By: Brock Gustafson, Steering Committee Chair
Greetings from the Steering Committee. We are very lucky to be different in many ways at D’Evelyn, but one of the most important differences is a partnership. In a world that is polarized, with almost daily news stories about school districts on one side and parents on the other, D’Evelyn stands as a vision of partnership. Parents, teachers, and administrators come together to make critical decisions on everything from curriculum, textbooks, and budgets to the strategic direction of our school. In that light, I’d like to especially thank four people for their partnership and service in this week’s issue of Jaguar Tracks. At the end of this school year, the three-year Steering Committee terms for two parents and one teacher member will end. We are grateful for the years of service and countless hours of investment that Jodi Haller, Jeff London, and Greg Holland have given to the school community. I’d also like to thank Dr. Rob Bishop for his leadership over the last year. He has been a good steward of the school and of the D’Evelyn Philosophy this school year and has been a great partner with the members of Steering.
As we look forward to next year, we will welcome four new members to the Steering Committee. Because there were an equal number of applicants to openings, there will be no election this April. In addition to our new Principal, Josh Shapiro who will serve as a member of steering, Keith Beams will join in a teacher capacity for a third term on Steering. Ginger Gee and Jason Nelson will serve as our new parent members. Our candidate bios and application question that we publish for each candidate can be accessed below. We are excited to welcome these new members (two of whom are D’Evelyn grads!) and we are grateful for their service!
We will be having a candidate forum following the Accountability meeting on April 11. This is the community’s opportunity to ask questions of and hear from our Steering candidates for the next term. If you have any questions or wish to communicate with the Steering Committee, you may email us at DevelynSCchair@gmail.com.
Keith Beams is from Colorado and graduated with one of the first HS classes at D’Evelyn in 1998. He attended CU Boulder and graduated with a History major, later adding an M.A. in History. He taught for four years at a private Pre-K through 8th Grade school in Boulder. He then came to teach at D’Evelyn in the fall of 2005. He has been at D’Evelyn ever since, teaching various classes in Social Studies and Spanish, mostly at the Junior High level. Currently he teaches 7th Grade World Geography and 8th Grade US History. He has also served six years on the D’Evelyn Steering Committee previously and currently co-sponsors Jr. High Student Council and sponsors the Strategic Gaming Club on Fridays. He is married to Jennifer and has four kids: ages 10, 6, 5, and 2. His oldest two kids attend Dennison and are excited to one day come to D’Evelyn. Keith is highly active in his local church, teaching both adults and preschoolers. He enjoys baking, gardening, skiing, reading, and board games.
Ginger Gee grew up in Scotia, New York, until moving to Lakewood, Colorado, just before turning 16. Although moving across the country was difficult, Ginger was lucky enough to meet her future husband, Dan, in math class during that tumultuous junior year. After graduating from Lakewood High School, she worked in early childhood education while earning her degree from Metro State University of Denver, finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in elementary education in December 2007. Less than a year later, Ginger had her daughter, Sarah, and devoted her time to raising her. Over the next few years, Ginger welcomed her son Elliot and spent time raising her kids and working as a Jeffco substitute teacher off and on. She has been a member of Dennison’s Accountability and PTA throughout her children’s time at Dennison, including being the Dennison Eagle Community PTA president from June 2019 - May 2022. Ginger has now shifted most of her focus to D’Evelyn, serving as a voting member of D’Evelyn’s Accountability as well as serving on both curricular and hiring committees. In January, Ginger started working as a part-time Para in the front office (you may have seen her smiling face greeting you in the security vestibule) and library. When not working or volunteering, Ginger spends her time with her family hiking, playing games, baking, and gardening. As a lifelong learner, she has enjoyed delving into D’Evelyn’s history, policies and founding documents. She intends to approach her time on the Steering Committee as an opportunity to give back to the community she values and enjoys.
Jason Nelson has lived in Colorado his whole life. He was born in Englewood and went to three different Jeffco elementary schools. For middle school, he enrolled at a new Jeffco Option school, the David S. D’Evelyn Jr. High School. Jason was part of the first graduating class to attend D’Evelyn for all six years and he met his future (and current) wife of 21 years while attending D’Evelyn. After graduation, Jason enrolled at Metropolitan State College of Denver and majored in Civil Engineering. During his time at college, he and his wife had two children, Maggie, a current Sophomore and Mikah a Freshman. Upon completion of his degree and obtaining an Engineer in Training license, he was hired on with a Civil Engineering firm. While he has changed jobs and companies a few times over the years, Jason currently works as a Civil Project Designer and is in the process of attaining a Professional Engineering license. He enjoys grilling on the Traeger, ATV rides in the mountains, and watching movies with his family.
What general goals do you want D’Evelyn to accomplish in the course of the next year? What would you like D‘Evelyn to look like in five years? What is your vision for D’Evelyn ten years from today?
