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Dr. Harry Bull Named CASE Superintendent of the Year

CCSD Superintedent Dr. Harry Bull.The Colorado Association of School Executives has named Cherry Creek School District chief Dr. Harry Bull as the state's top superintendent for 2017.

CASE officials made the announcement on Oct. 25, citing Bull's commitment to excellence for all students, his tireless advocacy work and his leadership in the fight for adequate school funding across the state. A committee composed of previous award winners and superintendents selected Bull as the recipient for this year's Superintendent of the Year Award; he'll go on to represent Colorado in the 2017 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year program.

"Harry Bull is an outstanding district leader and held in very high regard by his peers across the state," CASE Executive Director Lisa Escárcega said in the association's official announcement. "He is tireless in his advocacy for students and public education, and one of the most effective voices at the state level when it comes to making the case for adequate school funding. CASE benefits greatly from his expertise and involvement and we are so proud to honor him with this award."

Bull offered heartfelt thanks for the honor, and gave plenty of credit to the administrators, teachers, staff and students that make up the Cherry Creek School District community. Bull, who started as CCSD superintendent in 2013 after decades spent in the district as teacher, principal and administrator, said the award reflects the consistent and consummate efforts of thousands.

"I'm truly honored, I'm humbled and I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm still trying to get my head around this. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to serve as the superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools," Bull said. "What this means for me is that there's a recognition statewide about the work that goes on inside of the district every single day. I'm the person who gets the name on the plaque – I get that – but this is really about the work that our teachers do in the classroom, our staff that works with kids every day, the building leadership team and the leadership at central office.

"It's about the people," Bull added.

 

"Harry Bull is an outstanding district leader and held in very high regard by his peers across the state," CASE Executive Director Lisa Escárcega said in the association's official announcement. "He is tireless in his advocacy for students and public education, and one of the most effective voices at the state level when it comes to making the case for adequate school funding. CASE benefits greatly from his expertise and involvement and we are so proud to honor him with this award."

 

The award is rooted in that hard work from thousands of individuals, Bull said. Specifically, the CASE honor recognizes the district's commitment to equity work, or to providing every individual student the same access to excellence, regardless of background. CASE officials cited specific markers of improvement for CCSD students of all backgrounds. For example, from 2013 to 2016, the graduation rate for Hispanic students in the district has increased by almost 4 percent (from 82.1 percent to 85.8 percent), and the mean ACT composite score for students of color has increased by 1.3 points. What's more, Cherry Creek Schools was featured by Rocky Mountain PBS in their Emmy Award-winning documentary "Standing in the Gap" as one of two of the 20 largest school districts in Colorado making the most progress in narrowing the opportunity gap.

But for Bull, those specific facts, figures and honors are only part of a much larger institutional effort that stretches back for more than a decade. He gives credit to previous superintendents Monte Moses and Mary Chesley in sparking a philosophical movement in the Cherry Creek School District that seeks to connect every single student with the proper resources, options and opportunities to learn and achieve at their highest level. Bull has worked to update that model for the demands and realities of a changing world, from boosting the district's career and technical learning infrastructure to rethinking the traditional definition of an achievement gap.

 

"We are moving away from the deficit model, from the model that states that it's the kid who's responsible for the lack of achievement. It's the responsibility of the organization to make sure that there's not a gap in the opportunities that we provide for our students," Bull said. "When we talk about inclusion, it is about our students of color, but it's also about including our students with special needs, our gifted and talented kids, our English language learners. It's about the diversity that we have as a district.

"I'm very proud of that work," he said.

The CASE award also recognized the district's work in offering resources for teachers, from professional development opportunities to the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) model that has become the standard at Cherry Creek Schools.

The 2017 Superintendent of the Year Award will offer Bull plenty of opportunities to communicate the successes and challenges of this work to education leaders across the state and the country. Indeed, he sees the honor as an opportunity to spark a wider conversation about issues that impact learning far beyond the Cherry Creek School District. Whether it's engaging in a meaningful discussion about the state of school funding in Colorado or working to reframe the narrative when it comes to the state of public education in America, Bull sees the award as a gateway to significant and important work.

"This recognition provides a platform to not only talk about the great work that's going on in Cherry Creek, but it also lets me talk about the great work that's going on in K-12 public education in the state of Colorado," Bull said. "I look at what my colleagues in rural Colorado are doing and what my colleagues in high-impact, high-poverty districts are doing, and I have the opportunity to go out and call attention to the great things that go on every day. I'll have the chance to champion that in multiple settings."

Posted 10/27/2016 11:26 AM

​"What this means for me is that there's a recognition statewide about the work that goes on inside of the district every single day. I'm the person who gets the name on the plaque – I get that – but this is really about the work that our teachers do in the classroom, our staff that works with kids every day, the building leadership team and the leadership at central office. It's about the people."

-- Dr. Harry Bull, CCSD Superintedent

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