Southshore School Receives Top Honors
December 3, 2019
Caley Mitchell loves teaching economics, government and U.S. history to students at Cherokee Trail High School – the Cherry Creek school in Southshore that students ages 14 to 18 attend. She’s one of a passionate team of educators who praise the administration and staff at Cherokee — a school that was recently named among the top 20 schools in Colorado by the Denver Business Journal.
“I don’t know all the criteria, but it really doesn’t surprise me that we rank higher than average,” Caley says. “This is the district teachers want to teach in because they’re respected and supported and valued. We have an outstanding administration and support staff. I feel bad for teachers I read about who have to go on strike to get wages so they can live where they work.”
A Talented Staff
Caley knows how hard it can be to do what you love and struggle to make ends meet. She taught for seven years in another county, and when she left was barely making $40,000 – and that with a master’s degree and years of experience. Since joining the teaching staff at Cherokee Trail five years ago, she’s doubled her salary and feels fortunate to have landed her job as a teacher and the head coach of the girls’ softball team.
“Not to toot our own horns, but we have a really good staff at Cherokee Trail,” she says. “Teachers who genuinely want to be here and feel valued. That trickles down to the kids.”
There’s the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Cherokee Trail which is a comprehensive and rigorous two-year pre-university curriculum for juniors and seniors. It’s like a school within a school, Caley says and the kids who graduate with an IB diploma have the same diploma kids all around the world receive. “There’s an Advanced Placement (AP) track, and concurrent enrollment with Cherokee Trail and Aurora Community College – which is a really cool program,” Caley says. “Kids here can graduate with enough credits to start their college careers as sophomores.”
Caley says that student demographics is another lure for teachers, parents and students. “We have a really diverse student body and kids feel like they can connect somewhere here – there’s going to be someone who looks like them and thinks like them. There are so many ways and clubs and sports that kids can participate in and belong to.”
Diverse Student Body
Caley says teachers gather together in early morning meetings to compare notes and share best practices. There’s a profound emphasis on student performance and student workloads and achievement, all of which is appealing to parents and kids.
“There’s a kind of richness to the high school experience here with the diversity of backgrounds,” Caley says. “We have a significant Indian and southeast Asian population, even refugees – it’s like a little microcosm of real life. And it’s a super authentic school environment – not forced or artificial, because these kids are growing up together — on the same sports teams, in the same clubs and classes. You couple that with a relatively affluent community and a good staff dedicated to high achieving academic performance — it’s the whole package and everybody enjoys and appreciates all of that.”
Scholastic Success in Southshore
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