These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

Announcing: The 2015 A+ Game Changers

Game Changer Award

Introducing: The A+ 2015 Game Changers

Each year we reflect on the incredible work that has been done by educators and education advocates around Colorado. The nominations from friends and colleagues for the 2015 A+ Game Changer Award remind us that the energy and passion for improving public education is alive and well in Colorado.

This year’s Game Changers have all had a significant impact on students in Aurora, Denver, and Colorado. Each lends a strong perspective to their field and has pushed to rethink the system so that more kids can thrive in their classrooms. We thank each of them for their total commitment to ensuring our public schools live up to their ideal.

Policy: Dan Jorgensen, Ph.D.
Vice President, Aurora Public Schools Board of Education

Dan Jorgensen, for his leadership on the Aurora School Board.

Dan models the very skills we hope our students build: critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. Dan can always be found asking the hard questions, engaging in thoughtful dialogue, lending support and seeking solutions to better serve Aurora’s students. As an entirely at-large school board, it would be easy for parts of the district to receive inadequate attention. Not so with Dan on the board. He ensures students’ interests are at the forefront of conversations, and pushes the board and district to embrace a culture of inquiry and transparency. He welcomes feedback and authentic community partnerships. We know that Aurora’s kids have a fighting chance with Dan in their corner providing thoughtful leadership for the school board.

Advocacy: Ricardo Martinez and Pam Martinez
Co-Executive Directors, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos

Ricardo Martinez and Pam Martinez for their tireless efforts to ensure that Denver’s most disadvantaged children have a shot at educational and economic success.

While education reform/improvement advocates come and go, Pam and Ricardo have been chest deep in the work to demand more from our public schools for nearly 25 years. Over the last couple of years, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos has partnered with others through the Ya Basta coalition to improve schools in Southwest Denver, led work with the district to ensure fewer kids enter the school-to-prison pipeline through their annual school discipline report card, and, most recently, published an excellent report on the lack of quality early childhood options for low-income students in parts of Denver. Ricardo and Pam are powerful advocates and we thank them for relentlessly shining a light on the systems and issues impacting our low-income children and students of color.

Practice: Jesse Rector
Relay Graduate School of Education

Jesse Rector from the Relay Graduate School of Education for helping build the capacity of Denver and Aurora’s school principals and instructional superintendents.

By providing ongoing, practical learning opportunities, Jesse and the team at Relay have effectively and positively changed the paradigm regarding school leadership and continual professional development for school leaders. In addition to leading much of the Relay expansion to Denver this year, Jesse worked with participants on planning teacher PD, improving practices around teacher observation and feedback, and establishing strong school cultures. This work is very new and we look forward to Jesse and Relay’s continued engagement in Denver, Aurora, and around the state to ensure more of Colorado’s instructional leaders receive the support they need to build the schools our students deserve.