I graduated from Aurora Central High School in 1989.
At that time, the school’s student body was a diverse mix of incomes – affluent families from south of 6th Avenue, low-income families folks along Colfax and by the Stapleton Airport runway, and everyone in between. While my family shopped for clothes at the old DAV Thrift Store on Montview, I had classmates that bought new clothes at Aurora Mall. Even as a young person, it became clear to me that there were often lines drawn between different sets of classmates – lines that determined what kind of house you lived in, and what kinds of clothes you wore, and the opportunities that you had available to you. How was it that we were so different?
Many of their parents had something that mine did not – a college education.
With the support and guidance of one amazing high school counselor, Ms. Linda Feinberg, I was accepted into the Pre-Collegiate Development Program at the University of Colorado for low-income and first-generation college students. It changed my life’s trajectory forever. I came to understand that education was the key to success, and with financial aid and scholarships, I was able to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university – the only person in my family to do so.
College opened doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined – I became an educator, first as a student instructor at Denver West High School and then as a teacher at Escuela Tlatelolco.
I was the executive director of a nonprofit organization at Denver North High School that helped prepare students to enroll and succeed in college. In 2000, I started working at the Daniels Fund, where I was a founding member of the Daniels Scholarship Program. Eventually, we supported thousands of students at colleges in nearly every state across the nation. For the past eight years, I have managed a multi-million dollar grantmaking budget for aging and disabilities organizations in the Denver-metro area and for cradle-to-career educational efforts in the entire state of New Mexico. I am a steering committee member for Aurora’s Gang Reduction Impact Program (A-GRIP), and a founding board member of a new K-8 public school that will provide a high-quality, college prep education for some of our most underserved students and their families.
I still live within walking distance of my old high school, now with my wife, our five-year-old daughter, and our dog, Maisie.
I am a product of Aurora Public Schools, and I have seen the district grow, change, and sometimes struggle. Aurora Central, my high school, is struggling. Academic proficiency and growth are near the bottom of all high schools in the state. I am committed to working with the community together to grow opportunities for every single child in this district. Aurora schools need our support – I am proud of our community, which is one of the most diverse in the state, and I know that we together, we can get the job done for kids. I have the experience, the commitment, and most importantly the care for our community to drive our school district to be one that can provide a great education for all of our kids. Will you join me?