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These four Colorado schools won the inaugural Succeeds Prize for their innovation and academic achievement

A classroom at Denver's DSST Green Valley Ranch campus in 2014 (Denver Post file).
A classroom at Denver's DSST Green Valley Ranch campus in 2014 (Denver Post file).

Four Colorado schools won recognition Tuesday at the inaugural Succeeds Prize for their innovation and academic track records.

The schools – Valdez Elementary and DSST Green Valley Ranch High in Denver, Bristol Elementary in Colorado Springs, and Mountain Vista Community School in Hanover – were selected by a committee of experts from education, government and business communities.

The four schools, which all serve large populations of poor students, will split $60,000.

Two teachers, Deb Harding and Tara Hardman, both from the STEM Launch K-8 school in Thornton, were also awarded $15,000. The teachers were recognized for creating a science, technology, engineering and mathematics program for students and families.

The Succeeds Prize is a partnership between 9NEWS, Colorado Succeeds, a nonprofit that advocates for education reform on behalf of the business community, and mindSpark Learning, a nonprofit dedicated to improving teaching and learning.

“We know that only through the power of education can we build the community we all aspire to create,” Scott Laband, president of Colorado Succeeds, said in a statement. “The business community came together last night to honor education’s impact makers and innovators – the real changemakers creating a better Colorado for all of us. We look forward to the next step in this process: taking the energy and momentum from the event and translating it into actionable data for all educators.”

Additionally, five runners-up will split an additional $60,000. And each finalist school selected one educator to receive $1,000.

All finalists are also eligible for customized training from mindSpark. Organizers also hope to collect proven teaching and learning strategies from the award-winning schools to share with educators, schools and students statewide.

You can watch a video of the ceremony here.

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