A partnership between the Cherry Creek School District and the African Leadership Group makes a great deal of mutual sense. Just ask Superintendent Christopher Smith.
“Cherry Creek Schools wants to make sure each and every student and their family has the same opportunities and resources and are adequately supported during their educational experience,” Smith said in a Q&A with ALG (see full interview below).
ALG’s partnership with Cherry Creek is growing, as you can see from the growing number of joint activities we are sponsoring. The district is also acting as a sponsor of this year’s Afrik Impact celebration, for which we are grateful.
The increasingly diverse Cherry Creek School District is Colorado’s fourth largest, with 53,000 students. A growing number of those students speak other languages, come from other countries, and add a great deal of cultural diversity to the district, located south of Denver.
Currently, CCSD is home to about 200 African immigrant students, whose families immigrated from 20 different countries on the continent.
Cherry Creek Schools is sponsoring an ALG bus tour of its Innovation Campus on May 12. The student-led tour will feature a chance to meet with the superintendent and his leadership team, and learn about the academic offerings at the Innovation campus.
The district is providing the free bus from ALG headquarters, 10700 East Evans Avenue in Aurora. If you are interested in joining, please call ALG at 303-862-4062.
The district is planning four special enrollment nights for immigrant families this summer. It will be an opportunity for families to meet with a cultural liaison or interpreter for help with navigating the educational needs of their children.
There will be representatives from many of the school district departments to provide assistance and answer questions for current and future students of the district. Transportation to and from the event will also be provided by the district if requested.
Here are the dates and locations for the enrollment nights:
- July 11th, 8AM-12PM at Institute of Science and Technology building at Overland High School (12400 E. Jewell Avenue, Aurora)
- July 12th, 12-4 PM at Smoky Hill High School (16100 E. Smoky Hill Road, Aurora)
- July 20th, 8AM-12PM at Horizon Community Middle School (3981 S. Reservoir Road, Aurora)
- July 22nd, 9AM-2PM – Institute of Science and Technology building at Overland High School (12400 E. Jewell Avenue, Aurora)
ALG will provide a registration link when available.
Christopher Smith has served as Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent since 2021. Smith came to the district in 2009 after working as a teacher and principal in the Douglas County School District. In 2018, he became chief of staff before being named superintendent.
Here is ALG’s Q&A with Smith, which has been edited for length and charity.
ALG: What is your impression of ALG and the programs and services it provides to the community?
Christopher Smith: The African Leadership Group is a valuable community resource which provides critical services, support and connections for African immigrants. ALG is also a huge advocate for their community, ensuring families and students are seen, heard and supported throughout the community.
ALG: What are the key mutual benefits ALG and CCSD can realize from forging a stronger, more consistent relationship?
Smith: ALG and Cherry Creek Schools serve many of the same families and community members as well as share complementary goals in terms of building local community, developing education, career and job opportunities, and supporting the quality of life for the entire community. A stronger, more consistent partnership will help better achieve these goals and create a stronger community.
ALG: How can ALG help you better serve your population of African immigrant students — are there gaps ALG can help you fill?
Smith: Cherry Creek Schools wants to make sure each and every student and their family has the same opportunities and resources and are adequately supported during their educational experience. ALG serves as a critical liaison and connection point for many of these families and the school district.
ALG: What are the biggest challenges African immigrant students encounter in CCSD, and how is the district addressing them?
Smith: Cherry Creek Schools works with our immigrant and refugee families to ensure they know where to find important information, address language barriers, and establish community events specifically designed to help answer questions and establish relationships. We continue to work to improve on these services and ensure we are serving the African immigrant community in a helpful, productive way.
ALG: How would you like to see the relationship between the two organizations evolve over the next few years?
Smith: Through regular meetings, joint partnerships, and better integration of the two organizations, the partnership between Cherry Creek Schools and ALG can continue to grow and flourish and as a result be a better resource and partner for the African immigrant community.
ALG: What message would you like to communicate to the African immigrant community through this article?
Smith: I want African immigrant families and all families in our community to know that we are here for you, we care about your student(s) and your family, and we want to work together to make your experience in Cherry Creek Schools positive, fulfilling and a step toward finding every student’s Pathway of Purpose.