Parents’ Council kicked off the new year with a standing ovation for Superintendent Harry Bull, who announced Jan. 8 that he will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Dr. Bull spoke at the Parents’ Council meeting on Jan. 9, showing deep emotion as he said that serving as the superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools is the pinnacle of his career and explained the reasons for his decision: namely to spend more time with his wife and four children and to take better care of his health.
But Dr. Bull also said he is excited about the work to be done before he leaves, which includes progress on the district’s innovation initiatives. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried explained that the district is “shifting its culture” from a sole focus on college preparedness to a dual focus on college and career preparedness.
“We’re doing that because that’s where the magic is. It’s about what we do in the classroom every single day for every single student and how we do that differently to prepare kids for their different futures,” Siegfried said.
He described Cherry Creek 2021, the process the district went through during the past two years which started with the state’s new graduation requirements and included collecting information from students, parents, business leaders, community members and other stakeholders about what knowledge, skills and qualities children need to acquire or develop before they graduate from high school.
“They gave us great information about what kids really need to be successful; when they enter the workforce, this is what we need them to be able to do,” Siegfried explained.
The result of the Cherry Creek 2021 process was a number of innovation initiatives that are already changing how students learn in Cherry Creek Schools.
Sarah Grobbel, executive director of Career and Innovation, continued the presentation, which you can view here, by detailing the district’s innovation work. It began with the district’s Innovation Leadership Team and the development of a definition of innovation: “To teach students to think creatively about a problem, to experiment with possibilities and create solutions that contribute to society.”
Grobbel explained that the district’s innovation work is focused on four primary areas: Curriculum and Instruction; Professional Development; Physical Space; and Furniture and Equipment. The bond issue that voters approved in 2016 will provide funds for “innovation spaces” to be created at every elementary and middle school. That work will take place in three phases, with construction beginning at the first 15 schools this summer and continuing through 2019.
“We’re not just changing furniture,” Grobbel said. “We’re actually taking down walls, we’re making things open and transparent and giving kids a real opportunity to work and learn in innovative ways.”
In addition, a new stand-alone, state-of-the-art facility focused on college and career preparedness is being planned for a site near the Denver Broncos headquarters in Arapahoe County. The as-yet-unnamed career and innovation academy will give 11th- and 12th-grade students from across the district the opportunity to explore different career paths, earn industry certifications and prepare for success in their future, regardless of whether that future includes vocational training, higher education, military service or direct entry into the workforce.
Principal Mark Morgan gave the audience a brief overview of the planned facility, but will provide a more in-depth presentation at next month’s Parents’ Council meeting, which will be held at 9 a.m. on Wed., Feb. 14, at the Student Achievement Resource Center (SARC), located at 14188 E. Briarwood Ave. in Centennial.
For more information about Parents’ Council, visit http://www.ccparentscouncil.org/.