4

Denver Public Schools' Tom Boasberg delivers good DPS news directly to your e-mail box

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The media isn't always interested in good news, says Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools' superintendent. "Generally speaking, stories that are more sensational or, in some cases, more negative will tend to attract more media coverage," he says.

To offer a different view, Boasberg began a weekly e-mail newsletter called "myDPS" that's now sent to 32,000 e-mail addresses.

"We started them pretty early on when I took over the superintendent's job," says Boasberg, who started in January 2009. The goal, he says, was to "exchange thoughts and concerns, and communicate with our community."

"It's fair to say that in the last couple of years, we've been in a fairly highly politicized environment, and sometimes that environment generates more heat than light," he adds. "Part of the purpose of 'myDPS' is to provide a little more light amidst some of that heat."

The e-mails are impressive. Well-written and colorful, they almost always include photographs and links to more information. And the subjects are largely positive. A recent e-mail titled "Worst to First" celebrated DPS' improvements in academic performance and enrollment. Another, called "Destination: Blue," lauded the achievements of University Park Elementary, which moved into the blue "Distinguished" category in the district's color-coded School Performance Framework this year.

Sometimes, the e-mails are more personal. One called "DPS Middle School Athletes Sprinting Ahead" featured a photo of a spandex-clad Boasberg leading a pack of runners as the pace bike for a cross country invitational. Here's an excerpt:

As I struggled on my mountain bike to fulfill my role as pace bike for the nearly 900 middle school runners who competed in last week's Slavens Cross Country Invitational (a task made fiendishly harder this year by the inclusion of two water crossings of the creek at Harvard Gulch!), I was struck by how far middle school sports have come in DPS over the past fourteen years.

Boasberg says he writes the e-mails alongside DPS's chief communications officer, Mike Vaughn. "Generally, Mike is good enough to do the first draft," he concedes. Boasberg says he then edits the draft, making sure to inject his voice.

Many recipients respond, Boasberg says. "I think getting the responses is a great way to get a window into how members of the community feel about particular issues," he says.

One recent e-mail that generated a flood of replies was called "Too Darn Hot." In it, Boasberg explained efforts to cool down classrooms during the heat wave that marked the first week of school. That issue was a controversial one, prompting at least two parents to start petitions to delay the first day of school until September.

In the e-mail, Boasberg told his 32,000 readers he'd be open to discussing the idea. And thanks to myDPS, they know how to get a hold of him.

More from our Education archives: "North High credit recovery investigation says poor adult oversight to blame for cheating."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.