Keith Beams: In the next year, I’d like to see a renewed emphasis upon the moral and behavioral values that make learning possible. I know that our current administration is working hard to turn the ship (Covid and current culture have made things challenging) and I’d like to see that continue. Without that emphasis on moral values, citizenship, and upstanding behavior, learning cannot be as successful as it has been in the past. I honestly believe this focus is of equal importance in shaping students for success in their own futures.
In five years, I’d like to see enrollment of high school students grow in numbers while maintaining the academic standards that we all hold so strongly. I don’t know what the magic bullet is, or if there is one, but growing the number of students in our middle school is required for a strong high school enrollment. We have always relied upon the integrity, conduct, and pride of our high school students to set the school culture and I have concerns about culture with the addition of the 6th grade and the reality that our middle school will soon outnumber the high school students making a shift in culture a very real possibility.
Ten years from now, we’ll have almost a full turnover in our staff from the days of the school’s founding. We are right now losing many teachers who joined in the first 5 years of the school’s founding to retirement, and staff turnover brings a potential shift in culture, a loss of institutional memory and loss of a great stabilizing force. What that means is that the role of the Steering Committee will need to grow stronger and more fervent in articulating, educating, and preserving the school philosophy and Founding Document. The role of institutional memory will pass to the Steering Committee and the Steering Committee must help the administration to recruit and especially to train new staff members who will carry the torch forward. I hope to see new staff additions who will be fully supportive of the school’s philosophy, the Liberal Arts, and the Founding Document, both in word and in deed.
Ginger Gee: Education changes as trends do, which leads to a frequent reevaluation of curriculum, materials and methods across the educational industry. The Founding Documents, and in turn the Steering Committee, ensure stability with D’Evelyn curriculum. I would hope in five or ten years, the school does not change drastically. I know some community members have expressed fear that our school is losing its desirability among potential families. That leads to a near constant push from various community members to change different aspects of our policies to encourage more enrollment. However, we have a track record of success that stems from our uncompromising approach to the education of D’Evelyn students. Instead of changing who we are, perhaps we should work to eliminate preconceived notions, rumors, and falsehoods about our school which could encourage more people to pursue D’Evelyn. Our students achieve because our teachers, administration, and staff believe they can (and do) hold every student to the same rigorous behavioral and academic standards. Our community comes from all over Jeffco and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Families have chosen this school because they believe it is the best option for their children’s future success. Changing our standards might make us more desirable to some potential families, but it would diminish what the founders hoped to achieve and what we all hope for: children who are well equipped for all their future endeavors.
Jason Nelson: The general goals that I would like D’Evelyn to accomplish in the course of the next year would be to continue the standard of the highest test scores in the State. One of the many great aspects about D’Evelyn that separates it from other schools is there is no teaching to “the test.” Test scores are a result of excellent teachers, a solid curriculum, and the students’ hard work. This only happens because of the Founding Document, which is the guide to the success of the school.
In 5 years, I would like to see D’Evelyn continue to have a dedicated and knowledgeable Steering Committee who will uphold the Founding Document in all the decisions that they make within the bounds of the committee. Whether those it be to issue formal recommendations relating to the governance of the school, interpreting and clarifying the school’s philosophy, recommending curriculum, anticipating and responding to neighborhood concerns, maintaining relations and communications with the District, or facilitating compliance with District policies and state and federal laws and regulations.
I would also like to see a teacher training/retention program that helps educate new teachers about the D’Evelyn program and its Liberal Arts, teacher-directed, whole group instructional pedagogy and offers refresher training for more tenured teachers as well. I would like to help develop this program that will support teachers who are new or are in need of a refresh on the D’Evelyn Philosophy as outlined in the Founding Document.
The Principal Hiring Committee is pleased to announce that one finalist has been chosen to proceed with the next phase of the process which includes participating in a series of stakeholder focus groups.
Focus groups are the D’Evelyn community’s opportunity to hear from and ask questions of our finalist. Most importantly, it is also your opportunity to provide feedback about the finalist to the Principal Hiring Committee following the session. The parent focus group will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28th at 4pm. Please RSVP if you are planning on attending the parent focus group prior to Monday evening so we can coordinate details as to the size of the space needed at D’Evelyn. Please note, if you have previously signed up for focus groups, you do not need to RSVP again. Link to RSVP.
Additionally, students and faculty will also participate in focus groups during 7th period and after school respectively on Tuesday. Our administrative team is coordinating sessions with students and teachers.
I encourage all parents to take the time (whether your are interested in participating in the focus group or not) to read the information below.
The PHC, following the re-posting of the job opening this month, received four additional applications. The PHC met last week to discuss the new pool of applicants and based on our review of the application materials, the Committee narrowed the pool to three, highly qualified candidates. The three candidates interviewed with the Committee on Wednesday, and following those interviews, the PHC selected two candidates to move forward to attend community focus groups. Later in the week, one of the finalists decided to withdraw her name from the process due to personal reasons.
