Students Grow and Shine at Trevista

By Erich Jegier

Trevista students cut loose at the school’s Fun Run. Photo courtesy of Trevista at Horace Mann

“Trevista is like one big family, there are really good people there,” said Anisha Berrier. Berrier’s two children attend Trevista at Horace Mann, an elementary school located next to Ciancio Park at Navajo and 42nd. 

“It takes a village,” Berrier said, “and Trevista has been my village.”

Trevista first opened as an ECE to eighth-grade school in 2008 when Smedley and Remington elementary schools and Horace Mann middle school combined, then shrunk to ECE to fifth grades in 2015 with declining middle-school enrollment. Today, 388 K-5 students and about 100 ECE students fill the school. 

Amy Murin said she feels the power of the Trevista community every time she drops her second-grade daughter off for school. Xavier Sherman, dean of school culture, waves enthusiastically at students and greets them by name. Murin’s daughter gets a hug from last year’s teacher on her way toward the building, and then another from this year’s teacher. Murin said Trevista’s welcoming community encourages students to connect with one another and try new things.

If you ask Trevista students why they love their school, they’re happy to tell you: friends, teachers, school musicals, sports teams, after-school activities, the list goes on.

Trevista’s brick exterior exudes a sense of safety and soundness. Inside, voices ring out from classrooms and bounce up and down the halls. A poster of Trevista’s mascot, Frankie the Falcon, hangs in the main hallway. Students earn feathers and attach them to Frankie when they demonstrate Trevista’s core values.

“Ms. Mullins is like the backbone,” Berrier said. “The teachers are the legs and the arms, Ms. Mullins keeps everything together.” 

Principal Jessica Mullins joined Trevista as a fifth-grade teacher 11 years ago and became principal in 2020. She said Trevista teachers and staff work hard to create strong relationships with students and families and foster a safe and healthy school environment. 

“You have to let students and families know how much you care about their learning, their success, and their social-emotional well-being,” Mullins said.

Since its founding, Trevista has supported economically disadvantaged students and their families, with Denver Housing Authority’s Quigg Newton Homes sitting just north of the school.

Berrier said finding the Trevista community was the best thing that could have happened to her family when they moved to North Denver a few years ago. She said the school is great at communicating with families who work during the day and that teachers have even given her children rides to school on days they miss the bus.

Love and acceptance are central to Trevista’s school culture, said Mullins. From classroom teachers to support staff, each person is seen as critical to fostering school values. The school’s high teacher retention provides continuity for students, which in turn helps them feel at home. 

Mullins called Trevista a “teaching academy,” where professional development is prioritized and teachers are encouraged to share knowledge and help each other. A few years ago, teachers suggested the school revoke a rule requiring students to walk silently in the hallways. Now, students can be seen skipping or hopping on one leg down the halls with smiles on their faces. 

Staff receiving the DPS Whole Child Distinguished School award. Photo courtesy of Trevista at Horace Mann

In 2012, Trevista scored a red rating, the lowest possible, on the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) School Performance Framework. A turnaround plan was established, and by 2015 the school had rebounded and upgraded its rating to green. Last year, Trevista received the DPS Whole Child Distinguished School award. Next, it hopes to achieve the CDE blue rating for distinguished schools.

In 2018, Trevista opened its dual language immersion program to better serve the neighborhood’s native Spanish speakers. 

Murin said the program is “an amazing opportunity for her [daughter] to begin to realize that her world is way bigger than North Denver.” This year, her classroom spent time each week learning about a different Spanish-speaking country: its customs, holidays and how Spanish sounds different there.

Trevista has seen changes in the community it serves. Ten years ago, 98% of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch; today that number is 64%. Some at the school say Trevista’s economic diversity helps students understand experiences outside their own and learn to show empathy.

Trevista families volunteer for afterschool activities, show up for performances and field day and attend PTA meetings. Mullins knows that involvement with the school looks different for every family. The most important thing, Mullins said, is to “advocate for your child” and then “watch them shine.”

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