There is no more important investment that we can make as a society than in education. The scholars of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and ensuring that they are prepared for that experience is crucial if Colorado and our nation are to continue to thrive.
It is in that spirit that we’d like to recognize the finalists for The Succeeds Prize Transformational Impact in an Elementary School.
The Succeeds Prize is the most prestigious awards and recognition event for Colorado’s public schools and educators. It honors Colorado’s public schools and educators that are making a meaningful difference in the lives of their students. It also serves as a year-long campaign to implement and scale successful innovations and practices statewide, so every student in Colorado can benefit.
Pioneer Elementary School in Fort Morgan
Pioneer Elementary School was recognized because the mantra “students first” and “team first” aren’t just words, they are guiding principles that influence the experience of every student, teacher, and staff member. Here you’ll find educators collaborating, small and targeted reading groups, engaged parents, and activities such as Cheetah Choristers and Math Club.
The staff at Pioneer Elementary School value compassion and patience, and they make Pioneer, a school with learners from all over the world, a place of joy, happiness and learning for all.
Pioneer Elementary School attributes their success to concerted efforts to address the unique needs of its diverse learners in grades one through three. While class sizes have increased in recent years, the school has ensured that reading groups, especially in the lower grades, are small in numbers. One tactic is to “flood” the classrooms during reading time with available personnel, which can range from the presence of para-professional staff as well as Specials Teachers into the general education classrooms.
Soaring Eagles Elementary School in Colorado Springs
Soaring Eagles Elementary School says fluid reading groups, collaboration, and a systematic approach to data analysis are the keys to their success.
Grade level teams use data notebooks to track and support student learning. Prior to the start of the school year, the school leadership team analyzes results of the previous year’s state assessments to identify trends, focus on subgroups, and identify strengths and weaknesses in order to adjust instruction based on incoming students. Throughout the year, formative assessments are then used to guide instruction and ensure student learning. The school also uses DiBELS to monitor the progress of all students. Teachers and paraprofessionals collaborate to identify interventions for specific areas that are indicated by the data.
Additionally, the staff at Soaring Eagles have introduced computer labs and before-school programs to support the development of students’ 21st century skills and well-rounded interests.
Valdez Elementary School in Denver
Valdez Elementary School is a Denver Public Schools Dual Language school with “Innovation” status. Valdez fosters a cohesive, positive, and intentional school culture for all students and families. Its dual-language immersion model values native language while supporting all students to become bi-literate and bilingual. And a Montessori early childhood education and kindergarten program supports the community’s youngest learners.
The school’s visual and cultural arts are the backbone of connecting the school’s mission of supporting all students in not only becoming bilingual and biliterate, but bicultural. The staff recognizes that art and culture cannot be separated from one another, and the arts vividly support students to recognize and celebrate the similarities and differences each individual brings to their community. All K-5 students participate in physical education, music or art on a rotating daily basis, and all are standards-based and offer hands-on opportunities.
We are excited to provide this sneak peak of what makes our Elementary School finalists special so we can identify opportunities to replicate it and share these successes with schools throughout the state.