The Succeeds Prize is Back: Meet the Finalists

Transformational Impact in an Elementary School

The Succeeds Prize is back for the third year in a row, and every year we find more outstanding models of educators who are dedicated to evolving with the diverse needs of students in schools. Hosted by Colorado Succeeds, 9NEWS, and mindSpark Learning, The Prize highlights how different stakeholders can rally together to impact change. Sponsored by the Colorado business community, schools and educators receive recognition and a monetary prize in a live-reveal ceremony at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

The Succeeds Prize Awards are presented in two categories: Transformational Impact for a school and Excellence in Education for programs that model exceptional instruction that adapts to the needs of today’s students. We have traveled across the state with advisory committee members to tour schools that were identified through a robust investigation of Colorado School data. It was difficult to narrow down our top 9 finalist schools – 3 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools – but now, we want you to get to know them.

Vision 2030 is a guiding framework that allows us to take a closer look at what it will take to make certain every child will graduate high school with the skills they need to thrive in an uncertain future. Experts predict that 85% of the jobs in the year 2030 have not been invented yet – calling for a serious rededication from key stakeholders to ensure Colorado’s kids are set up for success. 

Aligning with Vision 2030 the three elementary school finalists in the Transformational Impact category demonstrate a real commitment to helping students develop soft skills and begin to understand and explore their interests as people.


Photo courtesy of APS

Aurora Quest K-8: Aurora Quest is dedicated to providing a strong educational foundation that supports the whole child and prepares students to be life-long problem solvers. They provide enrichment opportunities to ignite student curiosity, explore passions, and expose students to new experiences. “I am a big fan of the experiential learning programs they offer to all students, including Discover Days, Immersion and the Signature Experience,” said Rich Herbst, Vice President of Learning & Development, TTEC and Colorado Succeeds Board of Directors member after participating in a site visit to Aurora Quest K-8.

Mistakes are treated as learning opportunities to support a growth mindset in students who are developing the transferable skills they need. Quest teaches students how to share their thoughts and ideas, respectfully disagree, and push one another’s thinking on complex, nuanced problems. Students engage in learning that is rigorous and challenges them to push outside of their comfort zone, harnessing the “power of yet” to develop life-long learners who are resilient and focused on a growth-mindset.

Longfellow Elementary: At the end of the morning announcements at Longfellow Elementary, Principal Chuck McKenna leads the school in a mindfulness practice – allowing students and teachers time to be present in the day. The entire school and community cultivate a nurturing environment where students and staff enjoy being at school every single day.

Longfellow Elementary School teacher leads kindness lesson.

They focus on developing growth-mindsets and a social-emotional curriculum that provides students opportunities for deeper self-awareness and the ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships with others. On a site visit Sam Cox, Principal at Paonia Elementary School and 2018 Succeeds Prize winner, noted  “[I saw] a high level of collaboration amongst teachers that ensure the entire school community is looking out for every student.”

This culture of love and positivity has cultivated academic growth worthy of the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award the last seven years. With over 20 programs that bring parents into the school—including their unique Farm to School initiative—Longfellow Elementary is going above and beyond to meet the needs of their students and families.

Manassa Elementary: When you walk through the halls of Manassa Elementary with Principal Fringer, you don’t get very far before a student or teacher stops to say hello. The school is focused on helping raise and develop quality people who are prepared to reach their full potential. Leveraging technology as part of their everyday life, students are encouraged to always explain “why” and to work collaboratively with their peers to formulate and push their own thinking.

With a staff of educators from the same small community comprising its “school-based family”, Manassa works hard to nurture student interests and assist them in developing the skills they will need to be successful. Manassa has leveraged strategic partnerships and grants to build in the necessary supports for social and emotional learning.

The Elementary School Award in the Transformational Impact category is sponsored by TTEC. The winner will be announced in a live-reveal ceremony on September 19th at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Click here to learn more.

Vice President of Government Affairs
Colorado Succeeds