For the first time, Stapleton and Park Hill families will have equal priority for five middle schools, including two brand new schools. These schools are options as “choice” schools for families outside of the Stapleton/Park Hill boundary area.
Our downloadable guide offers a side-by-side comparison of the five shared boundary schools for Park Hill and Stapleton and is available here. A map showing the location of the five schools is posted at the bottom of this page, and a daily schedule for each school can be viewed here.
The text below presents a brief summary of the enrollment process, the five principals’ responses to common parent questions and parent comments.
A map showing the location of the five schools is posted at the bottom of this page, and a daily schedule for each school can be viewed here.
The five schools have many similarities: uniforms or dress code, college preparatory classes, competitive sports teams, service learning opportunities, after school programming, English Language Learner Services and PE. Our five-column chart will help families identify some of the differences.
The DPS transportation policy for the middle schools in the Greater Park Hill/Stapleton shared boundary for 2014-15 will be posted on the Front Porch website in January 2014.
Hill Middle School (grades 6-8) is the boundary school for Montclair, Mayfair, Hale, Lowry, East Colfax and East Montclair. A downloadable pdf with the comparative chart information, principal’s responses, and schedule can be viewed here.
The same information for The Odyssey School, grades K-8, is also available here. The Odyssey School is a charter option in Northeast Denver and currently has middle school openings.
Choice Enrollment Overview:
• Sign up for an online account at your child’s school or at https://myportal.dpsk12.org/Pages/Default.aspx
• Allow 5-7 days to create your account. A student ID# and email address are required.
• Research schools and choose your top five. (Families in shared boundary schools need to list all five schools in order of preference. Families with only one neighborhood boundary school—Hill Middle School for Lowry, Montclair, Mayfair, East Colfax—can choose to list only their neighborhood school and omit the other choices, if desired.)
• Submit your choice form at any DPS school or online between Dec. 16 and Jan. 31 at 4pm. If you don’t receive an online confirmation please contact the Choice & Enrollment Office at 720.423.3493. If you turn in a paper form, ask for a date-stamped copy.
• You will receive a letter with school placement approximately March 1.
Principals’ Responses to Questions
What do (will) you do to ease the transition from elementary to middle school?
Denver Discovery School—We have a 10-day, Discovery RECRUIT program: Ready for – Excellence by showing our kids how to be – Confident in being a – Remarkably – Upstanding and – Impressive – Team of sixth-graders. This will include how to organize ourselves, our lockers, our school materials, and our thoughts each morning to prepare for seven daily classes: four core and three electives. We will meet three times between February and August: to welcome our new Discoverers, to discuss transportation options and create bicycle co-ops, carpooling and bus transit options, and over the summer when we host a pool party and “survivor” game night.
DSST: Conservatory Green—We believe that a small, values-based community will help students succeed at each stage of their educational experience. DSST offers a highly supportive culture for all students, regardless of background. From their first day, students will have an advisor who they will meet with daily, and go to for academic and personal support. This advisory model will also allow students to meet and get to know their peers as friends and community members. Teachers and advisors will work closely with parents to ensure a positive transition to middle school.
DSST: Stapleton—Our advisory structure pairs a teacher with a small group of students. Advisories allow students to develop lasting friendships with members of the community and work closely with a staff member who becomes an advocate for their success. The advisor is in constant communication with parents. Above all, DSST is committed to developing well-rounded students in a positive (and fun!) environment.
McAuliffe IB—All sixth-graders attend a three-day orientation where they learn organization, time management, and study skills. Students receive support in managing the social and emotional challenges they sometimes experience when transitioning to middle school.
William Roberts offers a unique team-building experience at the beginning of 6th,7th and 8th grade that develops strong relationships between students and staff. Our small class size supports our philosophy that social and emotional growth is essential in supporting the whole child.
How do (will) you deal with issues that go beyond what the teacher can handle in the classroom (homework, discipline, needs for extra personal support)?
Denver Discovery School—We will have a part-time counselor on staff to provide extra support socio-emotionally for our students. Our after-school “PREP” program is both punitive in holding students accountable to our dress code and academic excellence as well as supportive in that students will stay after school to be provided extra academic and organizational support. We will have a Special Educator, a Gifted and Talented itinerant teacher as well as a full-time Interventionist on staff to support our learners. No more than 45 minutes of homework will be given per evening and never to be a combination of more than one subject area at a time.
DSST: Conservatory Green—We will have high expectations for our students that will be met with a high level of support from teachers and the community at large. Each day, students will meet with their advisory, a teacher and a small group of students, which is designed to keep students on track with their daily assignments and encourage social connections. Our dean will be working with students regularly to ensure that they have the necessary skills to be successful in the classroom. Our teachers are committed to supporting students before and after school with tutoring or extra support, to assist students in their personal development.
DSST: Stapleton has high expectations for all students, and those expectations are coupled with high support from the entire community. This support comes from the student’s advisory group, which is the front line for any academic or behavioral challenges a student might face. Teachers and administrators offer before- and after-school tutoring daily for all students, and genuinely spend time to get to know each student to ensure they have success at DSST.
