🔗Seven things you need to know about a school (before you enroll your kid)

The second most important decision you will make as a parent — apart from deciding to have the kid in the first place — is deciding which school for them to enroll in. Make the right decision and you could put them on a path toward lifelong learning, a prestigious college education and a successful career. Read more in TIME.

🔗U.S. students rank 32nd in math proficiency, 17 in reading

Our nation’s graduating high school class of 2011 had a 32 percent proficiency rate in math and a 31 percent proficiency rate in reading, leaving many to question whether schools are adequately preparing students for the 21st century global economy. Read more in the School Library Journal.

🔗Poudre high school freshmen armed with laptops

This year all 2,050 freshmen at Poudre School District’s  four comprehensive high schools will receive a laptop computer as part of the district’s effort to equip students with 21st century skills. The laptops, funded by mill and bond dollars approved by voters in fall 2010, will be checked out to students for the next four years.

Freshmen at Poudre High School will be the first in the district to receive the laptops in September. The program will roll out gradually to the other high schools until all ninth-graders have a laptop. More than 30 Poudre H.S. teachers recently participated in computer training, courtesy of Intel, to prepare for teaching to students with laptops. Students and parents will also receive training on how to care for and use the computer safely, as well as how to use programs like Pinnacle Internet Viewer and Blackboard.

Monique Flickinger, PSD instructional technology integration coordinator, believes the computers will keep more students engaged in the classroom in all subject areas.

PHS math teacher Justin Koehn agrees. “This will allow us to focus on the problem-solving techniques rather than just the correct answer. It’s real-world problem solving and forces the focus to be on critical thinking skills,” he said, excited that all students will benefit. “All of my students will have access to the same technology and resources, not just the wealthy.”

🔗Denver schools receive $12 million ‘Principal Pipeline’ grant

Denver Public Schools has been awarded a $12 million grant by the Wallace Foundation to invest in building the next corps of outstanding principals to lead the city’s schools. Over the next five years, the money will be invested in a series of principal-preparation programs that give aspiring leaders support from a mentor principal and intensive residency-based leadership development opportunities alongside that mentor.

With DPS’s selection for the Wallace grant, DPS has now been awarded more than $100 million in competitive federal and foundation grants over the past three years to support its key student-centered improvement initiatives.

“We know how important great school leaders are, and that is why we have made recruiting and developing great principals a core element of our strategic Denver Plan,” said DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg.  “We are thrilled to be recognized nationally for our work with principals, and this grant from the Wallace Foundation is a recognition of that success and a terrific investment in our efforts to make the support and development program for new principals even stronger.”

🔗Foundation picks 13 school districts to serve as “learning laboratories”

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has announced the selection of the Colorado Integration Project Partner Districts that will work to significantly improve the number and rate of students who graduate from Colorado high schools ready for college or career.

  • The Integration Districts are:
  • Centennial School District
  • Denver Public Schools
  • Eagle County School District
  • San Juan BOCES (nine school districts in the Southwest corner of the state)
  • Thompson School District

“We believe every school should have an effective leader, every classroom should have an effective teacher and every student should be healthy and ready to learn,” said President and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, Helayne Jones.  “Throughout the country there is an increased awareness about the crucial importance of effective instruction.  Colorado is leading the way by significantly increasing expectations not only for students but for educators as well.”

Read more.

🔗Kids In Need gives 1,600 Denver students school supplies

In partnership with the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Foundation, the Kids In Need Foundation will donate 1,600 backpacks filled with school supplies to needy children in Denver Public Schools. This generous donation is made possible thanks to a $25,000 grant awarded to the Kids In Need Foundation by the Staples Foundation for Learning. Staples and the Staples Foundation for Learning are longtime supporters of Kids In Need.

school suppliesOn the first day of school, 1,600 students arrived in their classrooms to find brand new backpacks with all the supplies they need for a great start to the school year. Recipients are kindergarteners through fifth-graders at College View Elementary, Columbian Elementary, Ellis Elementary and Hallett Fundamental Academy.

“Especially in this difficult economic climate, purchasing school materials can be a huge burden for many families in our school to bear,” said Kyle Gamba, Principal at College View Elementary. “It’s easy to take for granted that students will start a new school year with the basic materials they need to be successful in the classroom. And yet, every year, we see so many children who don’t have that advantage.”

For more information, visit www.kinf.org.  Follow Kids In Need Foundation on Twitter http://twitter.com/kidsinneed.

🔗About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.