7 Colorado Middle Schools – Nationally Recognized for High Performance


Steve Wolf (Powell MS) Julie Williams & Cindy Shane (Russell MS) at the honorary Gala Dinner.

Seven amazing Colorado Middle Schools were recognized with 93 other amazing middle schools from across the nation at the National School to Watch Conference in Washington, DC.

To earn the distinction of being a National (and State) School to Watch, a school must demonstrate three years of an academic success trajectory that includes performance on state assessments and high correlation to a set of standards created by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. These Colorado schools achieved that standard and presented their replicable practices and programs before their peers and colleagues across the nation during two-day days of sessions including a site visit with their US Congressional Representative on Capitol Hill.

100 high performing middle schools across the nation were awarded at the National Schools to Watch Conference.

In the early 2000’s a number of educational associations and educational policy/research organizations fretted over the abundance of bad press and lack of focus on powerful learning priorities targeting young adolescents.  They became empowered, they banded together, they became the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform and set upon an effort to identify and cast a light upon amazing middle schools – those that could be a beacon to others looking to replicate success, high achievement, developmentally responsive learning, social equitable environments and strong supportive structures to carry the weight of work that their passionate staff embraces on a daily basis. Each year, state Schools to Watch are designated nationally at the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform Annual Conference in Washington, DC. This year 100 schools from across the nation were awarded.


Steve Smith & Deb Lehr (Gypsum Creek MS) and Jason Ter Horst & Rich Law (Jenkins MS) share ideas and best practices from their high performing schools

As state director, I was deeply honored to sit among our middle level friends and colleagues across the nation. Speechless really, as I thought of the countless hours and restless nights accumulated by the dedicated staff members who devote their lives to children in the hopes that their efforts make a difference, open the door of opportunities, give heart to the  hopeless, feed bodies and spirits, share love to the unloved, and the provide key to prosperity to each and every child.

Thank you National Schools to Watch, for your devotion to humanity, for your drive and sense of urgency, and for your love of the children that you give a piece of yourself to each and every day.

Thank you – we love you all,

Diane Lauer, State Coordinator and Board Member of the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education

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