While COVID-19 kept students remote for a while, it kept visitors to schools out much longer, including education officials. With restrictions loosening, district and state education officials are starting to return to school visits themselves. This month, Colorado State Board of Education member Dr. Lisa Escárcega, who represents Denver, visited Swansea Elementary along with Denver Public Schools Board of Education District 3 member Dr. Carrie Olson and District 5 member Rev. Brad Laurvick, who represents the G.E.S. community.
For Escárcega, it was a chance to have more informal interactions with school leaders. Often a State Board of Education member only talks with individual schools if they are coming before the board, possibly because there is a problem, which limits the sort of interaction they can have.
“I was impressed by the commitment of the school to its students and community as well as the community being committed to the school. Those relationships are what set up a school for success,” Escárcega told The G.E.S. Gazette afterward.
Swansea Elementary is looking at a number of changes. It’s both a familiar presence in the community and innovative in its programming. With the I-70 expansion literally out their window, they will be losing one activity field but will gain a new one above the underground section of the interstate when it’s done. A dual language school, they are piloting some programs that will be standard in other schools next year. While some of the academic programs are new, the school has a long history. Principal Vanessa Trussell said she knows families who have had three generations come through the halls. Some of the staff has been at the school for two decades. Trusell is in her third year as principal herself, serving as the assistant prior. Assistant Principal Marc Rodriguez, serving his first year in the role, said he “quickly realized how deeply people are connected [to the school].”
Olson, who worked as a teacher before joining the board, has a former student now teaching at Swansea herself. Olson commented more than once how she misses being in the classroom (board members are not allowed to work for the district, though she occasionally gets to lecture). For Laurvick, it was a second recent visit, having stopped in with DPS’ new superintendent Alex Marrero when showing him around the neighborhood.
Note: Readers have asked for more education coverage and we hope to bring you updates on schools in and serving the G.E.S. community, including Swansea, in future editions of the Gazette.