Briefs: Adams State helps its base

Officials of Adams State University Wednesday unveiled a plan to fully cover tuition and fees for qualified low-income students from the San Luis Valley region, one of the state’s poorest areas.

EdNews Briefs logoStarting next year, qualifying students will receive sufficient financial aid to cover tuition and fees plus $1,350 a year for other educational expenses. Students can continue to receive the aid in subsequent years if they maintain satisfactory grade-point averages and meet certain course-completion requirements.

The university estimates that about 300 students, some 15 percent of the student body, will be eligible for the program. The scholarship covers graduates of 22 high schools in the region. Adams State is in Alamosa, the valley’s largest town.

Adams State’s student body is 47.5 percent minority, with Hispanic students making up 32 percent. The university is officially designated by the federal government as a Hispanic Serving Institition. Colorado has one of the nation’s largest college attendance and completion gaps between white and minority students. Closing that gap is a key policy objective for both state and institutional policymakers.

Weigh in on state’s future

TBD Colorado, the non-profit group that has been taking the public’s temperature on key issues affecting the state’s future, is reaching out again, this time seeking out online opinions from Colorado citizens.

The group is asking citizens to weigh in on highway improvements, support for transit, universal full-day kindergarten and education funding.

You can log in and join the electronic conversation at (You need to register to participate.)

Learn more about the project on the TBD website and read about the first phase of the group’s work in this EdNews story.

Lawmakers keep cards close to vests

The advocacy group Great Education Colorado, along with a coalition of other organizations, has been lobbying state lawmakers to commit to taking significant action on school funding this session.

Volunteers from the Year of the Student effort fanned out throughout the Capitol a few weeks ago to give legislators questionnaires on the issue. So far only 17 lawmakers, all Democrats, have responded. You can read their responses here.

New Legacy Foundation trustees named

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has announced four new board members, including Tom Gart of The Gart Companies, Ryan O’Shaughnessy of Wapiti Energy, Katherine Peck of the Gill Foundation and Leroy Williams of the Ball Corp. (Get more information in this news release.)

The foundation raises funds for and administers some education programs, primarily in coordination with the Department of Education.

Comcast program offers low-cost internet

Comcast this week announced enhancements to its Internet Essentials program, a two-year-old program that offers low-cost broadband service ($10/month), computers ($150) and training to low-income students and their families.

Colorado is one of the top 10 markets for Internet Essentials with more than 8,300 participants, or more than 6,100 families in the Denver metro area. However, 243,013 Colorado children qualify.

The changes mean that more households are eligible as the program now reaches home school and private school students.

Eligible families must have at least one child who qualifies for free and reduced price lunch.

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit for English, and visit for Spanish. Educators or third parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855- 765-6995.

Verizon Foundation seeks school partners

The Verizon Foundation is seeking teams of teachers in 12 public schools for a multiyear program designed to enhance student achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM subjects – by leveraging mobile technologies.

Under the program, each school designated as a Verizon Innovative Learning School will receive a grant of up to $50,000 to support a technology coach and teachers as they participate in a two-year professional development program focused on increasing teacher and student proficiency with mobile technology and boosting student engagement and achievement in STEM.  The Verizon Foundation is working with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which will provide coaches and teachers with customized onsite and online training specific to the needs and goals of each school.

The deadline for applying for the program is Monday. To learn about requirements and apply, visit

Breakfast Games winners announced

George Washington High School in Denver, Northridge High School in Weld County District 6 and Pueblo County High School in Pueblo County District 70 all won “gold” awards and $4,000 in the annual “Breakfast Games,” a contest sponsored by the Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign. The contest, which named two winners in each of three categories plus one additional “special mention” winner, aims to increase participation in school breakfast programs across the state.

The three gold award winners were among 24 high schools across Colorado that participated in the contest, which ran from September 2012 to January 2013. Silver award schools, which each received $2,000, include Centennial High School in Pueblo City School District, Central High School in the Mesa Valley district and Wheat Ridge High School of Jeffco Public Schools. Wasson High School in Colorado Springs District 11 won $1,000 and a special mention for achieving the highest percentage-point increase in school breakfast participation.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”