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TNTP Re-imagine Teaching
Case Study

Denver: Rethinking Teacher Roles


Denver Public Schools

Project Dates

2013 – 2015


Denver, Colorado

Area of Work

Career Pathways, Compensation, Retention

In most school systems, teachers who want to earn more and play a larger role in their schools have only one option: to leave the classroom and become an administrator. In 2012, Denver Public Schools (DPS) set out to change that and provide its top teachers with new paths to more money and greater impact. 

With support from a federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant, DPS partnered with TNTP and Leading Educators to design and pilot Differentiated Roles, a teacher leadership program. The goal was simple: empower outstanding teachers to advance professionally, provide their peers with needed support, and lighten the load for principals, who often manage an unrealistic number of direct reports. 

We helped DPS design every aspect of the program and create two new teacher leader roles: team leads and senior team leads. Leading Educators then provided training and professional development for those roles. Team leads receive a $3,000 stipend for supporting colleagues in a specific area of instructional practice. Senior team leads receive a $5,000 stipend and are responsible for developing their teachers’ skills overall. 

In the first year, DPS piloted Differentiated Roles in 14 schools, which was so successful that it expanded to 40 schools the year after. DPS now runs the program independent of outside support and plans to expand the program to every district-run school in Denver by 2018, reaching well over 4,000 teachers. 


Amanda Kocon

Chief Strategy Officer

Heather Barondess


Jeffrey Wilson

Project Director

Stephanie Corona-Leblond

Project Director

It’s not always easy to go to the principal or assistant principals, so I like that I’ve been able to take on that role. I can really stand up for what teachers need so students can achieve and be successful.

– Teacher Team Lead