McAuliffe IB—We have very high expectations and place a great deal of emphasis on systems and accountability for both students and staff. Positive relationships and a strong school culture allow us to deal with issues proactively when they arise.
William Roberts—We provide numerous interventions and enrichment programs to support students’ needs. Homework clubs, leadership opportunities, and specialized instruction are unique to our upper grades.
What do (will) you do to accommodate students who move at a pace faster or slower than the group?
Denver Discovery School—In our professional development we will discuss (continued from page 15) strategies to ensure that we are tiering our lessons to address the varying levels of learners. Teachers are highly qualified in their contents and can focus solely on their one subject each day, allowing them to instruct students who need extra support or modified lessons or perhaps are ready for more accelerated lessons. Project-based learning allows students to work at their own cognitive capacity as they create, explore, debate, research and finally present their findings. Students can work in groups or individually during these opportunities.
DSST: Conservatory Green—We work hard to ensure that every student is challenged and constantly growing to reach their full potential. Our teachers differentiate their lessons every day to meet the individual needs and abilities of students, and push them to do their best. DSST: Conservatory Green will offer an advanced math track. While all middle school students will be on track to take calculus in high school, students in the advanced track will have an opportunity to take a second year of college-level math before graduating. DSST schools welcome students of all ability levels.
DSST: Stapleton—Every school in the DSST network has a growth mindset, meaning we work hard to ensure that every student is challenged and constantly growing to reach their full potential. At DSST: Stapleton Middle School, teachers differentiate their lessons daily to meet the individual needs and abilities of every student and push them to do their best. The technology DSST uses in the classroom allows teachers to provide extra support to students who need it, and additional challenges to students who excel.
McAuliffe IB—In mathematics, students are grouped based on their level of mastery. In all other courses, teachers differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of all learners. Students below grade level in literacy or math receive additional support through intervention courses.
William Roberts—Teachers differentiate their instructions so that all children can be challenged or supported. If a child is identified as GT, learning plans give teachers guidance to support those needs. Interventionists are available in math, reading and writing to support middle school students.
What is (will be) special about your school that makes it a place where kids learn, grow and thrive?
Denver Discovery School—We celebrate the individual. From 8am during our student-led morning meeting that is musical, celebratory and positive to our small classrooms—no more than 27 students per class—and our service learning education opportunities that speak to the heart in each and every one of us, we value and celebrate the inner child and developing leader each and every day.
DSST: Conservatory Green will have an authentic literacy experience. Our school will first build a culture of reading, where students are encouraged to enjoy books, and are given time each day to focus on literacy. In conjunction, students will also be taught literacy skills, which include rigorous text-dependent analysis and questioning. As a STEM school, we will focus on computer programming. Currently, in the United States only 10 percent of our schools focus on computer science, leaving up to 1 million jobs vacant each year. We will give students access to the skills they need to develop as computer programmers.
DSST: Stapleton—As a science, technology, engineering and math school (STEM), DSST: Stapleton Middle School has a focus on creative engineering and a unique partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder and Lockheed Martin. While DSST is a successful STEM school, we are also dedicated to providing a strong liberal arts education. Writing, reading, and social studies are subjects that students attend every day, along with math and science.
McAuliffe IB—The “extras” are what set McAuliffe apart. In addition to field trips, outdoor education, community service and enrichments, McAuliffe has the most robust offering of course electives and athletics of any middle school in DPS.
William Roberts—Our small environment allows teachers to know kids and families on an individual level. We focus on cognitive thinking strategies to promote deeper level thinking. Students are encouraged and expected to be able to explain their thinking. Our educators share a common belief in teaching the whole child; supporting children academically, socially, and emotionally.
Are there areas in which you expect change in the future?
Denver Discovery School—We are waiving two DPS curricular programs: math and science. In their place, we will adopt Singapore Math and Foss Science. Foss Science offers our students an inquiry-based approach to scientific learning that stimulates inquiry and curiosity. The FOSS proposition is that students learn science best by doing science. By the second year of Denver Discovery School, we expect to add a “Robotics” program. Otherwise, our startup funds will allow for a robust elective program offering music, art, PE and Spanish.
DSST: Conservatory Green—The biggest change we will see going forward will be the addition of a seventh grade in 2015, eighth grade in 2016, and a high school after that. While we are always adapting and changing practices based on what is best for our students, there will not be any large systematic or programmatic changes that we can foresee in the future.
DSST: Stapleton—DSST Public Schools is always adapting and changing practices based on best practices, and what will help students grow in the classroom. At this time, we do not foresee any large systematic or programmatic changes.
McAuliffe IB—The move to the Smiley Campus in 2014 allows McAuliffe to continue to grow and meet student demand. Smiley’s 630-seat auditorium, two gyms, historic library and 19 acres of playing fields will better meet the needs of our diverse programming and allow us to expand our offerings.
William Roberts—We are working together with the Strategic School Design office to explore possible opportunities for changes in the near future to make better use of money, time and people.
What is your philosophy on teaching your curriculum? What is the balance of teacher-directed and student-directed learning, project-based learning, or other approaches?
