By Gina Coco
Paul T. Hill in School Choice and Social Controversy: Politics, Policy, and Law, published by the Brookings Institute, notes that a strong school with an established identity—well-defined goals and instructional methods—must deliver on its promises for stability, continuity, and a continuing clientele. Teachers in such school’s benefit by being more actively engaged in reflecting on their own practices and being able to solve problems more effectively. Hill further describes the best schools as distinctive, coherent, and reliable—having a mission that is consistent and guarded. D’Evelyn is such a school. D’Evelyn’s founders had such a mission, and it continues to be maintained and protected by the D’Evelyn Steering Committee.
D’Evelyn’s staff is charged with implementing the D’Evelyn philosophy as defined in the D’Evelyn Document. Here is one staff member’s very accurate view of D’Evelyn—what it is, why it works, and how we know it works.
Compliments of Briant McKellips and the Science Department
The overarching consideration for classroom practice at D’Evelyn is the D’Evelyn “Document.” The mission of the founding committee was to provide all students with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum that would prepare each for college should he or she choose to go. This commitment to a broad-based study of the great ideas which have shaped civilization guides all classroom practices in all academic disciplines ranging from pre-algebra to P.E. to vocal music to physics to drama to philosophy to economics to 7th grade literature. We are a textbook based curriculum; therefore, classes are standardized from teacher to teacher within a given discipline by holding up the text as the knowledge that needs to be imparted in a given year. We teach for learning. Our first principal, Lloyd Carlton, used to say, “You haven’t taught it unless they know it.” We hold this up as our standard and do not believe that simply “covering” the material gets the job done.
The most important instructional practice at D’Evelyn, which is somewhat different than other schools, is teacher directed, whole-group instruction. At Back-to-School night, I had parents who wanted to know if their students were in my small physics classes or my large ones; at D’Evelyn the question is somewhat irrelevant. I teach a class of fifteen students in almost exactly the same manner as a class of thirty-two. Nearly all teachers at D’Evelyn employ a range of techniques from lecture to modeling to demonstrations to review to Socratic questioning to nightly homework.
No classroom at D’Evelyn is an island. The administration supports the school-wide classroom practices, especially as they relate to school discipline. Rigorously enforced discipline standards make one of the pillars upon which teachers can work. The Steering Committee makes sure the practices and learning in one classroom or discipline fits with the overall plan of the liberal arts education for the entire 7th — 12th experience. We see a 7th grader as someone who needs the entire D’Evelyn 7th — 12th grade experience to be properly intellectually equipped as a graduate to tackle college and/or life.
Our amazing test scores on widely recognized standardized tests such as ITED/ITBS, AP, SAT, SAT II, ACT, and CSAP speak for themselves. I’m always somewhat surprised our results are dismissed out-of-hand with comments like “Well, of course you do so well with those kids.” There are certainly schools whose populations have at least our level of socioeconomic advantage and parental support that are not doing as well. What impresses me most about the D’Evelyn education is the progress that students make from 7th to 12th grade on these tests—something that cannot be dismissed.
D’Evelyn has a far higher percentage of kids taking advanced science courses as electives than in other schools. And our AP test rate is much higher than the district and national averages. Again, the college readiness tests such as SAT, SAT II and ACT are what I feel are the ultimate assessments to consider.
Also, data items such as college acceptance rates and college graduation rates are crucially important and seem (though we are very young and our first graduates are just now college seniors) to be panning out nicely.
At D’Evelyn, parental support for both the discipline procedures and educational practices is crucial. We are a demanding school that places an emphasis on nightly homework as critical for student success. Students need to be encouraged at home to complete this work with priority over student employment and sports and other extra-curricular activities during the academic week.
Originally published in the October 2001 publication of the JagTracks. CSAP, a state test, is no longer in use in Colorado having been superseded by several subsequent state tests.
The annual Steering Committee Candidate Public Forum will be held on Tuesday April 10th at 6:45 PM in the D’Evelyn Library immediately after the Accountability Committee meeting. There are two parent candidates, Melinda Bochner, and Gina Coco, running for two positions. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions of each of the candidates. Mrs. Bochner is seeking election for a parent position on Steering Committee for a three-year term. Mrs. Coco is running for re-election to a parent position. Learn more about Mrs. Bochner and Mrs. Coco by reading their biographies in this issue of the Jaguar Tracks. The annual forum provides the D’Evelyn community an opportunity to meet all the candidates and determine how each candidate will support and uphold the D’Evelyn school philosophy.
