We've had several kids attend Thomas Jefferson over the last 10 years and there has definitely been a swing from bad to good...almost great over the last few years. One thing that has never been missed is the dedication that teachers show toward their kids. My kids have even maintained a relationship with many of the teachers after graduating from college. Of the Denver Public Schools, TJ is by far the best in my opinion.
There are so many teachers that truly make an impact that I know there aren't enough characters to list them all. D. Showers, Ms. Colbath, S. Myers, and J. Poole are a few that come to mind that really go above and beyond. The Communication Technology group as a whole are awesome! And counselors like E. Thompson really make the experience even better as she stays involved.
The TJ teachers that I've dealt with seem to never let their kids give up. I know several teachers that stay after school and help kids that aren't even in their class or with subjects that they don't teach, to help kids (that want it) succeed.
There is a constant feel of family at TJ. I've heard other students that have transferred in, say that that's the reason the came to TJ...to feel like they are really apart of something. Without compassion, caring and empathy - there can't be family.
I just recently saw something I was surprised by when watching a TJ volleyball game and the line judge made a bad call in favor of TJ. The head coach from TJ knew the call was wrong and told the referee. He overturned the call which cost TJ a point but all his girls saw this - it demonstrated what each of these girls should do not only at school but in life. This is just one, simple example of what happens all the time.
TJ invests incredible time and energy in making students successful at all levels and abilities. I've seen this more so this year, and appreciate the systems they have put into place to carry this forward.
There is a student-led effort called #TJkindness. That in itself speaks volumes. Students are required to do a minimum of 10 hours of community service per year prior to graduation. TJ is linking students to phenomenal opportunities in the community to exercise their compassion and empathy.
The culture shift that has been taking place at TJ is firmly grounded in these principles of honesty, integrity and fairness. This is a school known for its sense of family and community. It can be seen by the lengths taken by teachers and staff to reward hard work, to work with students and support them toward successful outcomes. I've been impressed by this very much in our time at TJ.
This is a great school tucked away in a cluster of great neighborhoods in a great part of Denver.
While no school is perfect, this school is one that is committed to being better and evolving in every way. In the past three years, TJ has grown by leaps and bounds as administrators, teachers and parents have come together to restore the prestige the school has had in the community since 1960. This is evidenced, for example, by the highest growth in AP test scores in the district, some of the highest testing Geometry students in the area, and some of the highest AP Biology scores in the country. Many of TJ's teachers are also alumni themselves, contributing to its strong sense of family. More than 61% of neighborhood kids chose TJ over all the other options available to them this year.
In addition to a commitment to being a well-rounded, classic high school experience, TJ also has the award-winning Center for Communication and Technology (CCT) with its journalism/design/production or electronics/robotics/programming tracks. It's also strongly committed to career and college readiness. Students can earn college credits through the CCT program, AP classes, CLEP tests and more.
This is a school that is all about participation. As a just-right sized school, students are known by name, supported and held accountable for their success. They are encouraged to self advocate, to stretch and challenge themselves. TJ is a school that is both large enough and small enough. Large enough to enjoy a variety of great electives, competitive sports/programs, and the diversity that contributes to being successful wherever in the world they may go. It's small enough to get to participate in the teams and activities they love.
My student is a sophomore and loves the challenge of her honors and AP classes (well, at least a majority of the time!). She plays competitive volleyball and has really enjoyed their incredible new coach. The friends she's made at TJ are solid, great to be around.
And as a parent, I know I am making a difference in my neighborhood, helping other parents, neighbors and TJ's staff to ensure this school is a top high school in Denver for decades to come.