I write to you today with some apprehension, because I have been wrestling with the words I intend to use in this public forum. I have procrastinated my semi-weekly blogging because lately our school has been in the midst of many losses, changes and (frankly) a fair amount of confusion. I will do my best to document happenings as diplomatically as possible, writing only what I know and have seen.
Approximately three weeks ago the staff was abruptly notified that our principal had been removed from her post “pending the conclusion of an investigation”. We were told nothing of the investigation and we were strongly encouraged to remain quiet and wait until the issue had been resolved. We were told that interviews regarding the investigation were being conducted, but that individuals could not request to be interviewed. In the absence of our principle, the Denver Summit School’s Network (DSSN), the team assigned to oversee the turnaround of 11 schools in this region, spent a lot of time at our school. The good news was that with so many people in the building, student behaviors were more regularly observed, documented and redirected. While the interim leadership may not have been as familiar with the school’s rituals and routines, they at least were able to observe the many challenges the educators at this school face daily. I think we all appreciated the additional support, as it seemed unrealistic to many of us to expect one administrator (the principal) to fix all the ills of a chronically underperforming school alone.
Over the past three weeks we have had three principles and countless assistants. And then finally on Friday, the Executive Director of DSSN came to the school and abruptly called an all-staff and student assembly in the auditorium. I was actually at a conference at the time, attending workshops on arts integration sponsored by our grantor, Colorado Creative Industries (CCI). What I have been told, however, was that the Executive Director announced to students, teachers and staff alike that our Principal, the woman who had co-developed the school’s vision and programming, had “resigned”. We all know that her resignation was her chosen alternative to termination, and still the rationale behind these grand decisions has not yet been conveyed to the staff.
So now we have a new, long-term interim Principal. She was once the Assistant Principal at Ford Elementary, the school we are here to replace. While I do not know her or her counter-part well, one thing I can say is that it is probably a good thing that she is at least familiar with our students. What is also clear is that every member of the DCIS staff still working here today, after all of the changes and boulders in the road, are truly here because they/we love these kids and we want the school we believe in so deeply to succeed. We believe in the vision. It has not been easy, and I am not sure when it or if it will ever get easy. All I know is that consistent support from the community is imperative.
Now about our Integrated Global Arts Program… 🙂 I am happy to announce that despite setbacks, there will be an exciting assembly tomorrow. The assembly is called a “Global Leadership Assembly” and we will be honoring those students who exemplify the school’s core values. The primary purpose for this assembly is to acknowledge and reward good behavior, as well as give the students the opportunity to demonstrate the learning they have been doing in their Projects classes with their teachers and their Community Artists. Further, Senator Mike Johnston will be here to honor our school with the first check from CCI, a state agency. Finally, a representative from Colorado State University’s (CSU) Global Campus will be here to congratulate those parents who have applied for our adult education program. The assembly will be action packed; full of urban design projects, a theatrical performance and songs full of movement and dance. So if you are in the area, please join us!!! 🙂
Now… before I close this post… I’d like to take a moment to e-troduce you all to a new addition to the DCISF team. While Maria Segura is not teaching the “integrated” part of our Integrated Global Arts program, she has been hired as a full-time educator to co-develop the “global” component with me. Maria will be continent hopping, so-to-speak, around the world with every DCIS kinder, 1st and 2nd grader by uncovering the folktales, dances and music of each region. I am excited to know Maria Segura, and even more blessed to have the opportunity to work with her. Welcome Maria! 🙂
Thanks to all for your support and interest in our new program as it carves its way through uncharted (and sometimes turbulent) waters.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela