Many teachers around the country express the desire to have more time with students and more professional development. Englewood is collaborating with Generation Schools to make that happen.
“We know we have a lot of kids who are behind and we know teachers don’t have enough time to help get those kids caught up. We also know there isn’t really enough time in the school year for teacher development,” said Brian Ewert, school superintendent. “We heard about the work Generation Schools is doing in those areas, looked into it and are developing a contract to have them work with our district.”
Generation Schools Network was founded in 2004 on the East Coast and came to Colorado about four years ago, establishing a key office in Denver. It is a nonprofit organization that states it is dedicated to the whole school and systematic innovation to try to solve challenges in urban education.
Major goals of the organization in general and with the team’s work in Englewood are to expand time with students by about 30 percent without increased cost and to develop ways to devote more time to professional development for teachers. On its website, Generation Schools says this can be accomplished by rethinking the way schools organize existing resources, including time and personnel scheduling.
The Englewood-Generation Schools contract is to have the consultants work with the Englewood district and schools over two years.
The program began in the spring, with Generation Schools representatives meeting with faculty members from Englewood Leadership Academy, Englewood High School and Englewood Middle School to help the consultants understand the mission and goals of the district.
Wendy Piersee, Denver Generation School director, said the organization is excited to be working with the Englewood district.
“Generation School had worked with large districts like New York City and Denver in the past,” she said. “This is the first time we are working with a smaller district like Englewood and we feel confident we can help expand learning times and develop critical programs that will benefit both students and teachers within existing contract schedules.”
She said this year will be spent designing programs for the upper grades as well as having discussions with elementary school parents and faculty members.
“Next year, we plan to implement the program we develop to expand instruction time and professional development for teachers. We also will be working to help develop programs for post-high school planning,” she said. “We are not sure just what the program will look like but that will be revealed as we move forward and decide on what works best for Englewood.”
Future project plans include formation and meetings with focus groups from throughout the district and community to ask members of the groups what they like and what they don’t like about the district.
The cost will be about $300,000. Karen Brofft, assistant superintendent, said the district has received grants of about $250,000 and, if other grant applications are approved, grant dollars will cover the entire cost of the project.
Ewert noted the decision was driven by teachers.
“We have a group of principals and teachers called Team Phoenix working on issues like looking for ways to streamline programs on the new campus,” Ewert said. “The discussion included how to have more times with students. Our research led us to begin discussions with Generation Schools.”