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Denver School Shows Power of Community

By Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President

August 23, 2010

We kicked off NEA’s 2010 Back to School Tour this morning at Lake International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle School in Denver, Colorado. Arriving at Lake around 6:15 am, I was greeted by Colorado Education Association President Beverly Ingle, Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) President Henry Roman and DCTA Executive Carolyn Crowder. Principal Elza Guajardo welcomed me to Lake, along with parent volunteer Helen Garcia and several Lake students.

I had the chance to meet and thank some great educators from Lake International as they arrived for school.

Interesting story about Helen Garcia – she doesn’t have students at Lake anymore. Her children and grandchildren attended Lake and she still volunteers at the school. She’s known around Lake as "Grandma." We certainly need more people like Helen who are involved and working to make great public schools in their communities.

Over juice and bagels, members of the Lake School community shared the inspiring Lake story. Local officials wanted to convert Lake into a charter school, but local NEA members joined parents and community leaders in going door-to-door in the community to recruit students and explain transformation plans for the school. Thanks to Association-led efforts, Lake was not converted to a charter school; it’s an excellent example of a transformation strategy.

To watch some video of my Denver visit, click play.

And now we’re off to visit the Math & Science Leadership Academy where I’m going to participate in a roundtable discussion on union-led transformative efforts.

To retun to my blog, click here.