Rob Applegate has been invested in Jeffco schools for many years and will continue to be, with two kids in the district; one in middle school and one in preschool. He is passionate about education and holds a PhD in Applied Physics from the Colorado School of Mines. Rob was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs to support him and his brother. He was not certain he would attend a university, but being prepared to go to college was critical to Rob’s success.
That is why as an adult Rob has spent countless hours giving back to his community with volunteer efforts designed to ensure all students have access to a high quality public education.
Rob serves on nonprofit boards throughout the community that promote science and the arts, including Think 360 Arts for Education, the Colorado Military Academy Charter School, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Development Steering Committee.
Rob has also served on the board of the Golden Schools Foundation, an organization that raises money to support all schools in Golden. He sat on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education Advisory Board where he was able to better understand just how few students from families living in poverty actually attend and complete college. This helped solidify Rob’s passion to ensure every student has access to pathways that will let them succeed. Rob also served as the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) coordinator at Welchester Elementary, an organization that recruits dads, granddads, and other men to be active in schools providing positive male role models for students.
Rob became very active when the Jeffco school board surprised communities around the district announcing potential school closures. From his neighborhood school Stober, to Peck, Pennington, Swanson, and Pleasant View, Rob experienced the community anxiety of not knowing if your neighborhood school would be open or closed. When Pleasant View, a highly impacted community was the only school that closed, Rob knew there must be a better way. He knew many of the Pleasant View parents worked multiple jobs and couldn’t make the community meetings to save their school. When just a few years later, the district moved an innovation school into the Pleasant View building which had been closed to neighborhood families, Rob committed to making a difference.
With school closures back on the table, Rob knows it will take a balanced voice on the school board to help guide this conversation. In the years since Pleasant View was closed the Jeffco School Board has not created any district policies for how schools should be evaluated for closure. There have been no community engagement meetings by the school board and yet the conversation is coming back to the table. Rob knows Jeffco can do better. He was part of the community team that worked at Peck this fall and was once again reminded of the importance of not surprising communities.
Rob believes we need independent voices on our school board. Candidates that tie themselves to special interests may not always be working in the best interest of our kids. Our kids are the most important asset of our community and deserve to have a school board whose members are looking out for them first.
I have two kids in Jeffco schools; my oldest went through Welchester Elementary and is now in the iSTEM program at Bell. My younger son is in his second year at Norma Anderson preschool, so I will be invested in Jeffco Schools for years to come. I was raised by a single mom who worked 2 jobs, sometimes leaving for work before I was up and often coming home after I had fallen asleep. Pleasant View, a Golden area school, was a title 1 school with over 65% free or reduced lunch and was in a less affluent area than some of the other schools up for closing. In a community where stability may be hard to come by. I want to make sure no communities are surprised to be on a closure list and all students even those from families living in poverty have access to great education.
My vision is that every family in Jeffco has access to great public education. Growth is key in academic achievement. Schools that have high growth rates, meaning kids are learning a lot over the course of a school year, should share the key to their success across the district. The district should work to find what works best and emulate it throughout the different schools. My vision also includes seeing that the over $1.2 billion the district spends each year is being used to enhance education for students. The community should be able to tell the return they can expect when the board allocates funds. Teachers and staff should be well compensated
First and foremost, the district should pay teacher what they are worth. With the cost of living rising faster than the national average in Colorado, teachers are fundamentally underpaid. Just like other organizations Jeffco needs to create a culture where staff is recognized for their hard work and outstanding contributions. Part of this recognition is obviously adequate pay. I know far too many new Jeffco teachers who are having a tough time paying their bills each month. In addition to greater financial support, teachers should also be supported by the district. We need to let our exceptional teachers meet the needs of their students. We need to find the best practices and roll them out across the district. Finding what works best across the district and allowing individual teachers access to that best practices could help ease some of the load for lesson planning.
I always seek a balance and will work, to gather input from all stakeholders in the community; educators, administrators, support staff, students, parents, and the 70% of Jeffco households that don’t have any kids in school. A balanced board is one that is not beholden to one specific “side”, but rather works to include all. So I would treat all requests for information, or action with respect. I would investigate the request and see if it was something I could handle, something that needed board attention or something that needed to be handled by staff. I would communicate openly with those making the request and let them know what I was doing to handle their request. Sitting on many other boards I know the role of the school board member is to be the liaison to the district. My balanced approach would ensure all who ask for my assistance are treated with respect. All voices are important and add value.
