12 Colorado Schools Named Finalists for The Succeeds Prize 2017

9NEWS, Colorado Succeeds, and mindSpark Learning are excited to announce the finalist and honorable mention schools for The Succeeds Prize 2017 awards for Transformational Impact as well as Excellence in STEM Education. The Succeeds Prize is the state’s most prestigious awards and recognition event honoring transformational public schools and educators. Four winners will be announced at a live reveal celebration on Oct. 3 at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver. The winners will share $60,000 in cash awards.

“The Succeeds Prize is a celebration of Colorado’s educators – one that gives us the opportunity to recognize and reward what is working in our schools while also sharing these best practices with educators and schools statewide,” said Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, an honorary co-host of The Succeeds Prize and longtime champion for education in Colorado. “Congratulations to the finalists and honorable mention schools. We applaud their excellent work and look forward to diving deeper into the transformational impact these schools and educators are leading.”


The Succeeds Prize finalists and honorable mention schools are listed alphabetically below:

Transformational Impact in an Elementary School – Presented by TeleTech


  • Pioneer Elementary School in Fort Morgan
  • Soaring Eagles Elementary School in Colorado Springs
  • Valdez Elementary School in Denver

Honorable Mentions:

  • Homestead Elementary School in Centennial
  • Ouray Elementary School in Ouray

Transformational Impact in a Middle School – Presented by DaVita


  • KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy in Denver
  • Mountain Vista Community School in Colorado Springs
  • Victory Preparatory Academy in Commerce City

Honorable Mentions:

  • Cardinal Community Academy in Keenesburg
  • Mountain Sage Community School in Fort Collins

Transformational Impact in a High School


  • Denver School of Science and Technology: Green Valley Ranch High School in Denver
  • Holly High School in Holly
  • Thomas MacLaren State Charter School in Colorado Springs

Honorable Mentions:

  • Denver Center for International Studies in Denver
  • Hotchkiss High School in Hotchkiss

Excellence in STEM Education – Presented by Ball Corp.  


  • Bristol Elementary School in Colorado Springs
  • Denver School of Science and Technology: Byers Middle School in Denver
  • Strawberry Park Elementary School in Steamboat Springs

Honorable Mentions:

  • Denver School of Science and Technology: Green Valley Ranch High School in Denver
  • Fremont Elementary School in Florence

The Succeeds Prize Selection Committee used a three-step, data-driven process for identifying and rewarding transformational public schools in Colorado. First, the committee used publicly available school performance data, including a formula that measures the growth of individual students with an emphasis on traditionally underserved students, to collect the top 25 schools for each category.

Second, the committee narrowed down the top 25 to a top-three-per-award category through a deliberation process that was informed by additional measures of school performance and characteristics about the school. The names of these schools were masked during these two steps, ensuring the committee focused solely on student outcomes.

Finally, the committee will decide the award winners by reviewing information and conducting interviews with school leaders, teachers, parents, and community members, to be collected during site visits to each of the top three schools for each award. Interviews and site visits will take place at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

The Succeeds Prize Selection Committee Members

The Succeeds Prize Selection Committee is composed of Colorado education, government, and business leaders. Ninety-four percent of committee members have taught in a classroom, led a school building, served on a school board, or worked in a district or state agency. Members of the committee are:

  • Katy Anthes – Commissioner at the Colorado Department of Education
  • Elliott Asp – Senior Partner at the Colorado Education Initiative and a former interim Commissioner at the Colorado Department of Education
  • Joey Diaz – Special Education Teacher at Risley International School of Innovation in Pueblo
  • Pat Donovan – Vice President of Business Development at Revolution Foods and Founding Board Chair of Rocky Mountain Prep
  • Bruce Hoyt – Senior Vice President of Impact Investing at Gary Community Investments and a former Denver Public Schools Board Member
  • Joan Kniss – 2002 Colorado Teacher of the Year and a Brighton City Council member
  • Kellie Lauth – CEO of mindSpark Learning and STEM Coordinator at Adams 12 Five Star Schools
  • Nina Lopez – Owner of Nina Lopez Consulting and a former strategy advisor for the Colorado Education Initiative, Colorado Department of Education, and Colorado Children’s Campaign
  • Justin McMillan – Principal at Casey Middle School in Boulder
  • Mike Miles – CEO of Academy of Advanced Learning in Aurora and Colorado Springs and former Superintendent at Harrison School District and Dallas Independent School District
  • Alyssa Pearson – Associate Commissioner of Accountability, Performance, and Support at the Colorado Department of Education
  • Linda Reed – Superintendent at Archuleta School District 50 in Pagosa Springs
  • Mark Sass – Colorado State Policy Director at TeachPlus, U.S. Dept. of Education Teaching Fellow, and a Teacher at Legacy High School in Adams 12
  • Dan Snowberger – Superintendent of Durango School District 9-R
  • Lynne Valencia – Vice President of Community Relations at 9NEWS
  • Kristin Van Deman – Instructional Guide at Aurora Public Schools
  • Alyssa Whitehead-Bust – Independent Education Consultant and former Chief Academic and Innovation Officer at Denver Public Schools
  • Sean Wybrant – 2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year and CTE Teacher at William J. Palmer High School in Colorado Springs

In addition to the $60,000 in cash awards, The Succeeds Prize is also offering a $15,000 Excellence in Education Innovation Award, sponsored by Janus Henderson Investors, to self-nominated educators. A separate committee will select the winner, which will also be revealed at The Succeeds Prize event on Oct. 3.

The Succeeds Prize inaugural event is a partnership between Colorado Succeeds and 9NEWS/KUSA. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, and former governors Bill Ritter and Bill Owens are serving as honorary hosts. The Succeeds Prize also serves as a year-long campaign to identify, implement, and scale successful innovations and best practices so every student in Colorado can benefit. It is powered by mindSpark Learning, a nonprofit dedicated to evolving education through educators.

For information on the awards, tickets to the event, or sponsorship, visit TheSucceedsPrize.org or contact info@thesucceedsprize.org.

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