Meet the 2018 finalists for The Succeeds Prize for Transformational Impact in a Middle School, sponsored by DaVita.
Carbondale Middle School - Carbondale
Carbondale Middle School’s goal is to increase academic, social, and emotional growth of all students. This goal is accomplished through two initiatives: (1) providing high quality learning experiences for all and (2) ensuring every student, every day will feel like they are valued at school. This focus has led to growth among all students, regardless of race or income.
As a small-town school, partnerships with parents and the community are key to leveraging resources to drive student success and support a variety of programs. The Outdoor Leadership program supports development of teamwork, communication, and decision-making skills. Pre-collegiate mentors guide seventh and eighth graders toward a successful, college-bound future.
To prepare students for their future, Carbondale’s Habits of the Scholar help students to hone their executive skills, perseverance, compassion, and enthusiasm on a daily basis. Student-designed and student-led activities have created a space for student voice and resulted in creative solutions. The school also has set behavioral expectations, which has cleared a path for more learning to take place.
Denver Green School - Denver
Denver Green School expects all students to achieve at a high level academically, to grow emotionally, and to develop the knowledge, skills and values to live a more sustainable life. The school has turned around a once closed campus to one of the highest achieving schools in the state, a feat they attribute to educating the whole child.
Denver Green School has pioneered a Shared Leadership model within their school. This means they use a 12-member partnership that uses consensus to make decisions, review progress, and set the direction for leadership. Teachers, administrators, and office staff all participate. Students, teachers, and families participate in regularly scheduled forums to provide feedback and direction.
The school focuses on long-term student development, from planning experiential learning opportunities to discussing difficult topics. Teachers have also shifted the classroom environment to facilitate student learning, rather than the sage-on-a-stage. All of this is in service of their sustainable model and approach to giving students a leg up in a rapidly changing world.
Murphy Creek K-8 - Aurora
Murphy Creek believes that relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and the community are essential to driving student growth. Students’ backgrounds and experiences are respected, and staff is focused on creating a culture that instills students with a growth mindset. A Culture of Thinking is used to focus on learning and conceptual understanding instead of producing the “right” answer. Teachers, in turn, provide less corrective feedback, allowing students to reach conclusions on their own and experience open-ended exploration.
Murphy Creek teachers meet regularly to review student data, align instruction, and determine strategies to support struggling students. Teachers are also trusted by school leadership and encouraged to innovate with new strategies, model risk-taking, and design curriculum to engage students. The school’s focus on high expectations for all motivates students to pursue college as a means to future success.
Murphy Creek is deeply committed to supporting their community and sees family partnerships as a two-way street. The school partners with a variety of civic and cultural organizations and is sensitive and responsive to the needs of struggling families.