Denver Discovery School—My philosophy of education is rigor, routine and relevance. Connections between what is real world and what is abstract must continuously be bridged for our kids in order for deep metacognition to solidify. Learning should be 70 percent student centered—once teachers directly instruct between 15–20 minutes per lesson, the rest is facilitation of the learning. Project-based learning allows our students to show what they know in a constructivist fashion.
DSST: Conservatory Green—At DSST, we do not use textbooks or workbooks to drive instruction. Instead, our teachers will use common core or school-based standards to design their curriculum. While we hold teachers accountable for teaching those standards, we also believe they need freedom in order to meet students where they are on their educational path and push them as necessary. We believe that learning should be student-centered, meaning that students should constantly work in ways that require exploration and inquiry with a teacher as their guide.
DSST: Stapleton—We allow our teachers to drive instruction and they work together closely to share best practices; always exploring new ways to bring lesson plans to life in the classroom. Our teachers use school-based standards as a guide for content and skills-based instruction, rather than prescriptive off-the-shelf curriculum. This approach allows DSST to differentiate lessons in order to challenge students at all levels.
McAuliffe IB—Students learn by doing. The majority of the learning at McAuliffe is student centered, but facilitated by the teacher. Teachers use interactive technology to supplement their curriculum and to individualize the scope and pace of student learning.
William Roberts—We use several curriculums and instructional approaches to support different learning styles for students. If you were to visit a M.S. classroom, you would observe environments and instruction that support teacher facilitated learning.
Tell us about yourself.
Denver Discovery School, Kristen Atwood—I am pleased to announce that this will be my 18th year working in Denver Public Schools. I have two young children, Willem and Ella, a husband who is one of the most creative and talented individuals I know, and a new foster dog, Earnest, who continuously brings true laughter to our children daily. I love hosting gatherings of family and friends and watching new connections formed.
DSST: Conservatory Green, John Clark—I graduated from the University of Notre Dame where I earned a BA in English and a MA in education. For two years, I worked for the Alliance for Catholic Education, which serves under-resourced parochial schools in Denver. I joined DSST: Stapleton Middle School in 2010 and taught eighth-grade English for two years. This year, I was one of three people selected to the first cohort of Associate School Directors at DSST. This role has been instrumental in providing leadership in instructional support, school culture and parent outreach. I have been married to my wife, Megan (who is currently a law school student), for three years. In my free time I enjoy reading, skiing, the outdoors, and watching Notre Dame football.
DSST: Stapleton, Stefan McVoy—I taught middle-school science for seven years; one year at Kent Denver, three years at KIPP, and three years at DSST. This will be my third year as director at DSST: Stapleton MS. I love to be outside and travel. Mountain biking, snowboarding and skiing are some of my interests outside of academics.
McAuliffe, Kurt Dennis—My wife, two daughters and I have lived in Stapleton for more than 10 years. She works at Swigert and the girls go to school there. We enjoy commuting on our bikes together when the weather allows. I speak Spanish and taught English as a second language for eight years before becoming a principal.
William Roberts, Patricia Lea—I have been an administrator in DPS for the past ten years. I taught in Douglas County and also was an assistant principal. I attended college on an athletic scholarship. Still today, health, fitness and living a healthy lifestyle is a priority for me. I love being outdoors, enjoying the Colorado outdoors although my heart has a strong connection to the ocean.
Denver Discovery School—I argued at every middle school meeting last year for additional rigorous, comprehensive liberal arts focused programming, and Mrs. Atwood has developed just that. Through project-based themes, inquiring-based science and student interest-based electives, she has done a brilliant job at pulling together a curriculum that focuses on making middle school education both relevant and engaging all while adhering to the core state standards. My son is very enticed by the small community, the neighborhood location and of course the possibility of having a mind craft programming elective. —Renee Allen
DSST: Conservatory Green—The vibe seems to be that people are thrilled to have a high-quality middle school within walking distance. There are some who are a bit concerned about the approach, but they won’t argue with the success of the model. My daughter is intrigued by the paycheck reward system and can’t wait to spend her “money” in the school store. —Chris Englert
DSST:Stapleton—The teachers and staff at DSST are positive, encouraging, enthusiastic, and have high expectations of the students’ academics and behavior. The students really respond to that and rise to the challenge. The six core values are at the center of what the school is teaching. DSST teaches how to excel at being a student, something required to learn how to learn. What DSST is teaching them will help them in higher education and all aspects of their lives. —Jean Johnson
McAuliffe IB—The “vibe” at McAuliffe International School (MIS) is energetic and engaged. The students work hard and play hard. For the work, students are motivated to grow and push their limits. For play, whether it’s sports, music, drama, community service, foreign language, and other enrichments, there are opportunities for the students to explore what appeals to them. —Karla Rehring
William Roberts—The vibe at the school is one of excitement, commitment, and endurance!!!! We are building a community that fosters the whole child. We believe that academics are important but the social emotional development is important as well. My kids love the teachers at Bill Roberts. They care and appreciate each student for who and what they are. —Ginny Creighton