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A Final Look Inside Classroom 132 Captures Students’ Thoughts on a Strange Year

students of room 132 at hodgkins

Colorado Public Radio concluded its behind the scenes look at Hodgkins Leadership Academy room 132 with a touching, sometimes funny conversation with students in Renae Sutton’s third-grade classroom.  

Part 4 of the series aired last week with the online version sharing portraits of students and answers to questions about everything from what they liked most about schools to plans for the summer. There was one common answer from all of the students; their appreciation for their teacher. Amya spoke for many of her classmates saying, “I’ll miss how fun she made learning, and (I’ll miss) my friends. They’re like family to me.”

Last summer, CPR reporter Jenny Brundin approached Westminster Public Schools about doing a series of reports in which she would make multiple visits to a classroom and really get to know the students and staff and report on how they were handling the pandemic.  Principal Amber Swieckowski and teacher Renae Sutton agreed to the proposal.

The first parts of the series that aired last year received first place in the 2020 Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies contest. The judges wrote, "This series brings us into the classroom and shows what it's like to teach and learn during the pandemic. I feel like we get to know the teacher and students and care about them. This entry stood out in a field of very strong entries. "

In an email, to some members of the WPS staff, Brundin added, “Not every district, school, a teacher, in particular, would be so open and it speaks volumes about the skill level and confidence and leadership of Amber and Renea. Renea and the kids were truly inspiring and made the series!”