Award Year: 2013

Ponderosa Elementary School

1885 S. Lima Street
Aurora, CO, 80012-5138

(720) 747-2800

Elizabeth Sloan, Principal at time of Nomination

Cherry Creek 5

School Website


Ponderosa is a family where each child’s individual needs are met and challenged academically, socially, emotionally and physically through a relationship between home and school.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 30%
  • White: 22%
  • Hispanic: 36%
  • Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1%
  • Asian: 5%
  • Native American: 1%
  • Two or more races: 5%
  • ELL: 37%
  • Economically Disadvantaged: %

Ponderosa Elementary School is one of 61 schools in the Cherry Creek School District, located in southeast Denver, Colorado metropolitan area. The district, one of the highest achieving in Colorado, is 44% children of color, with students speaking more than 100 languages.

For the last four years, Ponderosa’s commitment to develop the school as a Professional Learning Community has been a fundamental process for fostering student growth and achievement. Each grade level meets weekly in Professional Learning Teams to review student progress, study instructional practices and establish goals for student learning. Teams focus on four questions: What do we want our students to learn? How will we know they are learning? What will we do if our students are not learning? What will we do if our students already know it?

The school’s approach to professional development embodies the principles of equality; everyone is of equal value. Everyone is a learner, everyone is a teacher. Our approach is to empower teachers to think for themselves and value them as creative professionals who are well equipped to make informed decisions for their students and their practice. This work is evident in the consistent academic growth of our students.

Engaging families and the community at Ponderosa is focused around the core beliefs that: parents have dreams for their children, they want what is best for them, and that parents have the capacity to support their child’s learning. Throughout the year, teachers interact with parents in a variety of ways to establish relationships and to provide information about student achievement and curriculum. Frequent, on-going communication between parents and teachers occurs through conferences, emails, phone calls and planners.