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5th Dual Language Dual Language, Stein Elementary
Laurin Haber-Cruz has been a dynamic contributing member of the Stein Elementary School community for the past fifteen years. Stein has a population that is 85% minority, 65% English Language Learners and 93% free and reduced lunch. With a majority of Spanish-speaking families, Laurin’s bilingual skills have helped translate thousands of communications between Spanish and English speakers.
Laurin has been a member of Stein’s PTO for over 10 years. She successfully chairs the Fund-raising Committee and is currently our Membership Committee chair.
In 2008, Laurin started the Garden Club, which gives students a healthy and positive activity from spring planting through harvesting in October. Each season, the multi-age group of students grow produce for their families, some even planting gardens of their own at home! Stein’s Dramatic Arts Club also benefits from Laurin’s and her partner, Cathy King attention, as they lead enthusiastic students through amazing theatrical productions. Laurin frequently encourages her students to express their dramatic creativity in other classroom activities.
I had the pleasure of collaborating with Laurin, as she was a Mentor Teacher for the Strategic Compensation Project during the 2012-2013 school year. In our efforts to help improve the effectiveness of all teachers at Stein, Laurin’s knowledge, skill and passion for the art and science of teaching made her a valuable member of our Instructional Leadership Team. The following year, she took on the challenge of teaching the English component of our Dual Language Two-Way program. In the midst of immersing herself in a new model of teaching, Laurin managed to achieve some outstanding results with her students.
As education has shifted to data-driven accountability, schools need teachers who can demonstrate academic growth in their students. This is another reason why Stein is so lucky to have Laurin on our staff. The following scores attest to her capabilities. 2013-2014 TCAP Reading, 5th Grade: Of 22 students, 13 demonstrated High Growth; the class’ Median Growth Percentile was 70. 2013-2014 TCAP Writing, 5th Grade: Of 23 students, 22 demonstrated High Growth; the class’ Median Growth Percentile was 94!!!!
Laurin’s commitment to children is absolutely amazing. She is professional, reflective and constantly looking for opportunities to improve herself and others. I feel so fortunate to have worked with her for the last two years and I look forward to a great 2014-2015 school year with her. It is with great pleasure that I nominate her for the Jeffco School’s Foundation Hero Award.
Andrew M. Blackman, Assistant Principal, Stein Elementary
Scott Walker, 8th Grade Math, Wheat Ridge 5-8
Scott Walker is one of those dedicated teachers that schools are fortunate to have as a member of their staff. Scott teaches 8th grade Math including Navigator, a math intervention class, and an advanced Algebra class.
He has a deep and thorough knowledge of mathematics instruction and how to scaffold learning for his students whether it’s a remediation, on grade level or advanced math course. Scott connects well with his students and he cares deeply about their academic success. He is focused on using both formative and summative data to differentiate for his students. His classroom is active and engaging and he is able to motivate students to do well. Scott’s students consistently achieve at an incredibly high level. Scott is a leader on the math team and works to support all teachers.
Scott classroom has been used as a model class for both our 1:1 iPad implementation project and high quality math instruction. He has also been videotaped by Jeffco Schools for staff development. His class is a daily example of the successful integration of highly effective teaching strategies and the use of technology that supports student achievement.
Not only does Scott work endlessly on academics in the classroom, he tutors students before and after school and teaches in our Summer Prep Program. He also teaches in the Night School at Arvada High School. In addition, Scott coaches our Middle School Sports Program for both football and soccer. He models and insists on sportsmanship, allows all students to play and has won championships in both sports over the years. Many students will tell you that Mr. Walker was the hardest teacher they ever had and yet they also tell you that they learned so much about math, and about life, from him. He posts a daily quote, tells stories about the world around them and his passions in order to keep interest high and impart the values of persistence and believing in yourself. Scott does a great job of working with a high needs student population and is able to develop effective relationships while still maintaining rigor and relevance. Students frequently come back to visit him.
In my 18 years as a principal I can tell that Scott is one of the very best, an amazing teacher that deserves to be recognized with a Hero Award.
Warren L. Blair, Principal, Wheat Ridge 5-8
Art, Wheat Ridge HS
Franky Scaglione is one of the most influential and inspiring teachers I have ever met. As an art teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, Franky not only helps students perform daily miracles, but he helps to create young people who will carry the arts with them forever.
As I watched a peer art critique, students assessed each other’s work with levels of criticism and sensitivity. Unlike places where criticism is difficult to give and to receive, the classroom climate was one of teamwork, where criticism and diversity built strength. Students critiqued with the intent to improve and a need to defend their statements through art techniques or concepts. Students walked out of the classroom, not only as better artists, but also as better and stronger people who have learned to stand behind and defend their beliefs.
