• We Are DDES!

    Downtown Denver Expeditionary School is a K-5 charter school within the Denver Public School District.  We were founded in 2013 by parents, community members, and business leaders who desired a high performing EL Education school in downtown Denver.  DDES is the first public elementary school in over 100 years in Downtown Denver, and has been in the Downtown Denver Area Plan for over 30 years.

    At DDES, we are dedicated to fully embracing and executing EL Education’s expanded definition of achievement.  Through a commitment to continuous learning, staff members at DDES create learning activities that promote student growth and achievement on traditional measures, support students to create high quality work, and promote the development of both relational and performance character.  When a DDES student takes the next academic step, he or she will have demonstrated mastery of common core standards, articulated the steps he or she took as a learner to address challenges, created professional products to impact the world, and reflected on his or her growth as a member of the community.


    Our Mission:

    The Downtown Denver Expeditionary School (DDES) is an EL Education K-5 DPS public charter school. DDES seeks to richly implement the core principles, practices, and curriculum of EL Education to offer a diverse, caring and collaborative learning environment while utilizing the city as our campus.

    City As Campus:

    As a downtown school, we often refer to the city as our campus.  A component of our mission is to fully utilize the resources that surround us to create meaningful, deeper learning opportunities for students.  DDES students have danced at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, presented transportation reports to travelers at Union Station, and formally opposed a proposed bill that would relocate or exterminate prairie dogs during a meeting of representatives at the Colorado State Capitol.  When we’re not in the building that houses DDES, we do our work in the city by walking to the public library, interacting with citizens on the 16th Street Mall, and even participate in group games at a nearby park.  Our unique location is a key component of the DDES experience!

    Students We Serve:

    DDES currently serves a large cross section of Denver’s elementary students. Our student body lives in 27 of 27 of the Denver Public Schools zip codes and over 40 Denver Metro zip codes.  We opened in 2013 with 175 students in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades.  In 2016-2017 our population has grown to full build out with 403 students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Currently, approximately 23 percent of our students qualify for the Free and/or Reduced Lunch program and 39 percent are a non-white ethnicity. 


    Breakdown of students of color and families that qualify for free or reduced lunch since opening.











    Implementation of EL Education:

    Credentialing Data Sheet            Performance Benchmarks sheet                     Quality Work Protocol

    From the beginning, the vision for DDES was that it would be a model for deep, meaningful, and authentic learning experiences.  The founders of our school were quick to commit to a partnership with EL Education in order to achieve the vision.  We are proud that within our first year we developed “The Way of the Blue Bear” – which define and animate the character traits that undergird our work and learning. In year one, students dug into meaningful learning expeditions and even presented their work in learning during student-led conferences.  We remain fully committed to deep implementation of EL’s Core Practices through continuous revisions.  We look for opportunities to refine our approach to the development of performance and relational character because we know it is the foundation of everything else we do.  We’ve focused our professional energies on firmly establishing sound curriculum, data, and deeper learning practices.  Our goal is for students to think deeply and care deeply as they work through expedition content and projects.  While we are proud of what we’ve developed so far, we continue to leverage the EL network to improve as we strive for high quality implementation of a model we very much believe in!

    2014 IR                                        2015 IR                                        2016 IR

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    Mastery of Knowledge and Skills
    High Quality Work