Susana Cordova is being honored as a Latino Educator Champion of Change.
At Denver Public Schools, our vision is for every child to succeed. My work as our Chief Schools Officer is to ensure we’re moving closer to achieving that vision every day in our schools. For me, education is deeply personal work. I am a graduate of Denver Public Schools. I began my career here as a teacher. Over the years, I have worked in multiple capacities in our public schools to support student learning and growth.
I come to work every day because I care deeply about each of our students, and I believe that every one of them has tremendous potential. I believe every student can succeed, and I am committed to providing every student with the supports and resources each needs to unlock his or her potential. Transforming that commitment into action – both for myself and for our thousands of educators – is where the challenge as a leader arises.
There are many issues that are outside of our control in education. My work as the leader for all of our public schools is to ensure we remain focused on the areas we can impact and that we pursue the high-impact strategies that lead to results for our kids.
I’m most proud of the work I’ve done to lead our students who are learning English as a second language.
There are more than 120 languages spoken in Denver Public Schools, with the majority of students primarily speaking Spanish in their homes. It’s important for our students who speak a language other than English to have a clear path toward English language acquisition once they enter our schools. We provide English language educating while also recognizing that a student’s native language is an important bridge to their culture and heritage. We don’t want students to lose that connection.
We have a variety of structures in place to help our students learning English. Every summer, we hold an intensive English Language Acquisition academy for students in elementary and middle school to help them build their language skills. During the school year, we have teachers who are trained in teaching English as a second language working with our students in nearly every school. And we’re constantly working with schools to monitor our progress and make adjustments throughout the course of the year.
This targeted approach has led to strong gains: Since 2010, we’ve increased a 15 percentage point increase in the state assessment for English proficiency among our students learning English as a second language.
Our approach allows us to have a significant impact on our students learning English as a second language. While there is still much work to do in this area, we are on our way to reaching that vision of success for every child. My role is to keep us focused and on-track to achieving our goal, and I look forward to working with our educators to get us there.
Susana Cordova is Chief Schools Officer of Denver Public Schools.