Franky’s endless energy and enthusiasm for students and life in general expands beyond any classroom and is contagious to all he meets. Seven years ago, Franky provided students with a pair of Vans shoes and a concept to use them as an art project that would become a fashion show at the school. The first fashion show was a hit, but throughout the past seven years that enthusiasm has transformed the lives of countless students, as well as the Vans Shoe Company. The “Vans Custom Culture Contest” is now a worldwide competition that thousands of high schools compete in. Wheat Ridge’s most recent show included art, communication skills, multimedia presentations and internet marketing. The time and energy for this project could only be achieved by Franky Scaglione. Creativity, leadership, teamwork, perseverance, critical thinking, respect and flexibility are concepts best taught through real life experiences and Franky ensured that his students got a heavy dose of each.
Beyond the community of Wheat Ridge, Franky has also made a significant impact. He landed a Fulbright Scholarship and taught for a year in Hungary. Knowing that the arts were not valued in the small community he would be visiting, he did a local fundraiser to help support the community he would join. Upon his return, I had several communications with authorities from the foreign school showering compliments upon us, as if we had helped to make this man special. Unfortunately, I had to tell them that I would not lend him out for another year!
Franky can also be found supporting student in individual causes, activities or athletics, encouraging students to be more and to excel in their field. For the past five seasons, Franky has spent time volunteering as a baseball coach. Once again, his energy and enthusiasm were contagious to all involved.
It has been my pleasure to serve alongside, Franky for the past eight years. I have admired him as a teacher and am inspired by him as a human being. I am humbled by the depth and quality of relationships he creates with others (students and adults) and am awed by the impact he makes on us all.
Griff Wirth, Principal, Wheat Ridge High School
Daniil Arushanov, Alameda International High School
I have had the pleasure of knowing Daniil Arushanov for the past two years, both as his Spanish teacher and his advisement class teacher. He is a bright young man that boasts a 3.25 GPA despite overcoming many challenges during his young life.
Daniil has an ear for language and grasped concepts quickly. Already fluent in Russian -- his home language, Daniil was an exceptional student in my Spanish class. He willingly offered assistance to students who didn’t understand the material, which allowed me to work with my students who were struggling the most.
During his time in my advisement class, Daniil participated in several community service projects with his peers, such as helping to plan and participated in Alameda’s Trick-or-Treat Street. Our class donated candy, decorated the school and dressed as zombies to hand out candy. We also raised money to help purchase Thanksgiving baskets that were donated to feed families within our school.
In October of 2013, after complaining of leg pain for months, Daniil was diagnosed with a sarcoma cancer. His case was so severe that the doctors determined the best method of treating this aggressive form of cancer was to have a below the knee leg amputation and intense chemotherapy treatments. This was devastating news for such a young man with a bright future ahead of him.
After his leg amputation, Daniil underwent multiple chemotherapy treatments and yet still came to school in his wheelchair despite suffering the debilitating and exhausting effects of chemotherapy. There were some days where all that Daniil could do in my class was put his head down on his desk and rest.
What struck me most about Daniil was his perseverance and positive outlook throughout his cancer treatments. He could have chosen to stay at home and wait until his chemotherapy was finished. He might have even waited to receive his leg prosthesis before returning to school to avoid awkward questions from classmates. Yet, Daniil’s strength of character, his ability to persevere, and his willingness to do his best in adverse conditions certainly exemplified the qualities of the Hero Award. This would be an amazing opportunity for Daniil to pursue his dream of college. Thank you for considering this outstanding and deserving young man for the Hero Award.
Abby Wagner, Spanish teacher, Maureen Mallory, Counselor, Susie Van Scoyk, Principal
Carina Wilson, Jefferson High School
"Carina Wilson has been a positive role model throughout her four years at Jefferson High School. In addition to being a part of the Leadership class, she is a math tutor in her spare time. Carina is always willing to assist teachers and staff with anything. The most impressive thing about Carina is that she has managed to participate in a vast amount of extracurricular activities while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and helping with her younger siblings."
"I nominated Carina because she is the only student I've had in 20 years of teaching who claps when I give new assignments. I think she loves learning for the sake of learning. She's got a clear plan for her future and takes all the necessary steps to meet it. She is dedicated, motivated, and compassionate."
"In addition to her exceptional work in the classroom, she has outstanding leadership skills.
"For example, there was an occasion last year where she facilitated an AP review session with her fellow students. In addition to her superior academic skills, she has an outstanding work ethic. Despite her active involvement in volleyball, basketball, and student leadership and a long commute to school, she makes time every night to get her work done.”
"Carina has chosen the path of academic excellence and community service. Despite a childhood characterized by loss, homelessness, and the absence of her parents (at different times), Carina thrives. Carina was chosen by her Teachers as she is exceptional!"
