WPS head Swanson wins state education honors

Staff Report
Posted 11/5/19

Westminster Public School’s superintendent Pamela Swanson has been picked as the 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives. Swanson, a one-time principal in …

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WPS head Swanson wins state education honors

Posted

Westminster Public School’s superintendent Pamela Swanson has been picked as the 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives.

Swanson, a one-time principal in Westminster Public Schools, was recognized for her efforts to transform the district, moving a competency-based educational philosophy.

“This is a truly humbling honor and it would not have been possible without the incredible support I have had from our students, families, community, staff and the Board of Education,” said Swanson. “I have always viewed WPS as a family, so this is really a celebration for all of us.”

Swanson began her tenure as interim Superintendent in 2011. The district is currently the largest school district in the country to be entirely competency based. Competency based education does away with traditional grades and grade levels by requiring students to show mastery of learning topics before moving to the next level. It’s designed to let some students progress quickly while others may take more time to fully learn a topic or fill in gaps in their learning.

Swanson and her team have become forceful advocates for reforming how schools and districts are evaluated.

“I believe this recognition validates our Competency Based System and our willingness to take on the status quo in public education,” said Swanson. “CBS is about equity in education and working to ensure that all students reach their full potential regardless of their background and circumstances.”

In addition to competency based learning, WPS passed the first mill levy override in 16 years and under Swanson’s tenure successfully rebranded the district, changing the name from Adams County School District 50 to Westminster Public Schools.

“What’s especially unique and impressive about Pam is the unwavering commitment she demonstrated in transforming an entire district education system that impacts around 9,300 students,” said Brenda Krage, president of the Colorado Association of Superintendents and Senior School Administrators. “She really had to effectively lead this transformation at every single level of the organization, knowing that the CBS model is a major departure from our current system that emphasizes once a year, high stakes testing. WPS is now a national model for successful systemic change and the largest district in the country to be entirely competency-based.”

Swanson received her undergraduate degree in music from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, her teaching credential from Cameron University in Oklahoma and she a M.A. in Educational Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership and organizational development from NOVA Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Dr. Swanson joined Westminster Public Schools, then Adams County School District 50, in 1995 as Principal at Westminster Hills Elementary.

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