A Bad Rap

Sticks and stones may break its bones, but can Teller Elementary's name hurt it?

Teller now offers after-school enrichment classes in science, art and music; on Wednesday evenings, parents and teachers run a study hall, and on Tuesday and Thursday nights, kids can come in for one-on-one tutoring. "I think people just haven't taken the time to see what changes have been made at Teller since Stevens closed," says CDM member Benson.

And Teller sometimes outscores Park Hill on the CSAP exams. Last year, Teller ranked 15th out of 84 Denver elementary schools on the third-grade CSAP reading test, with 67 percent of students scoring in the "proficient" category; Park Hill ranked 26th, with 57 percent of third-graders scoring a proficient.

"My wife and I joke that we're just average Joes," adds Meggitt. "There are no giant brains in this household. We have average kids, but they're doing outstanding at Teller. People are missing out by not coming here. Through the years, the school has gotten a bad rap, but I think it's just a lot of perception."

Dave Meggitt is proud to have his kids enrolled at Teller Elementary.
Mark A. Manger
Dave Meggitt is proud to have his kids enrolled at Teller Elementary.

Kris Foerstner had that perception. A single mother who moved to Congress Park a couple of years ago, she planned to enroll her daughter in Bromwell "because I'd heard better things about it," she says. "It has a better reputation. I heard that Teller's academic success wasn't that great, but I didn't check into it. My friends said that Bromwell has better test scores." Foerstner had initially moved into what she calls a "bad" apartment building in Congress Park. "I saw firsthand where these kids come from," she says. She now lives in a house around the corner from Teller but still sends her daughter to Bromwell.

Foerstner predicts that changing Teller's name won't convince parents to enroll there. "It's just a Band-Aid. It really won't do anything."

If Teller, named for former U.S. Senator Henry Moore Teller, does become Congress Park Elementary, it will mark the first time a Denver public school has been renamed for marketing purposes. Benson says she's not sure whether it would help the school overcome its reputation, but she says it's worth a try if the majority of Congress Park residents support it. So far, no one has indicated that they're wildly in favor of or opposed to the name change.

Meggitt sees the effort as the first step in dispelling lingering perceptions. "Slapping the Congress Park name on it will be like a business posting a sign saying 'new management.' I really believe it will entice people to come here."

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