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In second try, Denver names two finalists to lead Manual High

Denver's Manual High School.
Denver's Manual High School.
Melanie Asmar/Chalkbeat

Two assistant principals who work in the Denver school district are vying to lead Manual High School, a storied school in the northeast part of the city that has struggled academically. This is the district’s second attempt this year to hire a new principal for Manual after its top prospect in the last round turned down the job.

The finalists are Douglas Clinkscales, who has worked at Manual since 2007 and is the school’s assistant principal and athletic director, and Joe Glover, an assistant principal at nearby East High School since 2015. (Read their resumes below.)

Manual is about one-eighth the size of East, a racially diverse and mostly middle-class school that has more than 2,600 students. Manual has 300 students. Nearly all the students who attend Manual are black and Latino, and 90 percent qualified for free or reduced-price lunches last year.

Manual has had two different interim principals since its last permanent principal, Nick Dawkins, abruptly resigned in March. The district has said that the current interim principal, Lynn Heintzman, will stay one more month until the end of the semester.

Though its enrollment is small, Manual’s importance in Denver Public Schools is big. It is often held up as one of the most traumatic examples of the district’s strategy of closing low-performing schools and reopening them with a new program in hopes of better outcomes.

Manual has seen some successes since it was closed in 2006 and reopened the following year, but its students have continued to struggle on state literacy and math tests. It has earned five consecutive low ratings from the state and could face intervention from the State Board of Education next year if its rating does not improve. The ratings are based largely on test scores.

Manual has also gone through lots of leadership turnover in the past decade and a host of different philosophies and academic approaches. Its current approach seems to have positive momentum. It includes more opportunities for students to take college-level courses and earn college credit while in high school, as well as a unique career education program called the Med School at Manual geared toward students interested in careers in health care.

Read the principal candidates’ resumes below.

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