I was born in Denver as a 4th generation Coloradan. Due to my father’s career as a geophysicist, I spent half of my childhood living in foreign countries, including Australia (8 years), South Africa and Canada. I completed high school at Cherry Creek HS and subsequently attended Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. My professional education includes a law degree from the UCLA School of Law and a medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. I am a member of the Colorado Bar and trained in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The joy of my life is my husband and three daughters. My oldest daughter is currently in 8th grade at D’Evelyn, the middle will be attending D’Evelyn next year as a 7th grader, and my youngest is in 3rd grade at Bradford K-8. Currently, I’m a “stay at home mom,” grateful for the opportunity to raise and spend time with my girls.
I am honored to be a candidate for the D’Evelyn Steering Committee. While I do not have any formal education in the field of education or educational policy, I have some experience serving on the Education Committee (one year as the head of the committee) at my religious institution, overseeing all aspects of the Religious School. More importantly, I am deeply committed the D’Evelyn philosophy and curriculum. It would be my goal to ensure that D’Evelyn remains true to its “constitution” and continues to provide every D’Evelyn student the extraordinary opportunity to obtain a rigorous, solid educational foundation.
Gina Coco is a mother of 4 children and married to her husband, Tom. Her oldest daughter recently graduated from the BFA program in animation at Long Beach, her son is in 11th grade and her identical twin boys are in 9th grade this year. She was the CEO of a broker/dealer firm for 20 years in CA, selling it in 2008 and then relocating to Evergreen, CO. She is currently semi-retired, flying to meet with CA clients, as a financial advisor, a few times a year. The Coco family attends Red Rocks Church in Golden and is actively involved in church life.
Gina was appointed to be on the Steering Committee for the 2014-2015 year, served a 3-year elected term from 2015 until present and has greatly enjoyed the opportunity to dive into serving the D'Evelyn community. In the past, she has served in several Board of Director positions, Accountability Committees at both D'Evelyn and an additional Jeffco Charter school, and on church boards.
Gina believes that a great education is the foundation for each member of society and that this education enables our society to grow and flourish. She is 100% in support of the liberal arts curriculum that D'Evelyn requires of all its graduates and would feel privileged to serve another full term on D'Evelyn's Steering Committee. Gina believes there is nothing more important than the protection of the Founding Document to the school's future continued success.
D’Evelyn’s Founders established five pillars upon which our unique program is built: the school’s clear philosophy statement, its defined curriculum and instructional methods, the outcomes promised to graduates of our program, and a governance model that gave defined roles to parents, administrators and teachers. The fifth pillar that the Founders erected is a model for providing excellent, well-qualified, professional educators to bring our program to life for our students. March and April are hiring season at D’Evelyn, and we hope to have you know the ideals by which we hire and consider taking part in this process.
The Founding Document (pages 25-29) of 1994 set out principles for the staffing of the school. Almost 25 years later, these principles remain just as valuable for use today as they were in 1994. Building on those principles, the Steering Committee now also relies on our Staffing Directives to ensure that D’Evelyn maintains the Founders’ brilliant vision for hiring teachers, counselors, and administrators. The principles which yield the best possible hiring outcomes are:
Our Founders knew that hiring must be an intentional choice of persons who believe in and enact D’Evelyn’s model of curriculum and instruction. Among their other key observations is this:
“The power [of teachers] to inspire interest in learning or to cause the student to react with indifference to the subject being taught... [each teacher] should have extensive knowledge in his/her respective area. We will look for… lifelong learners who are able to share their love of a subject.” (Founding Document, p. 32)
It is the shared job of the Steering Committee, D’Evelyn administrators, teachers, and the parent volunteers who serve on hiring committees to adhere to these tenets when making new hiring decisions necessitated by retirements and other staff departures. In this way we ensure that we do not undermine this pillar upon which our students’ success rests. We always are eager to find new parent volunteers to serve on hiring committees. If you are committed to D’Evelyn’s educational philosophy and perhaps additionally have expertise in one of our academic or elective content areas (the former is a requirement, the latter would be a plus but is not required), please do not hesitate to reach out to our Principal (Josh.Griffin@jeffco.k12.co.us) or Steering Committee Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) to indicate your interest.
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.