The Greatest Success Story in American History

  • Written by: Don Haddad, Ed.D., Superintendent
  • Photos by: Aaron Ford

Across all schools in the St. Vrain Valley, our students are advancing excellence and will be the future leaders who will change our world. We are St. Vrain Valley Schools. We are the future of America. We are public education proud. #SoundOn #StVrainStorm

Public schools provide the foundation to our nation's success.

Neil Armstrong, Dian Fossey, Steve Jobs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Meg Whitman, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, Diane Sawyer, Martin Luther King Jr., Ellen Ochoa, Colin Powell, Larry Page, Annie Leibovitz, Ronald Reagan...all of these cultural and industry icons have shaped the past, present, and future of our country. Whether through business, media, science, law, technology, art, or discovery, our world has been transformed by these and millions of others who arose from a common foundation: they are all products of a public school.

Throughout the world, the United States is seen as a beacon of invention, with the creation of knowledge, technology, manufacturing, and industry driving the success of the U.S. economy. Central to that growth is the strength of our public schools and the impact of education on cultivating human capital, fostering innovation capacity, and furthering knowledge transfer that leads to technical advancements, and resource development1.

While the first public school in America was founded in 1635, the shift toward public schools as we know them today began in the late 1830s with the Common School model. Throughout that period, the United States experienced continued economic growth, and since the late 1800s has consistently had the largest economy in the world2.

Many factors go into economic growth and development, but at the heart of what makes our communities and our country great are our people – the creativity, ingenuity, curiosity, and drive within all of us to advance our society. In the U.S. today, approximately 90 percent – or 50.7 million – of our nation’s children attend a public school3, and in Colorado, over a quarter of a million students have graduated from a public high school in the past five years.

In St. Vrain Valley Schools, we believe public education – second only to parenting – has the most significant impact on our society. Educating students is a mission and a responsibility that we champion with the highest regard to our role in shaping the future for everyone.

St. Vrain’s high-quality public schools contribute significantly to our community by driving local economic growth through workforce development and attracting companies that create jobs, increasing public safety, enhancing community health, strengthening our service industries, and increasing property values.

“Public schools are the foundation of a city. Of course they are where our children learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, but they also create the most foundational building blocks of our cities,” said Colorado House Majority Leader, KC Becker. “Civics, parent interactions, special guests coming to display their knowledge, teachers, and administrators engaging young people – these are the things that create healthy and vibrant cities, towns, and communities. Our public schools serve us in so many more ways than the learning that goes on inside.”

“St. Vrain continues to be one the most forward-thinking, innovative school districts in America, and its educational leadership in workforce development is second to none.”

- Pete Lorenzen, IBM Colorado Senior Executive

Photo: Erie High student, Andrew Jordan, tries his hand at performing robotic surgery.

St. Vrain Valley Schools – Transforming Public Education

Over the past decade, St. Vrain has transformed public education in our community to emphasize the needs of the 21st century. In partnership with our teachers, families, students, elected officials, business partners, and other members of our community we have prioritized student learning and instructional programs that are deeply engaging students in critical thinking to develop solutions to global problems, foster entrepreneurial thinking, and deepen cultural understanding and empathy for others.

From investments in robust early childhood programming – including high-quality preschool options and fullday kindergarten at every school in the district – to the development of high school academies emphasizing leading industries including aerospace, biomedical sciences, energy, and STEM, students across St. Vrain are graduating more prepared than ever to meet the rigorous demands of our complex society.

In partnership with IBM, St. Vrain has taken the role of workforce development a step further. In 2016, St. Vrain launched its first P-TECH program, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School, to give students the opportunity to earn an associate degree alongside their high school diploma at no cost to the student. Students who graduate from the program receive significant mentorship and internship opportunities and are first-in-line for in-demand, high-paying jobs, or can continue their studies at a four-year university. St. Vrain’s new PK-14 environment is currently being expanded to continue strengthening workforce development across our community and contribute more deeply to the expanding technology, biomedical, and cybersecurity sectors.

“St. Vrain continues to be one of the most forward-thinking, innovative school districts in America, and its educational leadership in workforce development is second to none,” said Pete Lorenzen, IBM Colorado Senior State Executive and IBM Boulder Senior Location Executive. “IBM isproud of the strategic partnerships we share, such as P-TECH, that provide students with the 21st-century skills necessary to thrive in our nation’s economy, both now and in the future.”

The Future of America

Our students are the learners, creators, problem solvers, dreamers, competitors, builders, thinkers, and leaders who will join history’s icons and become our country’s future doctors, teachers, scientists, elected officials, artists, armed service members, engineers, and globalized citizens who will change our world.

Public education is the greatest success story in American history, and St. Vrain Valley Schools is proud to be advancing the future of our economy and our country through the delivery of a world-class public school system.

By the Numbers: Impact of Public Education

K-12 aged children in the United States – approximately 90 percent of our nation’s children – attend a public school3.
When calculating the public benefits of education in terms of high school graduation rates, the net economic benefit to the public is $127,000 per high school graduate4.
A five percent increase in high school graduation rates would produce an annual savings of $5 billion in crime-related expenses5.
9.2 years
High school graduates live, on average, 9.2 years longer than those without a high school diploma6.


1Hanushek E A and Wößmann L (2010), Education and Economic Growth. In: Penelope Peterson, Eva Baker, Barry McGaw, (Editors), International Encyclopedia of Education. volume 2, pp. 245-252. Oxford: Elsevier.

2Maddison, Angus. (2018), The West and the Rest in the World Economy: 1000-2030 Maddisonian and Malthusian Interpretations.

3National Center for Education Statistics (2018), Back to School Fast Facts. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/ fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

4Levin, H.M., et al. (2007). The costs and benefits of an excellent education for all of America’s children. Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education (CBCSE), Teachers College, Columbia University, New York.

5Justice Policy Institute. (2007). Education and Public Safety. Retrieved from http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/ upload/07-08_rep_educationandpublicsafety_ps-ac.pdf

6Feinstein, L., et al. (2006). What are the effects of education on health?, Measuring the Effects of Education on Health and Civic Engagement: Proceedings of the Copenhagen Symposium, OECD.

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ST. VRAINNOVATION was produced in-house by the St. Vrain Department of Communications.
ST. VRAINNOVATION and other district initiatives are generously supported by these and many other community sponsors.

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