Important News Regarding Morey Principal

Morey Community,

Four years ago, I was privileged to be asked to lead this community of learners. Before I took over, Morey was languishing near the bottom of the performance pile in DPS, and was on the brink of closure. I built a new leadership team, including hiring Assistant Principal Hillary Niebauer in March of 2015, replaced most of the staff, and set about to build systems and structures that would support a positive and academically challenging school culture, including a mindfulness program and strong therapeutic social-emotional supports. Throughout this work, Ms. Niebauer was instrumental in our schoolwide cultural and academic shift, serving as the “yin” to my “yang.” Morey came back from the brink, and has now been rated “Green” under the DPS School Performance Framework for the last two years.

I directed our staff to engage in school-wide empathy work, and together we worked with parents to determine how to build a data-driven system of acceleration, where students were met with academic challenges that were rooted in their demonstrated needs. We even engaged students in a two-day design challenge that brought out their best ideas for innovative school transformation. We worked to disengage from a larger school system of culture of adherence to a singular scope and sequence, exploring ways to personalize student learning experiences through voice and choice and allowing students to drive their own learning through their passions and personal lenses as codified in their collaboratively developed Individual Learning Plans. Together, Ms. Niebauer and I led a design team that achieved Innovation Status as a means to bring this vision to life. This work has been some of the proudest work I have engaged in during my professional life.

Four years ago, I left my family in Indiana to join this school community, and we were separated for nearly three months before they sold the house and could join me. In the last four years, I have commuted from our home in Aurora for a drive that typically takes 40-45 minutes in the morning and up to 75 minutes on the way home. There have been many evenings away from home for recruitment events, school functions, and Morey family opportunities, and through it all, my family has been very patient. For four years, I gave my heart and soul to this community, but now it is time to embrace an opportunity to spend more time at home.

This week, I accepted the position of Principal at Challenge School in Cherry Creek, a K-8 magnet for gifted and advanced learners, a position for which my time at Morey paved the way. This opportunity gives me a chance to lead elementary learners in addition to middle school, a new professional experience for me. It is also a commute that takes all of 17 minutes in morning or evening. This will allow me to spend more time at home, to spend more time at work without sacrificing as much at home as I have previously, and to involve my family more in my school community.

Leaving Morey is bittersweet, but I am pleased to announce that Hillary Niebauer has been named Interim Principal until a more thorough search can be engaged in next year, a search for which she will be a candidate. Ms. Niebauer has co-led our drive for innovative practices, is a champion of social-emotional supports for middle school students, is deeply committed to the development of professional relationships in our community, and understands the deeper needs of both highly gifted and talented learners and of those who come from a trauma-based environment. Lastly, she is a resident of the Park Hill neighborhood and is proud to serve what is essentially her home community. She has been a powerful partner in the last three years at Morey, and it will be hard to find a teammate to match her systems thinking, her quick wit, and her passion for children. Four years ago, I pledged that when I finally left Morey, it would be a better place than it was before, and not only am I proud to have achieved that with an amazing team, but I am relieved to leave it in the capable hands of Interim Principal Hillary Niebauer, who will send communication home soon.

I am sad to have to say goodbye after the close of the school year without much of a chance to say goodbye in person, but I will be watching Morey continue to grow from afar. Thank you for all that you have taught me, and I wish you well.

Please find links to official Denver Public Schools communications regarding this leadership change below.

Morey Interim Principal Announcement- FINAL ENG 6 12 18

16406_1_Morey Interim Princi_SP

Noah Tonk
Proud Principal, 2014-18
Morey Middle School

Letter Regarding No School on Friday, April 27, 2018

Dear Morey Community,

I wanted to provide an update about the class schedule for Friday, April 27. Due to significant anticipated teacher absences, DPS is cancelling all classes for Friday, April 27, including at our school.

DPS has been working in partnership to press our state government to restore education funding to our schools. The statewide teachers’ association, the Colorado Education Association (CEA), is planning a statewide rally of educators on Friday, April 27, to advocate for greater state funding and expects that many of our teachers will participate.

We had originally planned an early release on Friday, but due to the number of teachers planning to take the entire day off on Friday, DPS did not believe we would be able to keep our schools open on Friday. This is the case with most of our surrounding districts as well.

We want to support you through this change. Below is some information to help you plan for this non-student day.

Meals available for students:

To ensure our students have access to a meal this day, our school is partnering with Dora Moore to provide breakfast and lunch at no cost on Friday, April 27. Dora Moore will be providing breakfast from 8 to 8:30 AM on Friday and lunch from 10:45 to 12:30 PM on Friday. Please reach out to Dora Moore if you have questions.

Childcare options:

If you have concerns about childcare during this time, please contact the Family and Community Engagement team’s family hotline at 720-423-3054, and they can point you to additional resources. If you have additional questions, contact.

Families that are currently enrolled in Discovery Link can sign up for full-day care, which will be held at designated locations throughout the city. Interested families can learn more and sign up for care at


All middle school athletics are cancelled.

Shakespeare Festival:

The 34th Annual Shakespeare Festival is scheduled as planned. More information will be shared soon regarding transportation for families on April 27.

If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 720-424-0700 or at


Noah Tonk


Morey Middle School

Discovery Week 2018 is Almost Here!

It’s time to get excited about Discovery Week! Take a look at all of the selections available this year.

8th graders pick Thursday, April 5
7th graders pick Friday, April 6
6th graders pick Friday, April 6

Support our Destination Imagination Teams on Saturday, April 7!

Announcement Regarding School Walkouts on Wednesday, March 14

Hello Morey Community,

As you have likely heard in the news and on social media, students across the nation are planning to walk out on Wednesday in order to, according to organizers, “demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools.” Several area middle schools and high schools have planned demonstrations for Wednesday, and we have a growing number of students who have expressed interest in participating. In order to keep our students safe, give them an opportunity to participate in civic conversations that impact them, and to give them a chance to live our school vision of social justice, we are providing an opportunity for students to remember those who have died as a result of gun violence in schools and to make their voices heard for our legislators to keep our schools safe. This is not an endorsement of any particular political viewpoint of how to make that happen; rather, it is a recognition that the last 19 years of mass shootings at schools must finally be addressed by our government.

At 10:17 AM on Wednesday, March 14, our teachers will lead their students that wish to participate out of the front doors on 14th Avenue. Students who do not wish to participate will be able to stay inside in either room 103 or room 122. Once outside, our students will turn right and will walk silently around the school for 17 minutes, their silence honoring the 17 people who lost their lives at Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida. Once we have walked for 17 minutes, we will re-enter the building and go to lunch or recess. Students may bring signs to carry during this walkout, but signs must not contain profanity and must contain messages connected to the theme of gun violence in schools. Appropriate signs may positively call for action, but may not be offensive or insulting to anyone. Because we are walking out of class silently to call attention to this matter, students who violate our norms of silence to honor those who have been lost will be considered to have walked out against the rules and will be consequenced as such. Students who believe they will not be able to stay quiet will be asked to remain behind in rooms 103 or 122.

Separately, for those of you who are planning to attend the March for our Lives on Saturday, March 24, we are planning a Morey contingent in the March. We will provide details later, but students, families, and teachers will be invited to meet at Morey prior to the March 24 march and to walk to the event together. If you are planning to attend the March, we invite you to join us.

Please take some time over the next day and a half to discuss this issues with your children and to help ensure they understand the gravity of these 17 minutes on Wednesday.

Principal Noah Tonk

What Makes Morey Special?