School: Stedman Elementary
Tours: Call ahead to schedule a tour. Best times available to tour are in the mornings from 9:15-11 or the afternoons from 1:30-3:00.
Main Phone: 303.322.7781
Principal: Deborah Johnson-Graham
Location: 2940 Dexter Street, Denver, CO 80207—(north) Park Hill neighborhood
Hours: 8:45 AM-3:45 PM (early release day every other Friday)
Grades: ECE-5th Grade
Average Class Size: There are approximately 350 students that attend this school. Class size is 25 students or less on average. There is a half-day ECE program for 3 year olds and a half-day and full day ECE for four year olds. It is one of the eight DPS schools that offer Advanced Kindergarten. There is one Advanced K class.
Before/After Care: After school programs are offered to students in various grade levels at different times throughout the school year (e.g. golf, a science club through the Museum of Nature and Science, etc). An after school tutoring program is available for students (M-Th).
Facilities/Playground: The playground is wonderful; everything has had a facelift! It gives me hope for the school my children attend. The equipment is new, bright, and colorful. The organized play areas on the black top have colorful paint for hopscotch, four-square, and other games. There was another spacious black top with several basketball nets. Also, there’s a grassy area for organized play and a small community garden that is maintained by the staff, children, and parents at Stedman.
Special & Core Programs: A half-day ECE program for three year olds is offered. It also has a half-day and full day ECE program for four year olds. There is one Advanced Kindergarten classroom at this school.
A strong after school tutoring program is offered to the students. They have to qualify for the Free & Reduced Lunch Program (close to 90% of the students do) and be recommended by their classroom teacher in order to participate. The program runs after school Monday-Thursday by paid teachers. There is even tutoring on Saturdays! Last year approximately eighty children participated. The students spend half their time on a computer working on literacy software called Lexia, the remaining time is spent with a teacher on specific academic needs. The tutoring is for strengthening both reading and mathematic skills. I wonder if this program has contributed to the recent rise in test scores?
Stedman has several partnerships within the community including the Mobile Health Clinic that visits once a month to provide their services to families, Walmart donates items for various events and projects throughout the year, and the community garden which is tended to by students, staff, and parents.
Impressions: Thus far, most of the school profiles we’ve completed have been written about the schools that everyone has been talking about for one reason or another. Today, I visited a school that hasn’t received much buzz with the exception of the recognition it received on the first official day of school this year. Stedman Elementary School, was recognized for its academic growth (one of the best in Colorado). Students have made tremendous, double digit gains in math, reading, and writing.
Stedman Elementary is located in the northern historic Park Hill neighborhood of Denver. It’s a beautiful old brick building. I didn’t even know it existed until recently when I drove through Park Hill looking for Satchel’s Market. It caught my eye because of the beautifully updated playground. I am always pleasantly surprised to find these old schools in Denver to be so bright and inviting once inside. This was the case at Stedman. The hallways were neat and full of light. Artwork was sporadically hung on the walls. The school has two levels so it was easy to find my way around. I joined a small tour already in progress. The other two women were interested in the Advanced Kindergarten classroom.
A family liaison escorted us around the building. I love the idea of a family liaison. He was laid-back and the tour was very informal, yet informative. A large part of his job is communicating to the Spanish speaking population at Stedman, running family events at the school, leading tours for parents, and oh yes, he’s the half time computer teacher as well. He’s worked at the school for five years and has recently seen some new, positive changes. Some of these include more teacher retention the last couple of years, an expanding student population (some students and teachers came from nearby Hallett when it closed), and a fairly new, very involved principal. Diversity is welcomed and celebrated at Stedman. The majority of the student population is comprised of African-American and Hispanic students.
Many of the classrooms I visited were cheerful and cozy. I couldn’t help but notice the class size that seemed smaller than many of the DPS schools I’ve toured. Staff seemed friendly and many invited us into their classrooms to take a closer look. The computer lab was smaller in size than others I’ve visited but complete with new Dell computers. The new computers along with several SMART boards, were paid for by the recent technology bond. I visited a few classrooms where the SMART boards were being used. They remind me of a more advanced overhead projector. The SMART boards are basically interactive whiteboards (connected to a computer and digital projector) that help engage students with various learning styles. They are interactive and engaging to children. I haven’t seen many of these and thought it was a great learning tool for the students. The library next door to the computer lab was quite small, however many brand new books filled its shelves thanks to a recent grant they received. The librarian is also the part-time gifted and talented teacher. The auditorium looked a bit dated. I don’t remember seeing any chairs in this room, just carpet, which makes me wonder now if the children sit on the floor for school assemblies. The music teacher also conducts music class in the auditorium due to space issues. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, there is no art program at this school. Because of this, they do try to provide enrichment programs in art after school.
Their character education program is taught and reinforced constantly through monthly school wide assemblies. Many of the teachers that day were wearing tee shirts with the “RAPPS” logo. School spirit was all around us and it was contagious. And speaking of teachers, not long ago a third grade teacher received a teacher of the year award for her outstanding work facilitating and running the tutoring program after school. How lucky for the students at Stedman!
This year Stedman is trying out a new school wide enrichment program on the early release days that occur every other Friday. The children meet in small groups across grade levels to learn further about a topic of interest. All teachers participate and facilitate the learning. I mean all adults participate in this program, including the janitor who runs an art class and the computer teacher, a guitar class. I loved the idea of all staff partaking in this project, not just the classroom teachers. This is what community and collaboration is all about! It sounds like a promising program where children take an active role in the learning.
The school’s achievements should be applauded but there is still work to be done. Stedman students still perform below the 50% proficiency mark in all subjects of the Colorado Student Assessment Program. However, school officials are hopeful and optimistic that change is on its way in this small school that has deep roots within the Park Hill community. I can see why people have so much hope for a school like Stedman where change is on the way!
We welcome your comments and impressions on your experience with Stedman Elementary.