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Salida School District’s Longfellow Elementary is one of 18 Colorado schools in the final competition to split a $150,000 cash prize. The school’s efforts to re-imagine education and deliver programs that prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workplace is why it is being considered for the award. The winners of the competition, known as The Colorado Succeeds Prize, will be announced Sept. 19 at a free event in downtown Denver.

“While we don’t know what jobs our kids will have in the future, we do know they will need ingenuity, collaboration and emotional intelligence to succeed,” said Colorado Succeeds President Scott Laband. “By highlighting schools getting it right, Colorado Succeeds hopes to provide a roadmap for other schools and districts, effectively ending Colorado’s skills gap.”

Longfellow Elementary is one of three finalists in the category of Finalists for Transformational Impact in an Elementary School” Award, sponsored by TTEC (formerly TeleTech Holdings) a business process outsourcing company headquartered in Englewood. The two other finalists include Aurora Quest K-8, Aurora Public Schools, and Manassa Elementary School, North Conejos School District

While each finalist has a unique story, competition officials say that each is an example of what Colorado schools are getting right, as they work to close the skills gap and training students for the future of work. Competition officials say that every finalist is aligned with Colorado Succeeds’ Vision 2030.  It’s a model that outlines seven educational principles, six educational experiences and five transferable competencies students will need to succeed in the workforce of the future.

Learning through play doesn’t stop in preschool, say experts. One example: Colorado elementary, middle and high schools are incorporating robotics, STEM labs and maker spaces into learning. This allows kids to learn to make things, break them and tinker around. It also means future workers are less likely to allow failure to hold them back, and more likely to propose big ideas – even if they might fail – and know how to improve them or drop them faster than ever before.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, the world will be a very different place by 2030, 2040 and beyond. Experts predict that 85 percent of the jobs available in 2030 have not yet been invented.

Finalists for Transformational Impact in an Elementary School Award, sponsored by TTEC: 

  • Aurora Quest K-8, Aurora Public Schools
  • Longfellow Elementary School, Salida School District
  • Manassa Elementary School, North Conejos School District

Finalists for Transformational Impact in a Middle School Award, sponsored by DaVita: 

  • Academy of Advanced Learning, Aurora Public Schools
  • Altona Middle School, St. Vrain Valley School District
  • McAuliffe International School, Denver Public Schools

Finalists for Transformational Impact in a High School Award, sponsored by Slalom: 

  • Grandview High School, Cherry Creek School District
  • La Veta High School, La Veta School District
  • Loveland Classical School, Thompson School District

Finalists for Excellence in Education Innovation, sponsored by Janus Henderson Investors:

  • Legend High School, Douglas County Public Schools: EDGE Program
  • Pueblo 70 and Parkview Medical Center: School to Employment (STEP) Program
  • Roaring Fork School District: Senior Capstones Program

Finalists for Excellence in STEM Education, sponsored by Ball Corporation: 

  • Cañon City High School, Fremont RE-1: School Pathways Program and SystemsGo
  • STRIVE Prep – Excel High School, Denver Public Schools: HackSchool
  • Warren Tech, JeffCo Public Schools: Computer Science and Cybersecurity Programs

Finalists for Excellence in Technology Enabled Learning, sponsored by Arrow Electronics:

  • Aurora Public Schools: Digital Badging Program
  • Poudre School District: NoCo Inspire
  • St. Vrain Valley School District: Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools