Learning Community P

October Update

Welcome to APS & Learning Community P

Cynthia Andrews, Coordinator of Laredo Child Development Center

Cindy has been in education for 24 years. For 13 years she was in Aurora Public Schools. She then went to Douglas County School District for 8 years. Cindy has come back to APS and has been here for the past 3 years. Her education includes a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in language, literacy, and culture. She has an EdS in Administrative Leadership and policy studies with an emphasis in mathematics.

Cindy has taught all grades from PreK – 6, coached teachers in literacy and mathematics in PreK – 12, and has served as a specialist in curriculum and instruction at the district level. She is now the Coordinator of the Laredo Child Development Center.

Adam Gelman, Assistant Principal of East MS

Hi! My name is Adam Gelman, and I just recently became an Assistant Principal at East Middle School. I began my career at East 9 years ago and am honored for the opportunity to now be an Assistant Principal at the school where I started teaching. Prior to becoming AP, I worked at East as a music teacher, technology teacher, math teacher, and most recently the MYP/RTI coordinator.

I received my bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Colorado at Boulder (Go Buffs!), my master’s degree in educational leadership from The Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!), and my doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Denver (Go Pioneers!).

In my free time, I love watching movies, trying new restaurants, and spending time with my family and friends. I look forward to working collaboratively with Learning Community P, so that together we can provide rigorous instruction that meets the needs of our learners.

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Sangita Patel, Principal of Vaughn Elementary

I am honored and overjoyed to be the new Principal of Vaughn Elementary School. I am truly excited to join a school with a reputation of teachers and parents who collectively work together to make a difference in students’ lives.

A little about me: My parents are originally from India and lived in Uganda, Africa before making the ocean journey to the East Coast over four decades ago. The value of education was instilled in me from a very early age and learning always took a priority in our home. I moved out to Colorado from Virginia 16 years ago and am proud to call the Rocky Mountains my home. Family, heritage, and my roots are very important to me. We are blessed with having three generations living in our household! My husband’s mother and father look after our two boys (7 & 11), who bring us constant joy and wonderment. Every chance we get, we enjoy traveling and taking in the sites through our beautiful state or anywhere the wind may take us! I have been in education for 16 years as well. With 5 years as an Elementary Assistant Principal in the Cherry Creek School District, and more than 10 years of successful experience in hands-on teaching at the elementary and middle school level, I am excited to bring these experiences to Vaughn Elementary and ensure our students have all the best tools they need for developing academic resiliency and flourishing in a diverse world.

As a parent, I recognize the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships with my children’s school and teachers. Putting children first and having solid ties to the community are important to me. Through a shared vision that involves the voices of the community and school members alike, I feel we can develop strong 21st century readers, writers, thinkers, and problem-solvers. My role as the principal is to reinforce the importance of prepping all students for critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity because I believe our children have the ability to change the world!

Sheri Shea, TOSA of Laredo Child Development Center

Sheri Shea has maintained a positive relationship with schools and public schooling since before she was “dry behind the ears!”(I’m not sure what that actually means – my grandmother used to say it!) Convincing all of her neighbors to “play school” and of course assuming the role of “teacher” was standard fare for the neighborhood. A past, “straight-A student” and high school drop-out, she graduated from Metro State College in Denver in 1990 with a degree in Elementary Education and received her Master’s in Administration in 1997 the night before (literally induced minutes later!) her first child, Sam was born!! Lily followed in 2000, while Sheri was teaching middle school. (Not literally while teaching middle school-although middle school students would have enjoyed the drama of it all!) She has taught every grade kindergarten through seventh grade, she has spent time as a district administrator, and most recently the Assistant Principal of a “turnaround” elementary school in Sheridan School District in Denver, Colorado. After following twelve leadership teams in thirteen years, the elementary school in which she served experienced double-digit growth on TCAP all of the years of her internment and the school moved from “turnaround” to “improvement” as determined by the Colorado Department of Education and the School Performance Framework. Sheri possesses an unusual, (some would say obsessive) bent for academic assessments and school data. In addition, she enjoys espousing the virtues of educational equity and quality and effective instruction to nearly anyone who will engage. She considers it a privilege to serve in public schools and is particularly elated to serve in Aurora Public Schools.

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P-20 Learning Community P Updates

Education Technology

Many schools in Community P have been diving into Google Apps for Education. With the increase of educational devices being used in the classroom setting, Google has been a big asset to bring easy educational tools into the hands of our teachers and students. The Ed Tech team has been working on sharing this wealth of knowledge to many schools. Pictured below are a few 4th Grade students at Altura using chromebooks at a station to log into GoogleClassroom to work on their assignments.

