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Thursday Churn: Principal honor

Updated – Lakewood High School Principal Ron Castagna is Colorado’s 2012 High School Principal of the Year, the Colorado Association of School Executives announced today.

“He is a dedicated educator who is committed to assuring that public education is the best that it can be,” said his boss, Jeffco Community Superintendent Peg Kastberg.

Castagna has been principal of the 2,000-student school, home to an International Baccalaureate program, for 15 years. He implemented the motto “We are family” to reflect an inclusive school culture that values and embraces every type of student, according to Jeffco spokeswoman Melissa Reeves.

“An award like this isn’t just about me,” Castagna said. “It’s about the hard work of everyone who works so tirelessly in our building, from teachers to secretaries to assistant principals.”

Castagna is now eligible for National High School Principal of the Year honors, which will be announced later this year. Learn more about Lakewood High School.

What’s churning:

Most of the early childhood discussion this year has focused on House Bill 12-1238, the proposal to improve student literacy in the early grades. More details on that discussion here.

Less attention has been paid to the Colorado Preschool Program, which serves some 20,000 at-risk children, mostly through state-funded programs in schools.

The program has released its annual report to the legislature, and the document details how children in the program perform better on various academic measurements than do at-risk children who don’t participate in the program. At-risk is defined in several ways, including eligibility for federal meal assistance, but the same definition is used for students in the Colorado Preschool Program and the comparison group.

Program enrollment has been capped for several years because of the tight state budget. Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton, has made a one-woman crusade of finding more money so more kids can enroll, but she’s hasn’t made any headway this year.

A workshop to help Denver families understand the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid process, along with the Denver Scholarship Foundation application, will be held at 10 a.m. today at Emily Griffith High School, 1250 Welton St.

April 1 is the deadline for the Denver Scholarship Foundation scholarships. Since its launch in 2007, the foundation has awarded more than $13.3 million in scholarships to 2,638 DPS graduates and it plans to award another $5 million to graduates next year. As of fall 2011, 80 percent of all foundation scholars are either still enrolled in college or have completed their program. About 78 percent of the scholars will be among the first generation in their family to graduate from college. The need-based foundation scholarships are available to qualifying students who have attended a DPS high school for four years.

What’s on tap:

The governor’s Education Leadership Council meets starting at 1 p.m. at the Colorado Education Association, 1600 Grant St. Agenda

The Denver school board’s regular meeting and public comment session starts at 5 p.m., 900 Grant St. Agenda items include a vote on the Grant Middle School innovation plan.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Poll on teacher rankings: Most New Yorkers don’t trust the teacher ratings released last month but they still support their release, according to this report by GothamSchools.org. Meanwhile, some teachers who received the highest rankings are campaigning against them.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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