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PES named finalist for Succeeds Prize

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Paonia Elementary School has been named one of nine finalists for The Succeeds Prize. Now in its second year The Succeeds Prize recognizes transformational public schools throughout the state, and is sponsored by Colorado Succeeds, 9NEWS/KUSA, and mindSpark Learning, a nonprofit dedicated to impacting and evolving education through educators.

The $45,000 prize will be shared between one elementary school, one middle school and one high school winner. "The Succeeds Prize gives us the opportunity to celebrate Colorado educators and recognize what is working in our schools," said Steve Carter, general manager of 9NEWS/KUSA TV, in a press release.

A selection committee comprised of education, government and business leaders will decide the award winners by reviewing information and conducting interviews with school leaders, teachers, parents and community members during site visits to each school. Of the more than 20 committee members, 95 percent have taught in a classroom, led a school building, served on a school board or charter school, or worked in a district or state agency. Interviews and site visits will take place through April.

PES is one of three elementary school finalists, joining Henry Elementary School in Colorado Springs District 11, and Rocky Mountain Prep Creekside in the Denver Public Schools district.

"We're super excited," said PES principal Sam Cox. "It's wonderful, wonderful news." It was also unexpected in that the school didn't apply for the award. Rather, the selection committee based its decisions on blind studies of growth and achievement data received from schools throughout the state. Once the field was narrowed down, the names of the schools were revealed.

PES learned about the Succeeds nomination about a month ago. "When we shared the news with staff, they were all super thrilled," said Cox. "It just goes to show the quality of teachers and support staff and the support from the community" in providing the best educational opportunities possible.

The Succeeds Prize is the most prestigious award and recognition event for Colorado's public schools and educators and honors the transformational impact the state's public schools and educators are leading across the state, according to the press release. PES was one of two schools, and the only elementary school, on the Western Slope to make the list of finalists. Carbondale Middle School in the Roaring Fork School District 2 is one of three middle school finalists.

"Educators across Colorado are doing incredible work in their schools, yet they rarely have the chance to connect with and support one another," said Scott Laband, president of Colorado Succeeds. "The Succeeds Prize not only rewards their efforts, it also shares these effective and scalable practices so educators statewide can benefit. We have learned so much for our 2017 winners and finalists, and the business community is coming together once again to recognize and reward these unsung heroes."

In addition to the $45,000 in cash awards, The Succeeds Prize is offering a $15,000 Excellence in Education Innovation Award, a $15,000 Excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Award, and a $15,000 Excellence in Education Leadership Award, to be presented by 9NEWS. Separate committees will also select the winners of these awards.

Award winners will be revealed at a ceremony on Sept. 18.

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