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

What’s the Future of School Innovation in Colorado?


Join our conversation on the future of charters and innovative school designs in Colorado!

We’ll explore questions about the future of charter authorizing, expansion, and new models in Colorado and their impact on student achievement from a number of national and local experts.

The conversation will be facilitated by Matt Barnum, Senior Staff Writer at The 74. Register early and receive a free copy of The Founders when you attend.

This event is brought to you by A+ Colorado and the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Reception begins at 5:00pm with our panel discussion beginning at 5:30pm followed by time for questions and conversation.

Learn more about our panelists and facilitator:

Richard Whitmire: author of the new book, The Founders

Whitmire, a former president of the National Education Writers Association, is the author of: The Founders: Inside the effort to invent (and re-invent) America’s Best Charter Schools. Previous books include: On the Rocketship: How High Performing Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelope andThe Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation’s Worst School District. Whitmire also wrote Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Education System That’s Leaving Them Behind and co-authored The Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools. Whitmire is a former editorial writer at USA Today. He was recently a fellow at the Palo Alto-based Emerson Collective, and then at the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation.

Bill Kurtz: CEO, DSST Public Schools

DSST is a charter school management organization that is opening ten secondary schools on five campuses in Denver. Bill was the Founding Head of School of the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST), the flagship school of DSST Public Schools. The school has become an exemplar for high school reform and a leader in STEM education nationwide. The combination of the school’s highly significant year-to-year student learning growth, extraordinarily diverse student population, innovative school culture, and 100% college acceptance rate for its graduates has made DSST a change agent for local public schools and a destination for school reformers from all over the country. Bill was recognized as the 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year by the New Schools Venture Fund at their national summit in Washington D.C. Bill was named one of 25 champions of public education in Denver over the last 25 years in 2008 by the Public Education Business Coalition. He currently serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education MAT program. Prior to joining DSST, Bill served as Principal of Link Community School, an independent middle school located in Newark, New Jersey. Before his career in education, he worked as an investment banker at JP Chase in New York City. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Princeton University with a B.A. and earned an M.A. from Columbia University’s Teachers College in educational administration and leadership.

Brenna Copeland: Founder and CEO, EdPlex

Brenna is the Founder & CEO EdPlex, a mission-oriented consulting company that supports schools, districts and charter authorizers with the complex challenges of rapidly accelerating student achievement. To date, EdPlex has focused on school turnaround from the perspective of both policy-makers and operators with projects to publish best practices for school restart, establish statewide intervention supports for districts, and support a specific schools with turnaround efforts. Previously, Brenna was the Executive Director of Portfolio Management at Denver Public Schools providing oversight to 80+ charter and innovation schools. Prior to Denver, Brenna worked in Washington DC and as the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder at Center City Public Charter School and the CFO for KIPP DC. Brenna completed Relay Graduate School’s Principal Supervisor fellowship, an MBA from Duke University and a BA from Rice University.

Alex Hernandez: Partner, Charter School Growth Fund

Alex Hernandez is a Partner at the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF), a nonprofit that supports the growth of the nation’s best public charter schools. He leads CSGF’s Impact Team which helps charter networks develop new innovations, build capacity, and share best practices. Alex also built and led CSGF’s Next-Generation Schools practice to help charter school networks launch new models. Alex is a former Area Superintendent at Aspire Public Schools where he managed schools in the California Central Valley region. He taught high school math in South Los Angeles and later served as a Broad Fellow at Portland Public Schools. Before that, Alex worked for several years with JP Morgan and Disney’s venture capital arm, Steamboat Ventures. He is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College, has an MBA and Masters of Education from Stanford University, and is a Pahara-Aspen fellow for leaders dedicated to transforming public education. He is a board member of DSST Public Schools, Ednovate, Rocketship Education and 4pt0 Schools. Alex lives near Boulder, Colorado with his wife Michelle and twin sons.

Facilitated by:

Matt Barnum: Senior Staff Writer, The 74
Matt Barnum is a senior staff writer at The 74, where he has written extensively about school choice issues. His other areas of interest include education research, segregation, teacher quality, and school funding. Prior to joining The 74, Matt was the policy director at Educators for Excellence – New York and before that a middle school English teacher in Colorado Springs.