Dear Team DPS,
Having the opportunity to lead the school district where I started as a student and then became a classroom teacher has been an honor -- it’s an incredibly meaningful and important part of my life. The Denver community is where I grew up, where Eric and I raised and educated our children, and where I've spent my entire career as an educator. It has meant so much to me -- as a student, as a teacher, as a mom and as a leader. And so it is with mixed emotions and a bittersweet feeling that I share the news that I have decided to accept a position in Dallas Independent School District as the Deputy Superintendent of Leading and Learning.
As the child of Mexican-American parents and a first-generation college graduate, I know that I owe a debt of gratitude to DPS, and I have been honored to spend the past 31 years as a member of Team DPS. Thank you for your support over the last two years as we have weathered many challenges but also seen great success. I'm so proud of how Team DPS and the entire community comes together -- no matter how high the hill -- to lift up our schools and our children. During the past two years, we’ve experienced a teacher strike, a “bomb cyclone” snowstorm, budget cuts and reorganizations, and a global pandemic. And throughout all of this, we've invested in our classrooms and our teachers; strengthened our connections and collaboration with our educators and leaders; elevated equity as the defining value driving all of our work; and been boosted by our community's historic and record-high support of our 2020 Bond and Mill Levy initiatives on this past Election Day.
I am especially proud of the work we have done to position equity at the core of our identity. We have conducted training for educators in culturally responsive practices, established equity boot camps and the year-long Equity Experience. We have created school-based Black Excellence Plans that are designed to ensure that our students of color, and particularly our Black students, have the support they need to be successful in their academic and social-emotional development. In the most recent school year, despite the global pandemic and the sudden move to remote learning, we had record-high graduation rates, record-low remediation rates and more students than ever taking and passing rigorous courses. As a former teacher and school leader, I am also proud of the work I have led to change the tone and tenor of the relationship with our teachers and school leaders. We are a more collaborative district, and I have built systems and structures to sustain this work going forward. The historic passage of our 2020 Bond and Mill Levy, with the highest voter support in over 30 years, will also provide desperately needed resources to help our students thrive. We can collectively claim this success in the name of our students, and I’m so grateful to our community for that strong vote of confidence.
I am sad to be leaving Denver, but I will be eternally grateful to everyone I have worked with and learned from over the past decades. I will work with the Board and the senior-leadership team over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition, and I want you to know that Denver will forever be home to me.
I've always given my all to DPS. And it has given me so much in return. I will carry with me the memory of my first day teaching middle school in northwest Denver and the first student who walked through my classroom door -- Hilda Contreras. And I carry with me the thrill I felt when Hilda reached out to me, 25 years later, to share with me the success her son had at Emily Griffith High School, where he graduated with honors after struggling at multiple high schools around the Denver area. I will always be uplifted by the brilliance and dedication of the wonderful educators I've worked alongside and worked to bring to Denver. And I will always be deeply grateful for the chance to lead the schools that, throughout my entire life, have meant so much to me and my family. DPS is all of us -- a community dedicated to its children. Our schools are game-changers for Denver’s kids, and they will continue to make a difference in our students’ lives for generations to come, just like DPS did for me and my family.
Thank you for all that you do to make the difference for generations of kids in Denver.