It is a devastating reality that the achievement gap continues to grow in Colorado.
Over the past decade, policy-makers, union leaders, and educators have created the conditions where major improvements can start to take hold.
In the shadow of Colorado’s majestic mountains and rugged frontiers is a long history of racial segregation and economic inequity. While our state ranks second in the nation for number of degree holders per capita, it ranks 46th for college-bound high school graduates. Colorado’s affluent students are three times more proficient than those growing up in low-income communities.
In the face of these inequities, over the past five years Colorado’s education movement has made tremendous progress. Rather than viewing educational inequity as an intractable problem, there is growing optimism that promises new opportunities for students. In 2007, a small group of motivated leaders across Colorado took bold steps to help create broad, systemic change in education. They ushered in dozens of advocacy organizations to form a dynamic ecosystem working to reshape the policy context in which schools and school systems operate. Reforms around school leader autonomy, incentives-based compensation, and teacher tenure served as a model for 30 states across the country. Denver ranks fourth out of 25 cities for reform friendly environment. In just five years, Denver grew the number of schools consistently putting kids from low-income communities on a path to college from 0 to 12.
As a result of this incredible momentum, by 2010, Colorado was poised to become an inspiring example of system-level change in the nation. Reformers at every level of the system recognized that dramatically expanding the pipeline of leaders was critical to accelerating the pace of change across the state of Colorado.
By infusing Colorado with transformational leaders, Teach For America-Colorado is a catalyst for a system-wide education reform movement. Our role at Teach For America-Colorado is to create transformational classrooms and schools for all kids. Our corps members and alumni will facilitate enduring personal and cultural growth, and rigorous academic achievement for our students.
In 2012 we serve both Denver and Colorado Springs metro areas with 340 corps members and nearly 800 alumni (27 principals/systems leaders) reaching 21,000 students in seven districts and 100 schools. They are supported by 36 staff members and 15 board members.
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The region launched with 55 corps members in just one school district and only 14 donors. Under Sean's leadership, the Colorado corps has grown to more than 341 corps members in seven districts and 100 schools.
Sean began his Teach For America career as a member of the 2001 New Mexico charter corps, where he taught third and fifth grades in Smith Lake, NM. He went on to teach sixth grade social studies while serving as the school's basketball coach and newsletter editor, sitting on the superintendent's advisory committee, and participating as a community organizer. In 2004, Sean took on the role of executive director of Teach For America - New Mexico, where he set aggressive goals for student achievement.
An active member of the Colorado education reform community, Sean serves on several committees and boards of directors. He is married with a daughter and another baby on the way.