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First DSST parent elected to DPS Board shares his perspective

Scott Esserman is the first DSST parent elected to the Denver Public School Board of Education. His son attends DSST: Montview Middle School

I had the chance to talk with him, and during our conversation, Esserman emphasized some areas in which DSST sets an example for the rest of the district.

According to Esserman, when it comes to succession planning for school leaders, the DSST model is something that should be adopted district-wide.

“When a school leader leaves, there is no drama about a search for who is going to fill the role or anxiety that comes with making that kind of decision,” Esserman said. “There is genuine community engagement with the person that is coming in. [The community] is going to have some say in how that school leader leads.”

DSST also sets a great example when it comes to the internal development of teachers, Esserman said. He described it as an “internship model that prepares people who may or may not be ready to be a teacher.” The model gives new teachers a chance to get used to the DSST culture and structure before stepping into a teaching role, Esserman said.

Yes, Esserman made a point to say that DSST -- much like any other school network -- is not perfect, but he (as a parent) and his son have had an overall positive experience. 

“There have been some positives and challenges,” Esserman said. “COVID-19 has presented a significant part of that challenge. My son (other than during last year) has had a positive experience. There are teachers who care about him and respond to his needs. It’s been a good fit for him.”

Esserman said he experienced some challenges when it came to remote learning, but he was overall pleased with the initial pivot made by DSST at the beginning of the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, Esserman said he hasn’t been able to be as involved at DSST as he would have liked, and that is just the reality of the situation brought on by COVID-19.

“By and large students, teachers, families and others not just at DSST but within the education space are experiencing levels of stress and uncertainty through COVID-19 and it is imperative that those get addressed,” Esserman said. “I want to honor [those struggles] and I want to make it clear that my first priority after being sworn in is addressing those concerns.

DSST shines in many areas, according to Esserman, but DSST parent or not, he just wants what is best for students first and foremost, as well as teachers, families and staff. Esserman’s focus is on representing the community as a whole. 

While having the first DSST parent on the board is exciting news for many within the DSST network, Esserman said in his perspective, he was elected as more than just a DSST parent.

“It’s important to me as an elected school board member that I am representing all parents, teachers, students, administrators and staff within Denver Public Schools,” Esserman said. “I have a responsibility to listen to all of those people. Our communities aren’t monolithic. Our needs aren’t monolithic and I am committed to continuing to listen to the needs of all community members and act on those.”