Our finalist, Josh Shapiro, is a supporter of the D’Evelyn program and is invested in our school’s continued success as he currently has two children enrolled at D’Evelyn. Mr. Shapiro is in his seventh year serving as the Principal of Foothills Elementary in Jefferson County. Prior to Foothills, he served as an Assistant Principal at Green Mountain High School, Conifer High School and Alpharetta HS in Georgia. After graduating from Florida State with a B.S. in English Education, Mr. Shapiro started his career as a teacher and taught for 12 years in Florida and Colorado. Mr. Shapiro taught English, Social Studies, Guitar and Drama at both the Jr. High and High School levels. Additionally, Mr. Shapiro holds a Master of Education degree from Grand Canyon University.
If you have immediate questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Steering Committee via email at email@example.com
By: Brock Gustafson, Steering Committee Chair
Here is the latest in our search for a new principal. The district posted job ads across well-respected, higher education websites in December and January, and they successfully attracted nearly a dozen, experienced applicants for our Principal opening. The PHC met mid-month to discuss the pool of applicants and based on the application materials, resumes, educational philosophy statements, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, the Committee narrowed the pool to four, highly qualified candidates. The four candidates interviewed with the Committee, on Wednesday. Following those interviews, the PHC overwhelmingly selected one candidate to move forward in the process and had hoped to hold focus groups with the community today. As you may know, the job market is hot right now for job seekers (there are more openings than qualified candidates), and our chosen candidate has decided to pursue another job offer outside our district. While we are disappointed, we are all on Team D'Evelyn and there is no quit in us. How many times have we seen our Jags struggle, work their tails off and come out stronger on the other side? That is part of the D'Evelyn Difference - I am inspired by our student's hard work and grit and our talented staff who help them on their journey. We will keep working to find our next leader and we will not compromise until we have found the right fit for D'Evelyn. We will provide updates when we have next steps, but in the meantime, we are reposting the position on the Jeffco schools site and elsewhere, and we encourage you to refer any qualified applicants to apply online or email their interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Brock Gustafson, Steering Committee Chair
The PHC is happy to report that the job ads that were posted across the country over the past month were successful in attracting nearly a dozen, highly qualified applicants for our Principal opening. The deadline for applications was Monday of last week and the PHC met last Wednesday to discuss the pool of applicants. Based on the application materials, which included resumes, educational philosophy statements, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, the Committee narrowed the pool to four candidates who will interview with the Committee, in-person on Wednesday, January 25th. Following those interviews, the PHC will select the candidates who will move to focus groups with our community. Due to the confidential nature of the hiring process, details and identities of our applicant pool will not be shared with the community until the final candidates are selected for the focus group phase. Focus groups, which are tentatively planned for Monday, Jan 30th, are the community’s opportunity to interact with and ask questions of the final candidates. Three separate focus groups will be formed, one each for teachers/staff, students, and parents. The admin team is coordinating the student focus groups. If you are a parent/guardian of a student and you would like to attend the focus group with the candidate finalists, please complete this survey so we can coordinate with you.
Once the PHC has gathered and analyzed community feedback from the focus groups, we will hopefully have a clear picture of who we will hire. If there isn’t a consensus, we may hold additional interviews. When the PHC has decided, the PHC will vote and then the Steering Committee will vote to approve. We will then present our selection to the District for final administrative paperwork and other items related to the Jeffco hiring process. The Steering Committee will continue to communicate through Jag Tracks as we proceed through the process. If you have immediate questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Steering Committee via email at email@example.com.
By: Brock Gustafson, Steering Committee Chair
The search for our permanent principal is underway! I want to start by saying thank you to the more than 200 community members, staff, and students who provided feedback on the survey we sent out in the late summer. The Steering Committee reviewed all survey responses, including more than 250 individually written feedback items. Based on your feedback, our next principal should understand the D'Evelyn program and be committed to continuing D'Evelyn's rigorous academic and behavioral standards. Our next principal should be focused on maintaining high-quality instruction and staff. Our community desires a principal who will model integrity and honor and be an excellent communicator and mentor to both teachers and students. Our goal is to hire a candidate who meets and exceeds these expectations.
In October, Principal Hiring Committee (PHC) members were chosen or elected by the various groups which make up our D’Evelyn community: D’Evelyn staff and teachers, Dennison Accountability Committee and administration, D’Evelyn Accountability Committee, D’Evelyn Founders, and Jeffco Schools leadership. Current Steering Committee members round out the PHC to a total of 16 people. The PHC met formally in November to receive training for the upcoming hiring process. Also in November, I had the opportunity to meet with Tracy Dorland, the Jeffco Schools Superintendent, and her executive team. In that meeting, Jeffco Schools committed to providing the resources we requested to empower a successful search, including national advertising across a number of industry publications in addition to job placement websites. With the support of Jeffco Schools leadership, an early start on the hiring process, and the benefit of contacts we built while looking for an interim principal last spring, we are optimistic that we will find the right candidate for our school.
The opening for the principal position will be posted online from 12/15/22 until 1/16/23, and Jeffco leadership agreed that this time period would draw the greatest number of highly qualified candidates. The link to the job posting can be found on the Jobs at Jeffco Website. It is also posted on LinkedIn among other national websites. Please help us cast a wide net by sharing the job on LinkedIn or other education-focused groups you may be a part of. I have also included a flyer that Jeffco recruiting created if you want to share that on other social media sites.
