Board of Education Update – October 18, 2018 Regular Board Meeting

Superintendent Boasberg Honored at His Final Board Meeting 

At its meeting tonight, the Board of Education honored Superintendent Tom Boasberg, whose last day with the district is tomorrow after 10 years of service. The board read a proclamation honoring Boasberg and showed a celebratory video about the progress made during his tenure.

Former board members, school leaders, students and family members spoke with gratitude for Boasberg’s leadership and commitment to DPS students.

Former Board Member Andrea Merida called Boasberg a friend and praised his commitment to putting students first. Several members of the office of Family and Community Engagement thanked Boasberg for his service to families and authentic community engagement.

Boasberg was praised for coining the district philosophy “Don’t wait; lead” and for embracing innovation:

“Not once did you ever ask whether we could actually do something. Not once did you ever question or hesitate to be innovative. We always had your support and encouragement. I attribute our successes to your leadership and willingness to let us think outside the box,” said Cesar Cedillo, former principal at Bruce Randolph School.

“I never thought I would create a new school but with your encouragement, we did it. It was exciting to write a vision and mission for Creativity Challenge Community — which you helped rename as C3,” said Julia Shepherd, C3 founder. “Tom, I thank you for your leadership and innovation, captured in the Innovation Act of 2008 which you helped write, and that helped spur C3 and our innovation status.”

Boasberg was thanked for his commitment to and value of English language learners, students of color and immigrants, and his support of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus) educators and students.

“Thank you for elevating equity as our district’s North star,” said Instructional Superintendent Jesus Rodriguez, former principal at Trevista Elementary School at Horace Mann.

Board Member Jennifer Bacon also thanked Boasberg for embracing equity, and for intentionally facing and working to correct institutional racism in public schools.

He was also lauded for his leadership on discipline reforms: “In a time when many were opposed to it, Tom remained steadfast in his support of therapeutic and restorative practices instead of suspensions,” said Eldridge Greer, associate chief of Student Equity and Opportunity. “We know now that using restorative practices makes students 60% less likely to repeat that same behavior as compared to if they received an out-of-school suspension.”

And for his support of early learning: “Thank you for being a champion for the youngest learners in our city. You have recognized the vital importance of children’s most early learning opportunities and for expanding children’s access to them,” said Jane Walsh, director of community partnerships with the Early Education Department. Board Member Barbara O’Brien echoed Walsh’s comments.

“Thank you for showing me kindness; I really appreciated the solidarity and support,” said Board Member Angela Cobian. Board Member Carrie Olson said she appreciated that, throughout the district, Boasberg always remembered people’s names and something about them.

“I want to thank you for your unwavering dedication to all of Denver’s kids,” said Board Member Happy Haynes. “And thank you for your leadership and friendship. You taught me so much personally and as a leader. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from you is about the importance of investing in people. You also always erred in favor of taking action and were willing to be vulnerable. These are the characteristics of a strong leader.”

“You do this thing: you hold your hand up. It’s the high five. It’s a signal that we are a team, that we play to each other’s strengths and help each other grow,” said Board Member Lisa Flores. She said Boasberg has not just been a coach but also a cheerleader, and someone who brings people together as a team. “At the end of the day, we all play for Team DPS.”

“I believe deeply in values-based leadership and culture, and what you have been able to do in this district to create this district’s culture is because of your values-based leadership,” said Board President Anne Rowe. “I deeply appreciate your deep belief in all of us.”

Many also thanked Boasberg’s wife and children, who were in the audience with him tonight, for sacrificing their own time with their husband and father and sharing him with the district over the past decade.

The evening included a special message via video from Sen. Michael Bennet, who preceded Boasberg as superintendent. “It has been a privilege to hear about the work that is being done. By every measure, we have made enormous progress since Tom started as superintendent — and he’d be the first to say that we have a long way to go — but we have become a district that the rest of the country looks to,” Bennet said. “People come to Denver to learn and that wasn’t true 10 years ago, and Tom Boasberg has been one of the fundamental reasons why.”

The evening closed with Boasberg’s own remarks: “I have a profound and deep respect for all of the amazing people I have worked with,” said Boasberg, adding his appreciation for his family’s support throughout his tenure here. He thanked the board for its leadership, and the Denver community for its support. “It is a privilege to wake up every day to do work that matters. It is such a joy to work with and serve the students we do in Denver Public Schools. It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime.”