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Education Department Visits Flynn to See Covid Dollars at Work

Cindy Marten, Deputy Secretary of Education, visited John E Flynn a Marzano Academy to learn first-hand how money from the American Recovery Plan was being used to help students deal with mental health issues and social/emotional learning. Katy Anthes, Colorado Department of Education Commissioner join her on the fact-finding trip.

Flynn was chosen because it was the first school in the country to a fully certified High Reliability School. A High Reliability School is a designation available to schools that master five levels of performance where all students learn the content and skills they need for success in college, careers and beyond.

The first level toward certification is the creation of a safe, supportive and collaborative culture which goes to the heart of a system that supports mental health awareness and a commitment to social/emotional learning.

As part of the visit, Marten met with five students who spoke about the challenges of learning during a pandemic and the need for more support. A portion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) dollars have been designated for student help.

The students said a positive environment is critical for effective learning. One student added, “I now think much more about how others might feel when things happen. I’m more aware of that than I used to be.”  Marten told the students it was “incredibly powerful” to hear from them and told them President Joe Biden would be proud of them. She said she would love to take them back to Washington D.C to share their stories.

Westminster Public Schools used ESSER dollars to purchase the Panorama learning system to support social/emotional learning. Flynn has also embraced Rachel’s Challenge which is a curriculum built around the legacy of Columbine shooting victim Rachel Scott, who tried to build a school culture free of violence, bullying and self-harm.

“Our students participating in the round table were absolutely brilliant,” said Melisa Sandoval, Director of SEL & Student Agency.