The PHC will review candidate application materials as they are received, and on 1/18/23 we will meet to discuss all the candidates who fully completed their applications. Qualified candidates will be invited to Interview with the PHC, tentatively during the week of 1/23/23 and, assuming a highly qualified candidate or candidates emerge from those interviews, focus groups composed of community members, students, and staff will meet with the candidate(s) in the days afterward. After reviewing feedback from those focus groups, the PHC may vote to move a candidate forward for final approval by the Steering Committee, or, if no clear choice of a top candidate emerges, the PHC may conduct another round of interviews prior to seeking Steering Committee approval. Upon the consent of Steering, the completion of required district background checks and paperwork, and the final candidate’s acceptance of the offer, the name of the new principal will be announced to the D’Evelyn community.
Please remember that this hiring process is a confidential personnel matter and PHC members are prohibited from sharing details about candidates until the focus group phase is reached. The PHC is bound by state and/or federal law as well as Jeffco Schools’ hiring policy which forbids discrimination in the hiring process on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, age, veteran status, or disability.
Please look for upcoming articles in JagTracks and/or email communications from the Steering Committee in January with further updates. If you have additional questions about the process, you can review the hiring process documents (SF-02 policy and regulations) on the Steering Committee website or you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest in the principal hiring process and your commitment to D’Evelyn. On behalf of the Steering Committee, I wish you all a happy holiday season!
By: Ariahn Knoedler, Steering Committee Parent-Vice Chair
My name is Ariahn Knoedler and I am the newest parent member of the D’Evelyn Steering Committee. I am writing to ask you to consider serving on the Steering Committee as we will have two parent vacancies for the next term starting the 2023-2024 school year. I volunteered at Dennison for years, and since my kids started attending D’Evelyn in 2018, I started volunteering by helping out with various social activities. I then started participating in accountability meetings, helped with several textbook and curricular committees, and observed steering meetings for several years.
There are many wonderful ways to help serve at our school and I determined that the Steering Committee is a big reason why our school has maintained such impressive standards of excellence throughout its existence. I completed the required reading several years ago but decided with all four of my girls at D’Evelyn, this year I would pitch and serve on Steering. So far, it has been great - it is a time commitment of four or five hours a month but I am enjoying meeting teachers, and learning about the behind-the-scenes at our great school.
If you are thinking about running for one of the parent spots, the first step would be to read our founding document. Then, if you even have the smallest interest in serving on the Steering Committee next year, please plan to attend our Steering Committee training on Tuesday, November 8 at 6:30 pm (following the accountability meeting- this meeting satisfies one of the required pieces of the application process). In the meantime, you are also welcome to reach out to me personally and I am happy to answer any questions you may have! (303-641-6166 or email@example.com)
By: Founders Carolyn De Raad and Kathi Pitzer
In 1991, groups throughout Colorado were working to develop schools they felt would better educate their children. But school boards always said “no.”
Charter legislation, introduced in 1992, was an attempt to free parents and teachers from the power of a local school board to reject ideas other than their own and allowing an appeal to the State Board of Education. The bill was killed. But, great ideas don’t die. And people who truly believe in ideas don’t allow them to die. Dave D’Evelyn, the father of charter schools in Colorado, continued to work at drafting legislation that could be passed. He and the Colorado Children’s Campaign organized a Charter conference in December of 1992 for an expected 70 attendees. 140 attended.
Governor Romer endorsed the concept of Charter Schools in his 1993 State of the State address, followed immediately with unanimous endorsement from the State Board of Education. We spent hours at the legislature testifying and observing. It was big, with 18 hours of hearings in the Senate Education Committee alone. Finally, in May 1993, the legislature passed the bipartisan Charter School Bill. Governor Romer signed the bill into law.
Sadly, that May, we lost Dave D’Evelyn in a small-plane crash while returning from Durango where he helped charter proposers understand the law. All who worked with Dave knew him to be principled, visionary, and compassionate, He taught well, wrote well, and lived well. His depth of insight, willingness to confront the hard questions in education, defense of individual liberty, and clear adherence to academic excellence were outstanding. He trusted individual parents to make the best choices for their own children.
Parents at Dennison K-8 had long wondered why there was no high school to continue the educational philosophy delivered by Dennison. They were always told, “for your grandchildren perhaps.” With Charter possible, a small group of us met in August 1993, to draft the Philosophy Statement for a high school. Philosophy Statement in hand, we began having public meetings to confirm that the school we envisioned had a clientele - demonstrated by letters of intent. Simultaneously, we researched financial, building, curriculum, transportation, contract, and other necessary issues. We also met with the Jeffco District officials and the media. In December we submitted the final Options proposal to the District, and in January the final Charter version.
