Our students have navigated the last year and a half with strength and determination. The children across our city need intentional and dynamic educational and emotional support as they move into the 2021-2022 school year. The educators and staff of our school district have shown themselves to be adaptive, creative, and capable. They, like our students, need to be given resources and a vision to create a better system of learning. As we move from the crisis of a pandemic into a time of transition, we have the opportunity to address systemic problems and long-standing inequities in education. We cannot rush into a ‘new normal,’ or worse, allow things to return to what they were. We have an opportunity to do better for our students, educators, staff, and community. That is why I was excited to choose Dr. Alex Marrero as our new superintendent.
As a Board, we hosted more than 50 focus groups, bringing in hundreds of voices that represent the diversity of our student population and community. We gathered thousands of responses from surveys. We heard clearly that the community desired a leader who would build relationships and connect across the different experiences, cultures, current and historical contexts of Denver. From his experiences as a student of color and an English-language learner, his time as a school counselor and building leader, and his executive leadership in our country’s largest city, Dr. Marrero is uniquely equipped to keep students at the center of our district’s long-term strategic vision and day-to-day efforts.
My questions of every candidate for the position focused on the needs of multilingual learners, specifics on raising our reading proficiency and graduation rates, and how to address declining enrollment due to gentrification. I eliminated from my consideration candidates who did not respond to the pandemic with a strong, science-based response. I also prioritized finding someone who was a unifier, who did not allow ideology to divide people. Dr. Marrero responded to these areas with strength and wisdom.
Dr. Marrero asks big questions and looks for answers in the lived experiences of students, staff, and community. He holds impeccable standards for himself and leads from a deep sense of calling. He smoothly oscillates between the newest educational theories and the practicalities of the classroom. He has demonstrated his commitment to equity and put in the hard work to move institutions toward it. He also listens compassionately when students ask questions.
The task before him is immense. He, and the Board with him, recognize the work and results required to build trust. I am working with him to introduce him to the district I represent, through school visits, community meetings, and conversations with community leaders and elected officials. In the months to come, we will announce dates and locations for times to meet him as we gather in local parks. He will be available not only to answer your questions, but we are designing reverse town-halls where he can ask questions of you to listen to the hopes, fears, and realities of your family and students.
I hope you will join me in welcoming our new superintendent. Even more so, I hope you will join Dr. Marrero, our teachers and staff, the entire Board of Education, and me, in committing to the conversations and work that will offer our students the education they deserve.
Director Laurvick is the elected DPS Board of Education member representing District 5, which includes North and West Denver. He can be reached at Brad_Laurvick@dpsk12.org