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This last year at PassageWorks has brought many exciting developments—as we have significantly expanded the scope and impact of our work with educators in Colorado, California and beyond. Our impact in 2015:


Whole School Projects
and Engagements


Courses and


Educators in
350+ Schools



In this last year, PassageWorks has become increasingly focused on whole school projects. These projects invite teachers, administrators, students and parents to collaborate in fostering a more intentional, relationship-based, inclusive school climate and culture where all students thrive socially, emotionally and academically.

PassageWorks Institute (PWI) offerings include: our core courses (see description below), customized professional learning sessions, publications (books and curricula), coaching, formative and summative assessments, and systems implementation consulting.

Key to our work with schools is the introduction of Engaged Teaching practices and principles that integrate academics with Social and Emotional Learning, Mindfulness, Cultural Responsiveness, and Whole Systems Thinking.

The following are key elements of each of our Whole School Projects (click on each for more info):

Integrated Approach     Community Buy-in     Learning Communities       Collaborative Design


Monaco Elementary School
Commerce City, CO (Launched 2015)

School Profile: A public elementary school in Adams County School District 14 with a diverse student body and 90% of its students receiving Free and Reduced Lunch. Monaco Elementary’s mission is to engage, challenge, and support every child through meaningful, student-centered instruction and a positive community.
Project Support: School Resources, District support, and The Denver Foundation Grant
Project Description: (Launched in summer, 2015.) The Monaco project has so far included regular design team meetings and an ongoing series of professional development based on the book The Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching. Monaco's Principal, Ari Gerzon Kessler, is working closely with the Monaco Design Team of teachers and administrators and PassageWorks faculty on the project. PWI is also facilitating a school-based Equity Cohort of teachers who are committed to creating culturally responsive classrooms.
Outcomes: Educators have an introductory understanding of SEL and the Engaged Teaching approach.
Educator Quote: “I learned that a community needs to build a sense of belonging. Teachers have the power to make it happen in the classroom."

North Middle School
Aurora, CO (Launched 2013)

School Profile: North Middle School Health Sciences & Technology Campus is a public middle school in Aurora, CO whose vision is to inspire culturally diverse students to achieve the highest standards of social, emotional and academic learning through a comprehensive, engaging program.
Project Support: School Resources, District, and The Denver Foundation Grant
Project Description: In year one, PWI partnered with North to plan and offer an ongoing series of monthly two hour professional development sessions based on the book the Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching. In year two, with the support and coaching of PWI, North Teacher Leaders took on the facilitation of the sessions. Additionally, PWI facilitated an Engaged Parenting program, and offered a Culturally Responsive Leadership course.
Outcomes: At the end of 2014-15 school year, teacher retention rates were 93% compared to 48% in 2013-14. Additionally, in 2014-2015 suspensions decreased by 34% for all students compared to previous year. See link to the Denver Foundation Rising Above video for more educator perspectives.
Educator Comment: “I have learned how to better work with colleagues who are different from me. I have learned my value and place in this community.”

Whittier International Elementary School
Boulder, CO (Launched 2014)

School Profile: Public neighborhood school with an international focus, and a creative, inquiry-based approach to learning. Whittier serves students from more than 20 countries and is an authorized International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program school.
Project Support: School Resources and District Grant
Project Description: PWI offered customized professional learning experiences, an all staff Creating Engaged Classrooms course, a book study group on The Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching, and intensive onsite consulting and co-facilitation days. PWI faculty also partnered with teachers to design and co-teach integrated lesson plans for every classroom.
Outcomes and Comments: The onsite consulting and coaching offered teachers the opportunity to see the engaged teaching approach modeled and to receive direct classroom support. This work was central to Whittier’s commitment to integrate SEL into their school in 2014-2015.
Educator Comment: “My biggest takeaway was the importance of incorporating this type of learning into the classroom. With our busy schedules and the many time constraints we face to cover content standards, it can be hard to slow down and do this type of work. However, I realize that when this type of work in incorporated, the rest of the learning becomes more meaningful and effective.”

East Side Unified High School District – San Jose, CA (Launched 2015)

District Profile: 24,000 students grades 9-12 with 11 comprehensive high schools. Students speak more than 40 native languages.
Project Support: School & District Resources, and Foundation Consortium
Project Description: In the fall, PWI facilitated a Creating Engaged Classrooms course for 70 new teachers at the New Teacher Academy, and we will be offering a Creating Engaged Classrooms course for Santa Teresa High School teachers in November.

Saratoga High School
Saratoga, CA (Launched 2013)

School Profile: Saratoga is a public high school located in a Silicon Valley professional community. It has an enrollment of approximately 1300, with over 98% of its graduates enrolling in college. Their mission is to optimize the learning of each student, and create a community of learners committed to excellence, lifelong learning, personal integrity, social responsibility, and good physical and mental health.
Project Support: School Resources, District, and 1440 Foundation Grant
Project Details: Over the last two years, teachers have attended multiple courses including Creating Engaged Classrooms, Transformational Leadership, and the Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching. Additionally, PWI offered a one day professional learning session for all staff to kick off the school year. This fall, we are launching a Teacher Leadership program and partnering with the Saratoga PTSO on a Five Dimensions of Engaged Parenting evening .
Outcomes: SHS faculty have been deepening their work with integrating social, emotional and academic learning, and supporting students to discover a broader sense of “success” beyond just academics.
Educator Comments: “Getting to know my colleagues is HUGE!” “It was great to get to know my coworkers better with very structured activities that encourage openness and storytelling.”

Other School Engagements:

Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies, CO
The Hotchkiss School, CT
Nevada City School for the Arts, CA
Endeavor Academy, CO
Lexington High School, NE
Stanley British Primary, CO
SOAR School, CO


University of Colorado Boulder - Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence

In September 2015, the CU Boulder Center received a National Institute of Justice 2015 Comprehensive School Safety Initiative Award to implement the Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS) Model in 32 Colorado middle schools. This four year, $6.2 million project begins in January 2016. PassageWorks will play a key role in capacity building and ongoing implementation of the program.

University of Colorado Denver (UCD) School of Education and Human Development

In September 2014, the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) School of Education and Human Development was awarded a multi-million dollar, five year, US Department of Education Teacher Preparation grant to prepare a diverse group of teachers for Denver Public Schools and to support teachers in selected rural areas in obtaining Master of Education degrees. The grant application included PassageWorks as a provider of mindfulness and social emotional learning, and in August 2015, one of our lead SMART facilitators began working with members of UCD faculty to support the first cohort of undergraduate students.


PWI Faculty

PWI currently has a Faculty team of 18 career educators who work closely with the full-time staff to lead and facilitate courses, support whole school projects, and develop publications, courses, and curricular resources. This team approach is a core strength of PassageWorks.

Course Updates and Developments

This last year, we refined and expanded our core course offerings. We now offer five unique and interconnected courses in Colorado and across the nation. These five courses offer educators a variety of ways to explore and practice the Engaged Teaching Approach:

5 Dimensions of Engaged Teaching, Creating Engaged Classrooms, SMART Mindfulness Training for Teachers, Culturally Responsive Leadership, and Transformational Leadership for Educators

Click here to explore the five core courses.

Staff Update

Our sincere thanks and best wishes to David Macek who is moving to Portland Oregon, and a warm welcome to Vinita Unny, our new Operations Manager.

PassageWorks is a 501(c)(3) under federal tax guidelines. Tax ID: 48-1278766