When the Jeffco Board heard the proposal we had 900 letters of intent and hundreds of parents attending Board meetings. In March the school was approved as an option and denied as a Charter. We were promised the Manning building and required to write an initial (April) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). We then reviewed the Document with a Jeffco administrator while considering appealing the Charter denial. The June 1993, MOU clarified our relationship with the district, guaranteeing significant operational autonomy. We also named the option school for Dave D’Evelyn.
In May we began enrolling students, hiring teachers, choosing and ordering books, and doing all the necessary things to open D’Evelyn. In August 1994 we opened with our first 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade students. It was no small victory. It is now our collective mission to keep the program worthy of the name it bears.
By: Emily McCaslin-Hahn
As a D’Evelyn graduate, I have a unique perspective. I experienced the Founding Document before I read it. Reading the document after graduating from D’Evelyn in 2012 was a powerful experience. It was not merely an outline for how a school should be structured, but rather a six year period of my life described in one succinct, thoughtful, and thorough document. It outlined from beginning to end the opportunities I was provided throughout my time as a student at D’Evelyn. In reflecting on the overarching themes that I took away from my education at D’Evelyn, I ended up with these 9 statements. During my time at D’Evelyn, I developed the following skills and abilities:
In reading the document, it came to life for me that every bullet point that I was able to pull from experience had been clearly anticipated and outlined by our founders. They deliberately laid out a path that every D’Evelyn graduate would take; they took the time, not to simply start a common school, but to start an uncommon school that would lay a solid foundation for all of its students. They knew that their program would impact a student’s entire life.
In returning to D’Evelyn I have the privilege of passing this foundation on to my students, your children. My colleagues and I deliver the core body of knowledge to your students day by day and year after year to prepare them for the world beyond our walls. You have given your children an incredible gift by enrolling them at D’Evelyn, a gift that I am excited to give my daughter, too. While there will be challenges and hard work, your student will graduate with the knowledge and ability to be successful in any future pursuit.
I would encourage you to take the time to carefully read through our Founding Document, even if you have read it before. If you are a parent of a current D’Evelyn student, I would ask you to take the time to discuss it with your student. Tell them that D’Evelyn is preparing them to be a productive and engaged member of society with the power and potential to make a difference in the world. Help them see how in each of their classes, both current and past, that they are now one step closer to reaching that final goal: not simply building knowledge but also building strong character. If you are a parent of a D’Evelyn graduate, ask your child to reflect on the overarching takeaways learned throughout their time at D’Evelyn; compare them to the Founding Document. And as a parent, be proud of your student for taking on this challenging curriculum and engaging with a variety of subjects. Encourage them when they face challenges, and celebrate each learning opportunity. You have provided your student with a one-of-a-kind education. It is the gift that will keep giving!
I am so excited to continue to partner with you as we begin the 2022-2023 school year. Taking the time to reflect on why we all chose D’Evelyn and what D’Evelyn promises our students will steer us in the right direction for an excellent school year!
By Melinda Bochner, Steering Committee Chair
The Steering Committee is delighted to welcome math teacher Emily McCaslin-Hahn as a new teacher-member of the Steering Committee starting on July 1st. “Mrs. Mac” is a proud 2012 graduate of D’Evelyn. She attended Regis University on a full scholarship to study mathematics, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Secondary Education. Emily teaches both junior high and high school students, and she is currently serving as the head of our outstanding math department. With her deep love and appreciation for D’Evelyn, we know that she will be an invaluable addition to the Steering Committee team.
Congratulations and thank you to our Steering Committee officers for next year. Brock Gustafson, the current Vice Chair, will serve as the SC Chair; Ariahn Knoedler, our newest parent member, will serve as the Vice Chair; and Greg Holland will serve as the secretary for the final year of his term. We know that they will do a terrific job in their new roles, and we thank them for their dedication to the school.
We extend a huge thank you to our two members who have completed their three-year terms and are cycling off the Steering Committee. Teacher-member, Lynne Hobbs, shared her wealth of experience and knowledge of the history of the school. Parent-member, Dana Miller, promoted her deep passion for the school and compassion for all members of the D’Evelyn community. We are grateful for their fearlessness and their tremendous commitment of time and energy over the past three years.
Lastly, we extend immense gratitude and our warmest farewell to our trusty principal, Mr. Josh Griffin, who served on the Steering Committee throughout his five years as principal. Josh was involved in every facet of the school, always reliable, always thorough, always thoughtful. His first priority was what was best for the students, and he sincerely and conscientiously sought the best outcome for students, teachers, and all stakeholders in the D’Evelyn community. Mr. Griffin is responsible for the important and successful addition of sixth grade to our school, as well as the planning and construction of the new wing to accommodate the increasing size of our student body. He steered us successfully through the unprecedented COVID pandemic, ensuring that our students continued to learn and grow, and in the process helped to hire outstanding new faculty members to maintain D’Evelyn’s excellence into the future. Perhaps most importantly, every day Josh demonstrated humility, integrity, and kindness. He was a role model, a mentor, and a friend to each one of us and to countless members of our community. Josh, we will miss you, and we wish you and your family all the best in your next endeavor.
