October 2017

CBS Denver

Volunteers teamed up in northeast Denver on Saturday outside an elementary school to build a new playground whose design was based on drawings by children. Read More…

The Denver Post

Holly Square was a flurry of activity as roughly 200 volunteers worked to build a playground in one day. People put together jungle gyms, raked mulch into place and painted stones outside Roots Elementary School in Park Hill. But the group was creating more than just a playground, they were creating a place for the quickly changing community to come together to recognize the past while looking to its future. Read More…

5280 Magazine Update:

The Northeast Park Hill charter school jumped two levels and growth is thanks, in large part, to achieving green or blue ratings on the SPF’s individual academic growth metrics. Read More…

September 2017


In 2008, the Holly Square Shopping Center in northeast Denver was firebombed with molotov cocktails in gang-related arson.The community rallied to rebuild, and the community group in charge of redevelopment asked me to build a new school on the ashes of the former shopping center. In 2015, we opened the doors of Roots Elementary to 100 kindergarteners and first graders in the neighborhood. Read More…

5280 Magazine:

When Jon Hanover launched Roots Elementary, a charter school in Northeast Park Hill, in 2015, he hoped to create an innovative, high-performing community school by transforming the way elementary education is taught—all on a spot once devastated by gang violence. Two years later, has the school made the grade? Read More…

June 2017

Teach for America, One Day Magazine:

Back to the Future with a New Kind of Open Classroom School. For a new school leader in Denver, constructing a school meant springing teachers and students from classroom isolation and imagining a new approach to open space. Read More…

February 2017

Ed Surge:

Where Are You on Your Personalized Learning Journey? Read More…

December 2016

Denver Post:

New Denver charter school to open in Holly Square in Park Hill. Read More…

May 2016

Stapleton Front Porch:

Roots Elementary: Offering Individualized Learning. Read More…

January 2016

Mile High Mamas:

Roots Elementary: The radical approach this new charter school is taking. Read More…

September 2015


Northeast Denver charter puts a new spin on teaching and learning. Read More…

November 2015

Mind Research Institute:

How Roots Elementary Intentionally Designs Each Scholar’s Day. Read More…

July 2015

Education Pioneers featured Principal Jon Hanover in a Pioneer Profile

Jon discussed his admiration for teacher and how being a school principal was destined from the start! Read More

August 2014

Jon was featured in an interview on KFKA’s The Amy Oliver Show.

He discussed the charter school movement and the vision for Roots Elementary. Listen here.

October 2014

Getting Smart: Innovative Primary School Puts Down Roots in Denver.

Read More…

October 2013

Jon had the honor of being invited to join CPT12’s Studio 12 for a panel on Education: From Cradle to College.

Watch here.


August 2013

Jon talked to the Greater Park Hill Community about his vision for Roots and the role he hopes it will play in the Park Hill community.

“It’s important to me that we have a community dialogue from the beginning,” said Jon. “We have a strong vision for the school but the details are in pencil right now so we can be responsive to what the community needs.”

Read more here.


June 2013

Jon spoke about education and social mobility at an A+ Denver screening of 56 Up.

“One reason I teach Kindergarten is that I believe the earlier you can make a change in a child’s education, the more of an impact we can have in their life.”

Read more here.


Jon has been featured in Teach for America’s monthly leadership newsletter! Read more below:

Jon Hanover, Colorado ’12

Occupation: Kindergarten Teacher, Rocky Mountain Prep; Founder, Roots Elementary

Undergraduate Education: Government, Harvard University

Describe the arc of your career. What did your path to school leadership look like? What skills/knowledge did you acquire at each step of your career?

I have an unusual path to school leadership. I began my career as a consultant for Bain and Company where I advised clients on strategy, management, and operations. While at Bain I 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. That experience made me realize how rewarding this work could be and how someone with my skillset could make an impact. As soon as Rowe opened I looked for a way to make that work my day job. I found the Charter School Growth Fund and soon was advising the founders and executives of the most successful school networks in the country on their growth. I was fortunate also to be an Education Pioneers fellow during this time, which helped broaden my sector knowledge. Now as a kindergarten teacher, I’m learning more than I ever have at any time in my life. The most valuable lessons are around how kids learn and what they need to be successful. The vision for Roots is pretty radical, and whenever you depart from the status quo , it is critical to understand the foundation you are building from.

Is there a significant moment in your corps experience that you could share?

There are so many. Recently I learned the father of one of my students had entered deportation hearings. As a teacher, I try not to have favorites, but this girl is without a doubt one of mine. She had entered my classroom speaking no English and had worked harder than anyone to overcome the language barrier. No more than a week before I got the news from her father, she had passed a STEP Level 2, putting her on grade level in reading. The news of her father affected me more deeply than I ever thought my profession could. I didn’t even know her father, but her mother assured me that if he were deported, the family would be moving to Paulo Blanco. I felt more angry and powerless than I have at any time in my life. When I finally cooled down, the episode instilled a deep sense of urgency in me; an urgency not only to catch my students up academically, but to prepare them to succeed no matter what conditions they face when they leave my classroom because you never know when that is going to be.

What is the single most important factor that has helped and continues to help you succeed as a school leader?

Grit. The challenges of school leadership are very different than teaching, but they are often as significant and overwhelming. As the leader of a school, you need to stay the course through very high “highs” and equally low “lows”– and through it all, inspire those around you to be better than they are. Incidentally, there is no better preparation for this than leading a classroom.

What advice do you have for corps members and alumni looking to pursue a career in school leadership?

First, make sure it’s right for you. If what gets you up in the morning is the smile on a kid’s face, or that moment when your class just gets it, you may want to stay in the classroom. As a school leader, you spend all your time with adults. Of course, everything you do is for the sake of the kids — but everything you do is done with adults. Many great teachers leave the classroom to become leaders because it seems like the “next step,” but then they realize being with kids is what makes them come alive and attaches them to the movement. A truly great teacher is one of the rarest gems on the planet. Don’t give that up just for the “next step.”
But if you enjoy working with adults and you believe you have the capacity to make them better than they ever thought they could be, become a school leader. Try to gain as many adult leadership experiences as you can before you make the leap, and talk to your colleagues about your strengths and weaknesses as a leader and find opportunities for professional development that matches your unique needs.

August 2016.

Roots selected as one of six schools in the country profiled by The Learning Accelerator.

The Learning Accelerator selected six schools in the country to profile in their “Blended & Personalized Learning Practices at Work” project – including Roots! They did a tremendous job capturing what makes our model tick with videos, pictures and screen-casts etc. Take a look!

June 2016.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation selects Roots Elementary to be featured on national foundation home page.

Roots is part of a small cohort of schools selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for support in their Next Generation Systems Initiative.  In June the foundation drafted a Charter School Spotlight on Roots and posted the profile on their home page.  You can see the feature here.

November 2015.

Roots named one of the top 25 schools in the country to visit by Getting Smart.

Getting Smart, a leading national thought leader in education, spent two days observing our teachers and scholars at work.  They then llisted Roots as one of the top 25 schools in the country to visit!  See the full list here.