to get better? The school’s STEM By Design model—which includes technology integration, 21st century skills, problem solving, personalized learning, and forming connections—is embedded
into everything teachers and students do and believe. As a Race to the Top STEM school Northridge elementary engages students in real world learning experiences that lead to meaningful connections between school the community and the world. And one day, many of these same students will likely prepare for the jobs of tomorrow at the soon-to-open Innnovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools, where the district’s high school students partner with businesses to provide students with real world work experience.
With all the new homes popping up in Denver, the construction companies might want to start recruiting from Green Mountain High School, because their math skills are sure to be on point.
When Green Mountain High School hired the creator of the Geometry in Construction Program to partner with their math department, there was just one thing missing — a toolbox. And we’re not talking about a protractor and compass. The Geometry in Construction program, which is not new to Colorado, helps students to learn their math skills through building a home for a family in need. But with no nails, hammer or a drill, students at Green Mountain would be forced to approach their math problems from the usual four corners of their classroom. Thanks to the Succeeds Prize Innovation award, students can work with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for local families while building their skills in geometry at the same time.
A family vacation inspired Colorado’s 2017 Teacher of the Year to bridge the technological divide between students
When Sean Wybrant, traveled with his family to Saipan (a tropical island near Guam) over the summer, the poverty he witnessed and lack of access to technology inspired his idea to create augmented and virtual reality learning experiences for both the students in Saipan as well as his students back home in Colorado. While his students at Palmer High had already been developing virtual and augmented reality related projects, the Technology Enabled Learning Award from The Succeeds Prize will allow Sean to expand those experiences to students in Saipan and create opportunities for students in both locations to interact with and learn from one another. Sean said, “Colorado’s students are capable of having a tremendous impact on the world, if we give them the opportunity.” And thanks to The Succeeds Prize, it looks like students from other corners of the world might just have a positive impact on Colorado’s students as well.
Each of the winners above received a $15,000 cash prize and will work with Colorado Succeeds, 9NEWS, and mindSpark Learning to tell the story of its success to educators, policymakers, and businesses across the state. Runners up in each category received between $2,500 and $5,000. We’ll be sure to check in with each of the winners throughout the year to see how all of them continue to transform the educational experience of Colorado’s kids.
Photo Credit: McLeod 9 Creative