By Brock Gustafson, Steering Committee Vice Chair
This article is a reprint of the Messenger delivered to the D’Evelyn community on Thursday, May 12th, 2022.
We are excited to share that Dr. Rob Bishop will be serving as D’Evelyn’s Interim Principal for the 2022-2023 school year. Rob has decades of educational leadership experience and has embraced the D’Evelyn philosophy whole-heartedly. Rob began his leadership experience in 1996, serving as an Assistant Principal for 10 years in the Mapleton and Aurora Public School systems. In Aurora, after initially serving as an Assistant Principal of Rangeview High School starting in 2000, he was promoted to principal, leading a faculty and staff of 102 employees who served a diverse student population of more than 2,100 students.
In 2006, wanting to live and work closer to his home in Jefferson County, Rob was named principal of Arvada West High School, a Jeffco high school with 1800 students. Rob served as the principal at A-West for 12 years and pioneered numerous innovative programs including the 1:1 Chromebook program which was adopted district-wide, implementing a later start time and increasing Social/Emotional support for students through adding staff.
Rob received his Doctorate in Education from the University of Colorado, Denver in 2013. His focus was “leadership and education equity,” and his dissertation focused on “Eliminating predictable achievement gaps by ensuring that all staff members are prepared to help all students succeed.” Since receiving his Doctorate, Rob has been an Adjunct Professor and Lecturer at CU-Denver’s School of Education and Human Development’s Administrative Licensure and Policy Studies Program. In this capacity, Rob taught curriculum design, lesson development and implementation, and grading. At CU-Denver, he had the opportunity to mentor dozens of principal licensure candidates, many of whom are now principals around the state.
After wrapping up 12 years at Arvada West, Rob was named Jeffco’s Executive Director of Administrator Learning. In this capacity, Rob defined a district-wide Educator Learning plan to include parallel learning opportunities for school and central based administrators that aligned with teacher learning. This included teacher and leader career pathway programs, teacher and principal Learning Labs, developing monthly leadership learning, and beginning / end of year all-leadership learning events. Rob officially retired in 2021, but as he likes to say, he “failed retirement,” and has been doing consulting work for Jeffco Schools since retiring, serving as a school leadership coach at various locations within the Jeffco school system. In this role he works directly with principals and school leadership teams to assess and enhance leadership team effectiveness.
Dr. Bishop has been married to his wife, Wendy, for 13 years and they are proud of their blended family that includes three daughters, Laura, Jill, and Mackenzie, and son Michael. He attributes their success as young adults to the many skilled teachers and quality education they were privileged to have throughout their K-12 education. Rob and Wendy most enjoy their new roles as grandparents to Owen, Rory, and Taylor. Rob is a Colorado native who loves his hometown sports teams and enjoys keeping fit and active through a variety of outdoor activities such as cycling, running, hiking, golf, snowshoeing, and skiing.
We are honored that Rob chose to apply for the interim role and even more honored that he has chosen to lead our school for the next school year. With his decades of experience, Rob will be a wonderful resource for students, faculty and staff. We are excited to see what we all can achieve together in 2022-2023!
By: Melinda Bochner, Steering Committee Chair
The Steering Committee is delighted to welcome Ariahn Knoedler as the newest member of the Steering Committee who will begin her three-year term on June 1st. Ariahn completed a comprehensive application and interview process, and the Steering Committee voted unanimously to welcome her to the team. Ariahn has two daughters currently at D’Evelyn as well as two daughters at Dennison who will enter 6th grade at D’Evelyn this fall. Ariahn was deeply involved at Dennison, serving as the PTA president. Her understanding of the Founding Document is thorough and her commitment to the success of D’Evelyn is unwavering. We look forward to the leadership experience and dedication that Ariahn will bring to the Steering Committee.
We also have positive news regarding our search for an interim principal for the 2022-2023 school year. On May 4th, the Steering Committee met with multiple candidates for the position. We were greatly encouraged by the quality of candidates interested in serving as the D’Evelyn interim principal. Through interviews and deliberations, the Steering Committee identified one finalist to serve in the principal position next year. We are confident that this highly respected and experienced former Jeffco administrator will be an excellent leader for the D’Evelyn community in 2022-2023. Our finalist is currently working with Jeffco Schools leadership to complete the hiring process. We are hopeful that this process will be completed by the middle of this week, at which time we will introduce the next principal of D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School to our faculty, staff, and school community.
Thank you for your support throughout the hiring process this spring. We look forward to another successful school year at D’Evelyn in 2022-2023!
By: Melinda Bochner, Steering Committee Chair
The Steering Committee is in the process of hiring an experienced interim principal to serve D’Evelyn over the next school year while we conduct a comprehensive nation-wide search for a permanent principal. We have disbanded the Principal Hiring Committee (PHC) and will form a new PHC in accordance with the Founding Document and our school policies for the renewed search. We are exploring funding options to retain a professional recruiter to conduct a fruitful, nation-wide search for candidates qualified to lead our extraordinary school. We thank the members of the D’Evelyn community for your interest in the principal hiring process, your care about the school, and your contributions to DEF to ensure its future success.
