Stakeholders Meet to Envision Future of Manual High School

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Three-day Common Grounds workshop brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to establish common ground foundation and define action plan for next 120 days

Fifty stakeholders of Manual High School participated in an intensive three-day Common Grounds workshop, October 23-25, designed to craft a common vision for the high school and lay out a plan for achieving high-priority goals. Students, parents, faculty and administrative members, alumni, and community representatives came together to share perspectives, to collaborate on goals for the future, and to form action teams which will be responsible and accountable for developing and implementing tangible initiatives.

The Common Grounds workshop is based on proven processes used to bring together diverse groups to strengthen communications and relationships. Rather than focusing on differences, the workshop helps attendees find common ground and envision a shared, achievable future.

“This process helped all participants acknowledge the rich tradition of Manual, to realistically assess where we are today, and to inspire us to envision a new future,” said Nick Dawkins, principal of Manual High School. “The process is critically important in accelerating change in a way that reflects the support of our community and leverages their important contributions.”

“Common Grounds was so fun!” said Leah Rice, a Manual freshman who participated in the workshop. “It was interesting hearing what people have to say about the past and future of Manual. I liked how I actually got to talk in a room full of adults. Common Grounds will help Manual get better because the people at the event actually cared about Manual and us students.”

Six action teams, tasked with developing and implementing documented objectives, were formed prior to the workshop’s conclusion. Team activity and progress will be tracked throughout the next four months by Colleen O’Brien, assistant principal of Manual High School. She will also facilitate communications among the teams and the community. The teams, which kicked off their work on November 3, will focus on the following goals:

Academic Programs: This team will work on defining the skills MHS graduates need to be successful in post-secondary endeavors and will create culturally responsive supports to provide students access to necessary academic, financial, and career knowledge.

Whole Child: Team members will work to help create a supportive, engaging, and safe environment for MHS students that challenges each student and offers opportunities to experience success.

Community Engagement: This team will focus on developing a strong, culturally responsive network of parents, volunteers, donors and community partners aligned to the vision and mission of MHS.

Enrollment and Recruitment: This team will support MHS’s enrollment goals for 2016 by delivering the message that Manual is a “no gap” school that boldly sets the standard for integration and equity in recruitment policies.

Student Voice: Team members will support the creation of a student culture that empowers all students to have a part in school and civic decision making by being critical thinkers, advocating for their own education, and realizing their own potential as school, community and global change makers.

Pride and Storytelling: This team will work to promote Manual's positive narrative and to cultivate a strong sense of school and community pride.

Anyone interested in contributing to an action team should contact Colleen O’Brien at colleen_o’brien(at)dpsk12(dot)org. The public is also invited to attend upcoming Manual High School open house, scheduled for December 8, from 6 to 7 p.m..

About Manual High School

Located in the heart of Denver’s Whittier neighborhood, Manual High School’s highly trained teachers are committed to challenging, nurturing, and supporting all students. The school’s achievement-focused culture cultivates goal setting, resiliency, and critical thinking.

Manual High School was one of the first schools in Denver to educate women and African Americans. Noteworthy graduates include Mayor Michael Hancock, Mayor Wellington Webb, and activist and poet Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales.

Today, Manual is at the forefront of career and technical education with the launch of MedConnect, one of the district’s first biomedical pathways for high school students. As one of the first schools in the district to be granted Innovation Status, Manual’s classrooms are equipped with modern tools and technology. Just as importantly, each Manual student has the use of a dedicated tablet during the school day to ensure the development of the technology skills needed for today’s workplace.

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Linda Galloway
insidHR Communications
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