The quotes above came from her teachers, and are representational of what every adult on campus says about Carina. She excels in academics, athletics, activities and active service. She is a solid leader in all, as well. She believes in being a positive role model and leading her peers to be the best they can be.
She also contributed countless hours as a volunteer in service to our community and school. Among the places she volunteered last year are: Trick-or-Treat Street @Jefferson High School, Habitat for Humanity, Open Door MTM Outreach childcare, VBS@The Rock Kitchen, Urban Youth Camp Counselor. She is a math tutor here at school.
“She’s my idea of the model student.”
“Carina is an amazing student leader who gives so much top her campus. As her Principal, I am proud of the contributions that she makes academically, socially and as a role model to all other students.”
Michael James, Principal, Pam Chandler, Counselor,
Cynthia Jones, AP Physics
Two Roads Charter
Eli Graham is an exemplary student who has overcome considerable odds.
He enrolled in our school at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year when his parents were suffering from considerable financial debt due to mounting medical bills. Returning from an annual school-wide APEX party, Eli discovered that his father had died of a massive heart attack.
A few days after this tragic event, Eli was to perform the final two shows as one of the leading roles in our school play, Our Town. Despite being overcome with grief, he courageously finished the play strong. The school dedicated the final two performances to the memory of Eli’s father.
Not only is Eli an incredible and hardworking student, he is also a positive role model and
strong leader. He is kind to everyone he meets and makes an effort to bring a smile and provide a big hug to those around him. He is first in line to help when needed, and has frequently volunteered his time at school to assist teachers or staff members with any task asked of him.
Eli Graham is the kindest, sweetest kid and has had to overcome a tumultuous year. However, he has not let life’s challenges slow him down. He is a strong student with exceptional character and leadership abilities. He is loved by all and kind to everyone. We are truly blessed to have a student of Eli’s caliber at Two Roads Charter School.
Wendy Noel, Principal of Two Roads Charter School
Wheat Ridge High School
I have been Helen Castillo’s counselor for the past four years and have been continually amazed at her strength determination and perseverance. Helen has had more significant experiences in her life as an eighteen year-old than most people ever have.
Helen’s resiliency is one of the most amazing things about her. She came to the United States from El Salvador when she was seven years old. She met her mother and was reunited with her sister. They lived with relatives and her mom did the best that she could to get them by. Helen began elementary school not knowing English. She worked diligently to learn to read, write and speak English, and was able to learn quickly. Things began to get better for her family, until one event turned her world upside down. She woke one morning to a loud pounding on her front door and found Immigration and Naturalization Services there to take her mom. Her aunt came to stay with them while they tried to figure out what was happening and when her mom would be able to return. They were told that she was going to be able to come home within a few days, but found out later that her mom would be going to jail. Helen says this was one of the hardest times in her life. The person she had always looked up to and depended upon, who had always been her rock, looked small and broken. When Helen started 8th grade, her mother was released and she began the long process of filing for citizenship for the whole family, which is still ongoing almost five years later.
Despite the turmoil she was experiencing at home, Helen began high school with good grades in honors level classes,. She was a strong student and began to get involved in school which quickly turned into taking on several leadership roles. She participated in Las Amigas, a club designed to promote leadership among young Latina girls. She was also selected, as a sophomore, to work in the front office of the high school, which meant that she was the first person that parents or other visitors saw when they came to school. She answered phones and helped direct people who needed to see administrators or teachers. This is a position that is typically reserved for juniors and seniors, but Helen’s maturity was very apparent early on. As a senior she is currently taking peer counseling class. This will allow her to mentor younger students and meet with students who are struggling with all types of issues from poor grades to suicidal thoughts. She is a rare student who leads quietly by example, rather than with her words.
As soon as she was old enough, Helen found a job as a hostess and was soon a server at a local restaurant. She has been responsible for paying for all of her own expenses, from clothing to books and school supplies. She works several hours each week to support herself and her family. When Helen was a junior, she went through a battle with depression. During the second half of second semester she started to struggle academically. The restaurant where she was working closed, so she was trying to find a new job, and the external factors in her life caught up to her. She was having a hard time motivating herself to come to school and ended up failing some classes.
When I saw her again this fall she had already managed to turn herself around and get back on the path she had created for herself toward achieving her goals. During the first week of school she had already signed up to complete her online recovery class for a course she had failed, and has already started filling out college applications. She is someone who learns from her mistakes and knows what she wants to make of her life. I think that if there has ever been a student who will overcome obstacles and will achieve what she sets out to do, it is Helen. She is extremely courageous in dealing head on with what life throws at her, and is truly the definition of resiliency. She is a wonderful young woman with a maturity far beyond her years. It is with great honor that I nominate Helen for the Hero Awards, because that to what she is to me.
Jillian Benson, Counselor
Griff Wirth, Principal
Student Hero photographs by Jackie Green