Steering Committee officers: Melinda Bochner, Brock Gustafson, and Dana Miller
While Mr. Edwards has withdrawn his candidacy for the principal position, we would like to address recent questions and concerns. Many of you have made inquiries and provided feedback (both positive and negative) about our principal hiring process and the candidate the Principal Hiring Committee (PHC) brought forth, Mr. Edwards. We thank you for your input and your care, and we have noted all of your feedback both online and through direct correspondence. Many of you have asked why we selected this candidate. In our attempts to answer your queries, we have been blocked by administrators in the Jefferson County School District and unable to disseminate any additional information through official school channels (SchoolMessenger), including the candidate’s application packet which includes his resume, philosophy statement, cover letter and letters of recommendation. The PHC is a 14-member group of parents (from both D’Evelyn and Dennison), staff, administration, Steering Committee, and a (non-voting) district representative. All of the members from both schools believe in D’Evelyn, love D’Evelyn, and want the very best leadership for D’Evelyn. PHC committed endless hours to this process, reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, talking, debating, and coming together (some members even participated while traveling out of the country and during spring break).
After posting the opening on more than a dozen local and nationally focused websites for more than a month, contacting recruiters and reaching out to district and other personal contacts, we received 15 applications. Twelve of the 15 were incomplete and we contacted each candidate to encourage them to complete their application. In the end, only three applicants completed their applications. The three candidates provided a resume, philosophy statement, cover letter, transcripts from any post-secondary education and at least three letters of recommendation including one from their current supervisor. Although, after the first review of the application materials, the PHC had reservations about some of the candidates, especially in the areas of philosophical alignment, in the interest of transparency, fairness and thoroughness, the PHC voted to interview all three candidates.
The evaluation of our three candidates was extensive and intensive. Each candidate was interviewed, in person, using the same, prescribed list of twenty questions. Each candidate also prepared a writing sample that was completed shortly before or after the in-person interview. In-person questions came from previous hiring committees as well as new questions from the PHC. D’Evelyn’s policies list requirements for hiring staff, including a principal, and those policies include: SF-01 Hiring and SF-02 Regulation Principal Hiring.
All of these documents are available to the community at the links above. The PHC’s guiding principles were to determine if the candidates met the criteria gleaned from the Founding Document (FD).
After the first round of interviews, consensus was reached within the PHC that only one candidate met the above criteria, especially with regard to experience and alignment with the philosophy of the school. At this point, the PHC, knowing that the remaining candidate had a prior tenure at D’Evelyn and the circumstances around his leaving were related to a criminal conviction, the PHC did further background information searches, including reviewing past Steering Committee minutes and exhibits regarding the conviction, the Steering Committee’s decision to retain the candidate and later his dismissal. The PHC read the criminal complaints and the trial transcript. Consensus was reached within the PHC to move forward with a second-round interview with the candidate to satisfy additional questions gleaned from the further research done on the candidate. The second-round interview included seven pre-written questions from the PHC, follow-up questions, a statement from the candidate and many additional questions following the candidate’s statement.
After the final candidate’s second round interview, robust debate took place. The PHC took into consideration all aspects of the candidate’s application materials, interviews, and background information. The PHC considered the many recommendations included in the application packet from teachers, administrators and community members who worked with the candidate in the past, including founders of the school and teachers who have been at D’Evelyn for more than 25 years. There is no doubt amongst the PHC that Mr. Edwards demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills throughout his career and especially during his time at D’Evelyn. As a committee, we read and heard the words “he was the best principal we’ve ever had” more times than we can count. We also considered letters from the candidate’s spouse and family members. Throughout the process, we gained additional understanding about both his criminal conviction and about his growth as a person. The committee unanimously believes the candidate had proven to be an excellent principal and has all the skills to be an excellent principal again. There was concern expressed and much debate held in the committee about the public perception of bringing forward a candidate with a criminal conviction related to domestic violence and the potential threat to D’Evelyn’s reputation. The committee believed that the candidate had completed his sentence, had shown no pattern of abusive behavior through an absence of further arrests and through written testimony from his wife and his wife's family, and the candidate had shown remorse for the incident and had grown since his conviction. At no point did anyone on the PHC believe that the candidate would jeopardize the safety of the D’Evelyn community. Given the candidate’s history of success at D’Evelyn, and that his philosophical alignment and his leadership skills were so overwhelming, the majority believed that the candidate should be moved forward in the process to focus groups. The focus groups would not only be a gauge of community sentiment, but would also be an opportunity to see if the candidate could overcome objections related to his criminal conviction by meeting with the community, sharing his story and how he had grown since his criminal conviction.
Although it was not a unanimous decision, after considering all the information about the candidate, a two-thirds majority (including all but one female member) voted to move the candidate forward in the process to focus groups to gain feedback from the D’Evelyn community. In that same session, the JeffCo Schools Administration communicated to the PHC that the “District’s stance is that we want the process [focus groups] to move forward.” It was not until after our candidate’s name was released to the D’Evelyn community that our Jeffco Schools Administration contact sent his formal letter of non-support to the Steering Committee and Jeffco Schools subsequently released the letter to the press.
