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Design Team

Members of the Design Team have worked over the past two years to research, write and implement the Creativity Challenge Community school plan.

Julia Shepherd, Principal Partner

Julia Shepherd, the design team leader, was the principal of Cory Elementary School for 6 years, a highly engaged community. As principal, Julia is responsible for managing all aspects of the school administration and operations. Additionally, as part of her work at Cory, she spent two years planning for and writing a successful School Innovation Grant (SIG) and Beacon application with Merrill Middle School. This process was a community driven one managed by the Civic Canopy. Her community and school culture work began at Bromwell Elementary School as the visual arts teacher and gifted specialist. She created programs with her parent community and the business community of Cherry Creek North. She was also a member of the character education committee at Bromwell with the district’s early work in this area of school culture. As an arts coordinator for the Southeast region of schools she was engaged in the communities she served. Her previous work with community organizations as a museum educator and business owner gives the design team connections throughout the city.

The past two years, Julia has been involved in the Principal Effectiveness Design team helping with the new Educator Effectiveness Framework for the district. She has led a school that was nominated to be an EPIC school in 2009-10, has been recognized as a Distinguished school on the district frameworks for the past three years, exceeds on the state Unified Improvement Plan performance indicators, and was rated Excellent on the SAR before that. Cory was one of the highest growth schools in 2009-10 and 10-11 earning a Governor’s Award for Excellence and a John Irwin Schools of Excellence recognition.


Karen Chapman

Karen Chapman has taught at DPS for twenty years. Her work spans literacy, the arts and information literacy technology as a librarian. She was an Instructional Specialist with the district for four years servicing over seventy elementary schools in a variety of need areas in the arts. She collaborated with math and literacy specialists to assist in data team meetings and ELL support. She provided professional development including: vocabulary development through the arts to meet the needs of ELL, understanding 21st century new standards, and a book study on creativity in education. Karen was instrumental in setting up visits for teachers to learn best practices from teachers at other buildings and build a network of support. Karen developed a professional learning community of art teachers with over one hundred participants.


Patti Shade, Creativity Planning Partner

Patti Shade is a Gifted and Talented specialist with Denver Public Schools with a long career of curriculum and instruction expertise. She and her husband Rick have written two books on creative thinking: Curiosita Teaching: Inviting Creativity Into 21st Century Classrooms and Curiosita Teaching: Handbook of Instructional Strategies (In press, Pieces of Learning). Her knowledge of gifted education and experience as an elementary, middle school, and high school science and creative thinking teacher brings added dimensions to the group. As Indiana state director of GT, she has been recognized nationally for her work on differentiation and creative thinking. She has also consulted and trained internationally in creativity and differentiation. Patti is advising on the education plan to support infusing creative thinking into design of the curriculum and instructional strategies.Excerpts form Curiosita TeachingTM program and texts have been used throughout this proposal.


Lisa Hoyt, Planning Partner

Lisa Hoyt is a teacher of fourth and fifth grade students at Cory Elementary. She has participated in a pilot program last year with the Denver Art Museum helping to design the collaboration with this community partner. Her curriculum background in drama and the arts combined with an interest in inquiry science and her unique relationships with students brings strengths in curriculum and student engagement. She has been part of the Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA) for DPS the past two years. Lisa attended Confratute in the summer of 2010 and was a part of the “BIG” committee at Cory organizing Renzulli enrichment clusters. She also participated on the PBIS committee on school culture.


Maureen Poli, Planning Partner

Maureen Poli, a community member with experience at DPS schools at all levels as a parent and volunteer brings a depth of understanding as a consumer of DPS services with regular and gifted education. Her business background brings a real world perspective to the C3 design team.


Nada Ahmed, Planning Partner

Nada Ahmed has eleven years of instruction and leadership experience in high-need urban schools both in the United States and internationally. Nada brings extensive educational training, including a Ph.D. in Education Research and Policy from Kings College, University of London, an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street and an Instructional Leadership Degree from St. Johns University. Additionally, she received her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University, which focused on neurodevelopmental psychology and learning disabilities.

In her coaching, adjunct professor, teaching and community specialist roles she has focused on learning styles, equity, education reform, creative arts, professional development, data-driven instruction, multi- culturalism, environmental science programs, holistic education and education policy research. Nada has administrative leadership experience supporting Principals and Assistant Principals in assessing effective teaching and learning. She is committed to child-centered learning and excellence in teaching and learning that infuses creativity and critical thinking.