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CO Education leaders learn from SVVSD

SVVSD creates programs that are scalable to other districts.
Don Haddad, superintendent of SVVSD, shares SVVSD successes with educational leaders.

On Tuesday, education leaders from across the state gathered at the Innovation Center to learn how the St. Vrain Valley School District designs, tests and scales innovative and effective practices within the district and across the state and country. 

SVVSD received the Gov. Polis Response, Innovation and Student Equity (RISE) Fund grant in November. The funding was allocated to offer youth apprenticeships with a focus on technology and PreK-12 education.

The district received two RISE grants over the years, the most recent was announced in October. The district was awarded $383,489. The first award amounted to $2.79 million and was awarded in 2021. The 2021 award allowed the district to expand its summer literacy program for students in kindergarten through fifth grades at schools with lower performance in the Cheraw, Estes Park, Las Animas, Montezuma-Cortez and Sheridan school districts.

Members of the Colorado Education Initiative, which drives positive change in Colorado’s public education, have spent a number of days within SVVSD learning about the district’s process for innovating educational practices. CEI uses SVVSD as an example of how to change the educational foundation of schools across the state.

Educational leaders spent the day experiencing apprenticeships from SVVSD students in teaching and cybersecurity. These leaders were also able to learn what it takes to lead systems with rigorous academics alongside robust innovation during a panel discussion. 

“Our system has been built on a system we refer to as foundation innovation,” said Don Haddad, SVVSD superintendent. “We believe you have to have two parts to a great education system. The first is that strong academic foundation where all of the core and co-curricular programs are really rigorous … The second is to layer on top of that strong foundation is robust innovation. And the key is that if you have one without the other, our students will be limited.”

SVVSD has worked over the years to expand its offerings to students including apprenticeship programs, five Pathway to Technology programs, a Pathway to Teaching program, concurrent enrollment, AP courses, a telecommunications program that allows students from across the district and state to attend any SVVSD course virtually when it is not taught at their school and more.

Through these grants, SVVSD has created programs that boost the educational opportunities for students across the state. Haddad said it is important to invest in the education of all public school students since 90% of people attend these institutions. 

The administrative staff at SVVSD works to create programs that allow students to be competitive on a global level. These programs are also designed to be scalable to other districts.

“If you can’t scale it, it just becomes an event and an activity. We have to scale this type of work across the entire state, region and country and we can do that,” Haddad said. “Our commitment is not only to the St. Vrain Valley School District, it’s to all of our children, because who knows who you are going to interact with, who knows if they are going to be your doctor. So the territorialism of a school district is not really practical, so we want this type of work to be available for every child across every region. And it’s absolutely doable.”