“I have a crazy idea”: Those five words changed a simple meeting of school officials into the realization of Kim Ursetta’s dream.
Ursetta, then president of a local teachers’ union, blurted out those words 18 months ago during a meeting in the office of Denver, Colorado’s, schools superintendent…
“I want to start a new kind of school,” she said, a union-sponsored public school led by teachers, not a principal.
“I started talking about 21st century skills and wanting to prepare our kids in math and science, especially our low-income and ethnic minority students,” Ursetta said. “We’ve been doing schools the same way in this nation for 150 years, so if we don’t step up, then nothing is going to change.”
Superintendent Michael Bennet — now the state’s freshman U.S. senator — did not say no to the idea, and Ursetta walked out the door “excited” and “shocked.”
She immediately started “pulling together a group of teachers to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and ask how you would do a school differently.”
Three weeks ago, Ursetta’s dream became a reality, as Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy opened its doors to 142 kindergartners and first- and second-grade students in Denver’s mostly low-income, largely Hispanic Athmar Park neighborhood.
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