My family moved to Applewood from the Highlands in 2011 following the birth of our second daughter. We focused on our current neighborhood because of the small, neighborhood school options and our girls are currently in 3rd grade at Stober Elementary and in 6th grade at Everitt Middle School. My husband is a Lakewood native (Alameda High School graduate) who worked at the Federal Center for over 20 years. I have worked at Campus Compact of the Mountain West, a higher education nonprofit serving Colorado and Wyoming, for the past 19 years. In my role I partner with colleges and universities to provide curricular and co-curricular opportunities for engaged student learning that connects students' educational experiences with real-world challenges. We host faculty and staff development workshops, convene community groups with higher education stakeholders to build reciprocal partnerships, and work with campus leadership to ensure that institutions of higher education serve as anchors for civic health and equity within communities.
I became involved at Stober Elementary in 2013 when our oldest daughter started kindergarten. After attending several events, I joined the PTA and served as co-president from 2014 through 2017. During that three-year time period, Stober Elementary was identified by the district for potential closure twice. In response to the potential closures, I worked with parents at the school, the PTA, neighborhood association groups, local businesses, and neighbors to research alternatives to closure and advocate to the Jeffco board of education about those alternatives. We created literature and canvassed the articulation area, inviting neighbors and community members to a forum with Jeffco facilities and board of education members. That forum included over 400 individuals. Following the board's decision not to close Stober Elementary (twice) and after stepping down as PTA co-president, I joined the Jeffco District Accountability Committee (DAC) and the District Unified Improvement Plan Sub-committee (DUIP). In those roles I acted as the Wheat Ridge Articulation Area representative on DAC and as a parent representative on the DUIP. In 2018 I volunteered with the 5A/5B bond and mill levy override campaign as a captain for the Wheat Ridge Articulation Area.
It is my vision that all students see their future in Jeffco through high-quality college, career, and community readiness from early childhood through high school graduation.
My motivation to serve on the Jeffco board of education stems from my lived experiences centered around a core value for me: educational equity. I believe strongly in the ability of all children to succeed if they are given the opportunity. Opportunity comes through educational equity and looking closely at how we're supporting students across the district, regardless of zip code. I am seeking the school board seat to advocate for equitable policies and practices that address the diverse needs of Jeffco students. I have two kids in Jeffco schools, have served as the co-president of the school PTA, have served on the district's accountability committee, and have been a vocal advocate for transparent processes in district decision making. I have a 20-year background in higher education and K-H partnerships and focused on conflict resolution and community organizing for my graduate degree. These connected experiences make me a strong advocate for schools, for families, and for kids.
It is my vision that all students see their future in Jeffco through high-quality college, career, and community readiness from early childhood through high school graduation. I support Jeffco Generations, the district's strategic plan, and believe that we must focus on 21st century skill development in addition to content mastery for our students to succeed in our rapidly-changing world. Eighty-five percent of the jobs our kids will have after graduation do not yet exist. Our communities need strategic thinkers, collaborators, individuals who can work across difference, and innovators in order to thrive. My vision is an engaged educational experience for all students that teaches them what they need to know and how their learning is connected to the world around them.
Jefferson County is an amazing place to live, work, and play. We have a responsibility to educators and support staff to provide competitive pay that allows individuals the ability to live in the communities in which they work. The district must continue to prioritize the people who make our schools great through increased pay that is competitive with surrounding districts. We also need to continue fostering a climate and culture of respect and professional recognition for educators and administrators. One strategy for doing so is through professional development and investment in the continuous learning of educators. Professional development focuses resources on the keys to student success - their teachers and support staff. The district cannot achieve its vision and goals without an investment in educators.
I have a history and practice of collaboration across diverse groups and individuals. In my professional life, listening to the needs of stakeholders on campuses and within communities, bringing people together in solution-focused dialogues, and developing programming and next steps based on best practices and learning is central to what I do. I will bring these skills into my role on the board of education, listening to the needs and challenges of individuals and groups, convening diverse voices to contribute ideas, and bringing forward the very best of those ideas for our kids. I may not always make decisions that are unanimously supported but I will be thoughtful and open to all possibilities, keeping the learning and well being of Jeffco students front and center.