We understand that bringing forth this candidate to our community through focus groups has been controversial. We were aware that in doing so, there would be blowback, but the PHC believed strongly enough in our community and the potential of this candidate to provide an opportunity to hear from him, ask questions and formulate their own opinions on whether he is suitable to be the next D'Evelyn principal. It has always been our intent to hear from our community and consider feedback before engaging in the next step of the process which would have been either to recommend this candidate to the district or pass on this remaining candidate, declare a failed search, and start the process over. Please understand that this group of dedicated parents and staff volunteers has only the best interest of the school at heart and has not been influenced by any parties outside of the principal hiring process.
The PHC did receive a number of questions regarding diversity in the candidate pool. Although unrelated to the candidate pool, women made up the majority of voting members of the PHC. As a part of being a PHC member, each member was trained on Jeffco’s Equal Opportunity policies within the hiring process. Jeffco School’s policy forbids discrimination with regard to race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, age, veteran status or disability. As such, the PHC could not ask questions regarding a candidate’s race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, age, veteran status or disability. Neither could the PHC consider a candidate’s race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, age, veteran status or disability in any discussions with or about any of the candidates. The PHC is also not able to provide any information regarding the candidate pool’s race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, age, veteran status or disability.
By: Melinda Bochner, Steering Committee Chair
Since our last principal hiring update in Jag Tracks on 3/12, the 14-member Principal Hiring Committee (PHC) completed the application stage of the principal hiring process by thoroughly reviewing all completed applications and determining whom to invite to interview. We subsequently conducted in-depth interviews of three candidates, and we are now considering the next stage of the hiring process.
Please note that we did not hold Focus Groups on April 4th. Further information about Focus Groups will be provided later.
The PHC remains committed to selecting as our next principal an extraordinary individual who will continue D’Evelyn’s academic excellence and provide a renewed excitement and passion for our outstanding school while maintaining an unwavering commitment to our school’s founding principles.
By: Brock Gustafson, Steering Committee Vice Chair
Pursuant to The D’Evelyn Steering Committee election process, qualified candidates for election to the Steering Committee will attend a public forum on April 12th at 5pm (prior to the Accountability Committee Meeting). Ariahn Knoedler is our qualified parent candidate for election for the next term starting next semester. Below is Ariahn’s bio and a response to a question from the application. Please plan on attending the candidate forum on the 12th if you wish to ask Ariahn any questions prior to her approval to be added to the steering committee during our May meeting.
Ariahn Knoedler was raised in Boulder, Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor's degree in Spanish Literature. She married her best friend from high school, Matt, and worked in the financial industry for 10 years. After her second child, Ariahn chose to switch careers and focus on caring for her family while working as a pianist. Ariahn plays piano for several Catholic churches in the western suburbs, and for the children’s choir at Academia Ana Marie Sandoval in Denver. She volunteers regularly and served a term as president of the Dennison Elementary PTA. Matt and Ariahn have four girls, Ciara (Sophomore), Aida (Freshman), and twins, Bethany and Sadie who will be in 6th grade at D’Evelyn next year. In her free time, she enjoys road biking with her husband and friends, hiking with her daughters, making pies, and reading. She is thrilled all four of her children will be at D’Evelyn next year and is looking forward to supporting the excellence of our great school.
Application Question: What general goals do you want D’Evelyn to accomplish in the course of the next year? What would you like D‘Evelyn to look like in five years? What is your vision for D’Evelyn ten years from today?
In short, my hope for D’evelyn 5, 10, or 25 years down the line, is that many things remain the same. Anyone who has chosen to be at this school, whether a teacher, an administrator, a parent, or a student must know in the core of their being that this is a special place. We are special not only because of our academic excellence. In fact, our exemplary test scores are symptomatic of something much more important, something much more enduring. The excellent teaching and learning that takes place in this school is the result of a quiet determination, a counter-cultural grit, an unyielding desire for all of us to try and try again until we all have achieved our very best as teachers, administrators, parents, and students. The D’Evelyn model is an alternative educational environment that holds paramount that all students “should be held to rigorous academic and behavioral standards” and that “all students can achieve in a challenging program.” But these are not the values held paramount by Jefferson County Board of Education nor in the general education philosophy of our time. Because what we do is against the grain, it is natural that there would be tension. In fact, there is tremendous pressure for D’Evelyn to conform to the norms in education in the present time. But to choose to modify our core tenants to align with these norms would be to choose the mediocrity that exists all around us. It is critical that our Steering Committee, the Administration, Parents, and Students find unity in our common purpose. We must tread cautiously when considering any potential change to behavioral or academic standards, for it is these very standards that have produced the consistent and unmatched academic results and have prepared thousands of students to be effective participants in their communities.”
The Steering Committee is the governing board of the school and establishes policies designed to maintain and enhance its liberal arts philosophy. The Steering Committee appoints Directors to the Board of the D'Evelyn Education Foundation.