Welcome to Roots Elementary! Roots Elementary is a charter school network being founded in Denver by Jon Hanover. Roots leverages best practices from around the country and cutting-edge technology to build a groundbreaking new elementary model that finally puts students at the center of their education.
Roots Elementary inspires all students to set audacious goals and delivers the individual coaching, academic preparation and character education needed to reach them.
Roots Elementary envisions a world where demography is not destiny – where all children, regardless of race or family income, have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. We believe great schools have the power to break the cycle of poverty and propel our country to live up to the promise of the American Dream.
Roots puts students at the center of their education. Students are not batched by age or random assignment to a classroom, but rather flexibly grouped and regrouped throughout the day so they are always challenged but never drowning. This increases the productivity of time spent at school and enables students to rapidly build foundational knowledge and skills, freeing them to think critically, engage in collaborative projects and become creators not just consumers of their world.
Each student has a personal learning plan developed collaboratively with a Learning Coach at Roots. By the time a student graduates she will have years of experience setting her own goals and making decisions about how to spend her time and use her resources to achieve them. When combined with excellent core instruction, this prepares our graduates to not only succeed in college but also lead in the world beyond it.
At the Charter School Growth Fund, Roots founder Jon Hanover worked closely with the leaders of the most successful and innovative charter school networks in the county. Over 90% of students at these schools matriculate directly to colleges and universities, even though most are the first generation in their family to do so. Jon was responsible for advising the founders and CEO’s of these organizations on a wide array of strategic issues. He also evaluated new school models, recommended investments and monitored performance of portfolio schools.
Jon began his career at Bain & Company where he advised clients on strategy, management and operations. While at Bain he also worked pro bono with the founder of Rowe Elementary during her planning year, contributing to the successful launch of a K-8 charter school on Chicago’s west side. Jon is currently a founding elementary teacher at Rocky Mountain Prep in southeast Denver.
Roots is different because we...
make learning personal
In a traditional school model, students with a wide range of strengths and needs are expected to learn the same content in the same way at the same pace. Roots Elementary will “knock down the walls” of the traditional classroom and leverage great educators and cutting-edge technology to allow students to progress largely at their own pace, learn in the modality that is most effective for them, and enrich the core academic program in ways that ignite their intellectual curiosity.
respond to data in real-time
Great schools collect data on student learning and respond to it by adjusting instructional plans several times throughout the year. Roots’ innovative blended learning model tightens this feedback loop from 6-8 weeks to a single day. Students who do not master a daily objective receive targeted remediation the same day.
empower students to make decisions
Most schools that succeed with low-income populations have highly structured and compliance-oriented learning environments. This structure may be necessary for pulling students out of the “crisis of basic skills,” but these students regularly struggle when they enter more unstructured environments after graduation. At Roots, teachers direct students through their personal learning plans at first, but gradually empower students to design it themselves. By the time students graduate from Roots, they will have years of practice directing their own learning. This will be an invaluable skill in college and the world beyond.
push students to be creators not just consumers
In traditional schools, students are primarily consumers of their education. At Roots students are not only empowered to design their schedules but they are given the space and the tools to be true creators. They are coders, structural engineers, sewists, chefs and filmmakers. In addition to extending core STEM skills, the “Maker Space” at Roots nurtures the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
leverage community assets
Our job is not to “fix” a community but to help it leverage its many assets in service of our children. Community members are called on to share their expertise in our Maker Space, the Roots Senior Corps reads with students and admires their creations and local businesses contribute food to family learning nights.
extend the reach of great teachers
By unbundling the core responsibilities of a teacher, our staff is able to focus on what makes them great and reach more children with their unique talents. For instance, each student has a Learning Coach who develops deep relationships with kids and families, helps them set goals and individual plans and then coaches them through the execution. Then there are content specialists who are focused solely on delivering world-class instruction in their focus area.
We support our master educators with technology solutions, paraprofessionals, volunteers and teacher residents who take the more basic instructional and administrative tasks of their plates. This allows us to offer extended learning time to students while allowing teachers maintain balanced personal lives, making Roots a high-impact and sustainable place to build a career as an educator.