Professional Educators

Denver Priority School Gets Presidential Treatment

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel conducted a nationwide back-to-school tour from August 23-27, meeting innovative educators and touring priority schools throughout the country. One of his first stops was at Denver’s Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA), a union-designed, teacher-led public school that is making a difference for urban students within the Denver Public School System.

MSLA opened in Fall 2009 as a K-2 school with 134 students, and is designed to expand to a K-5 by adding a grade each year. Sixty percent of its students are English-language learners, and up to 90 percent receive free or reduced-price lunches.

The school’s academic program integrates science, mathematics and technology in a standards-based model, and allows students to demonstrate their achievement through hands-on activities and service projects.

The school’s teachers use collaborative planning time to meet with their peers, analyze data and design instruction that meets student needs.

The Math and Science Leadership Academy is among the first teacher-run public schools in the nation, and was proposed by the Denver Classroom Teachers’ Association.

Van Roekel participated in a roundtable discussion at the school, where participants discussed how teachers, support professionals and administrators are breaking down communications barriers to focus on improving student outcomes. To read about his visit and the roundtable, check out Van Roekel’s travel log.

“Our intentions are all honorable,” one participant in the roundtable discussion said, “we really want to achieve the same things for our students.”

MSLA’s history and progress have been followed closely by NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign. To read previous coverage, click here.

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