Mission and Vision
Learning and Instruction
Climate and Culture
Family & Community Engagement
Carson Elementary School in Denver Public School District has been designated an Exemplary High Performing Schools National Blue Ribbon School for 2021 by U. S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona! Our school is one of 325 schools in the nation and one of 6 schools from Colorado to be recognized in 2021. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Award arms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. The National Blue Ribbon Schools’ banner gracing a school’s building is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.
Carson opened its doors in 1952. The school was named after Mary G. Carson who served in the Denver Public School system for forty-five years as a teacher and principal. Her first teaching assignment in 1897 was in the old Webster school, now replaced by Bryant-Webster.
As Carson Cougars, we aim to embody the Denver Public School’s vision of creating joyful, rigorous, and personalized classrooms. Carson Elementary is nestled in the Hilltop neighborhood, just southeast of downtown Denver, CO. Hilltop has recently gained appeal with families because it is a safe community in close proximity to downtown, and for Carson Elementary, a respected, rigorous neighborhood school at its heart. Carson is proudly defined by our broader community, who collaboratively strives to support the social-emotional wellbeing, academic growth, and excellence of our students. The community is highly involved, social, and engaged in building an ongoing support network for all families, and remains dedicated to helping their neighborhood school thrive through an active Collaborative School Committee (CSC) and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Strong partnerships with students and families are perceived as crucial for student success. To note, Carson is honored to have received multiple awards in November of 2019, including The John Irwin Award from the Colorado Department of Education, the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award, as well as a letter of recognition from Senator Michael Bennet.
Carson Elementary is a community of diverse learners and families. We are the home of one of Denver Public School’s Center-Based Programs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) that supports students from all over Denver. Over the past year, Carson leadership made the decision to pivot away from operating as a Gifted and High Gifted and Talented (GT/HGT) magnet school in favor of making GT content more accessible to all students in the spirit of equity and inclusion. The decision not only addresses specific learning needs for GT/HGT students in general education classrooms, but inserts academic rigor and opportunity for growth for all students. This highlights the Carson philosophy that all students are general education students first, no matter the level of support they require to feel successful. This inclusive perspective normalizes differences for students and families alike.
Educators at Carson are professional and bring diverse experience into the classroom and through special services. They are held to high levels of accountability by the community, and expected to use a culturally responsive lens to deliver the latest research-based practices that support both social-emotional and academic growth. Lesson planning is responsive and based on student data and reflective practices. As a result, educators feel respected, valued, and empowered to lead their classrooms in an authentic style using their expertise. Since turnover is low, staff members have the opportunity to form lasting, supportive relationships with students, families, and coworkers. Staff members are encouraged to maintain a work/life balance, whether personally or through school-lead efforts. We are collaborative and use the strengths of team members to problem solve together, especially during these unprecedented times. Due to measures taken to foster the well-being of students and staff, Carson feels safe, small, and like a school family.
At Carson, we place emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that is elevated to the importance of providing academic rigor. It is our belief that if students are not ready to engage in learning, then minimal learning will occur despite engaging content. Our robust character education program is designed to teach students critical traits that guide them to make inclusive, empathetic, and reflective choices that support the diverse needs of their peers and positively impact the school community and beyond. Students can expect to hear consistent language referring to the character education trait of the month, and also from the curriculum, The Zones of Regulation, a framework that is designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control. Designated SEL time is scheduled throughout each day, and interwoven into instruction as needed. Classroom environments are arranged so that students have the tools and space to self-regulate. Positive reinforcement is provided through Cougar Bucks and Character Links for students exemplifying character traits. Some virtual teachers even created Bitmoji classrooms to mimic physical classrooms and house SEL resources to assist with emotional control in any environment. Last, we participate in the DPS Parent/Teacher Home Visit Program in an effort to strengthen student and family partnerships.
Students are encouraged and challenged to meet their full potential at Carson through multiple avenues to not only feel successful in school, but also in life. Primarily, this potential is met through four key components. First, as previously mentioned, we place emphasis on SEL. Second, students are given access to rigorous and engaging content through “Dynamic Differentiation”, which entails utilizing multiple strategies to differentiate instruction, including shifting instruction from whole-group to small-group instructional settings, and modifying curriculum by enhancing and compacting to ensure that student understanding and achievement guide next steps. Third, we deliver Data Driven Instruction (DDI) using consistent, on-going assessments to create focused, differentiated, and flexible groupings. Finally, we introduce next grade-level standards once grade-level mastery is achieved to increase rigor and engagement.