Pictured below are a few 4th Grade students at Altura using chromebooks at a station to log into GoogleClassroom to work on their assignments.

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Student Engagement Advocate

Developing and Improving Our Attendance Systems Staff from our community "P" schools continue to optimize their school attendance systems. As Dean and Student Engagement Advocate meetings continue to take place throughout the month, consistent and most efficient attendance systems are in sight. Our "P" community schools are determining specific processes and interventions to incorporate and adapt in order to have the best plans at their schools and across our community. Our goal of reaching more students while implementing and intervening earlier and more proactively can make a great impact on students. Currently, some schools have started to implement their improved attendance systems and have been able to see progress. We have not completed the process but with a more support and guidance, we are well on our way to accomplish our goal and provide our students the assistance they need!

MTSS Partner

On Friday October 17th, a group of dedicated Clyde Miller middle school teachers took 62 students to the Hinkley High school football game. Hinkley announced and welcomed them to the game over the PA system. Students got to experience what a Friday night high school football game was like.

Early Childhood Education Department

Early Childhood Education facilitators have spent the first quarter observing students in the classroom and have documented observations in Teaching Strategies GOLD. As we move forward we are using our data to plan appropriate next steps for preschool students in all areas of development which encompasses thirty-eight Objectives for Development and Learning. Facilitators will be conducting parent teacher conferences this month and sharing this information with parents. In addition to this, ECE received a Preschool to Kindergarten Transitions Grant which is funding to support sustainable transition process from preschool to kindergarten.

English Language Acquisition

Among Hinkley High School’s diverse community of learners, nearly 1,400 students are privileged to call themselves bilingual (or multilingual!) learners. Around half of these students currently receive ELA services, and of those students, many are part of a hybrid English Language Development and literacy development class. An ongoing concern that we hear from the teachers of these classes is the balance of Language development and English standards during this block. Harmony Looper and Laura Cooper have been collaborating with classroom teacher Ashlee Marshall at Hinkley High School to better understand how to meet the language needs of our English Language Learners while also addressing the English content standards. Together, they spent time co-planning a week of lessons and then had the opportunity to co-teach each lesson. Harmony and Laura look forward to replicating this collaborative process with other teachers at Hinkley.

In other ELA news, Susan Naqica and Dahlia Mohammad have been planning and facilitating a district writing class titled, Teaching Writing with ELLs in Mind. Many teachers from community P have had the opportunity to attend this rigorous professional learning. Teaching the writing process involves many components. This class supports teachers in deepening their understandings around the elements of the writing genres. Teachers also have the opportunity to analyze mentor and exemplar texts in order to identify the language students need to be successful writers. Within the class, teachers develop lessons and tools that support their English Language Learners within the writing process. Most importantly, teachers differentiate instruction for all students to ensure equitable practices.


What an exciting time of year for Art, Music and PE. The Kaiser POP grant is off and running. We have 10 schools participating in it now and would like to continue to grow this opportunity. This grant is to increase physical activity in your students and/or community. Schools can receive up to $1000 to purchase equipment for the program and the facilitator can be paid for their time. Please email Erica Campbell if you would like more information.

DAVA was awarded one of 12 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards for excellence in art programs that open new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement! DAVA provides Art opportunities for all Aurora students in their free afterschool art programs.

The APS choral Festival was a great opportunity for students to showcase their talents. A huge thank you goes out to all the great choral directors for their hard work and dedication to these groups. The performances were a reflection of these efforts.

Exceptional Student Services

Community P Uses People-First Language

When talking about our students with disabilities, it is important that we recognize them as people first. For this reason, the Exceptional Student Services Department has committed to using People -First Language in conversations regarding the kids we support. Our intent is to recognize the individual before describing any characteristics of his or her disability. Using People -First Language implies and promotes asset-based thinking about a student and fosters conversations about their interests and abilities in addition to their needs. You will notice your consultant using the phrase, “Students with disabilities (SWDs)” in place of “SPED Students”. Another example of People -First Language is when a student is described as “a student with an intellectual disability (ID)” as opposed to an “ID kid.” Doing away with deficit-based language leads to a shift in thinking; honor the kids you work with by putting them before their disabilities.


Health Sciences Seminar

Hinkley and Aurora Central High School students participated in the first Health Sciences Seminar on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, titled Health Equity and the Social Determinants of Health. The guest speaker was Cerise Hunt, MSW. Ms. Hunt is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice.

In the Seminar, the students were given an overview of the disparate health status and health outcomes for people throughout Colorado, and the significance of social, structural and environmental determinants of health and the role they play in shaping the course of health.

The Health Sciences Seminar will initially be held bi-monthly for Hinkley and Aurora Central Aurora LIGHTS students around health and allied health-related issues and health and allied health careers, with the goal of high school students across the district participating in the Seminar.

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Secondary Literacy

October has been a busy month for the secondary schools in Community P in regards to literacy. Currently, Clyde Miller teachers are implementing the new Lucy Calkins Units of Study in their writing blocks, and Clyde was able to send ten teachers to a workshop in Denver on October 10th when Lucy Calkins herself came to Denver. These teachers were energized by the clarity and relevance of the information that was presented, and they are taking what they’ve learned back to their building and sharing with their colleagues their take-aways. This model of building capacity reinforces Clyde Miller’s cohesive professional atmosphere.

The new Lucy Calkins Units of Study are being piloted by a number of middle schools and K-8’s in the district, and it is exciting to announce that the 8th grade team at East Middle School will be the next school piloting this curriculum beginning in January. These teachers have been participating in professional development and training so that they can best serve their students’ needs in quarter 3. It is commendable to see the 8th grade team come together and dedicate their time learning a new curriculum.

In addition to the work with the 8th grade team at East, Ellen Lewis, 8th grade teacher, has stepped up as a facilitator for district late starts this semester. Her session on text-dependent questions, reading strategies, and the Depth of Knowledge model has been well received by middle school teachers around the district. Barry McDermott from Hinkley has also served as a facilitator for district late starts at the high school level. Barry and Ellen’s willingness to serve as a leader among her peers is essential to the success of the district late starts.

Another leader among her peers, Tara Harris from Hinkley High School, has been selected to serve in a Secondary Literacy Leadership Cohort. This is a group made up of high school teachers recommended by their Teaching Partners, Principals, or Instructional Coordinators who have exhibited leadership qualities in their departments. Tara is one among 6 teachers who are participating in professional development and learning practicum to hone their leadership skills through the lens of literacy.


Kindergartners at Laredo are writing about what they learn! Science notebooks are expected at Laredo, and even our youngest learners are motivated to use what they know about letters and sounds when they are sharing the excitement of their science learning. This picture is from Mrs. Montano’s class, and the students are learning about Wood and Paper.

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“How did you solve the problem?”

“I wonder if that strategy will work for division.”

“Let’s start by thinking about what we already know in this problem.”

These are the type of questions and phrases you could expect to hear from students who are engaging in the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP). The Standards for Mathematical Practice outline the thinking processes which underlie the development of deep content understandings. These standards are as much a part of the Colorado Academic standards as the Math Content Standards are. Teachers and principals have been learning about the Standards for Mathematical Practice during Secondary & K-8 Late Start sessions and at the Elementary Planning Release (? EPR) day. The Standards for Mathematical Practice are:

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

4. Model with mathematics.

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.

6. Attend to precision.

7. Look for and make use of structure.

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

At the professional learning sessions teachers have been observing proficient instruction around the Standards for Mathematical Practice and noting the teacher actions that helped students to engage in those standards. Teachers then moved into a learning cycle of strategically planning for the SMP during a math lesson and then looking at data with colleagues in order to reflect on the effectiveness of the instructional practice in regards to student learning.

The professional learning sessions will continue with teachers gaining understanding of each of the Standards for Mathematical Practice and the instructional strategies they can use to support students to engage in each one.


Here are some highlights of my work in community P.

  • All Advanced Learning Plans have been reviewed in the elem. schools I support: Altura, Elkhart, Sable, Sixth Ave. and Vaughn.
  • AGATE Leaders at Elkhart are helping to create teacher tools to support all schools with the identification of gifted students in diverse and underrepresented populations.
  • AGATE Leaders from Elkhart and Sixth Ave. attended the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented Conference. Both will be sharing their learning at an upcoming AGATE Leader meeting
  • AGATE Leaders at Sable have scheduled a day for AGATE cluster teachers to plan extensions and learning for their gifted students
  • AGATE Leaders at Sable are the first (in the entire district) to receive training and practice in writing ALPs in Enrich .
  • The AGATE Leader at Sixth Ave. is planning to facilitate a pd on how to support gifted learner's needs with technology.
  • Teachers and AGATE Leaders at Altura have nominated 30 students to go through the ID process.
  • An AGATE Team has been established at Vaughn - roles and responsibilities, next steps, etc. have been defined. One AGATE Team member is writing a proposal to support students with before or after school enrichment opportunities.