Denver church plans to stand in solidarity with teachers during strike

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DENVER -- A local church describes its decision to support the Denver Public Schools teacher strike as something larger than the community and a tribute to history.

"Our founder walked out of a white Methodist church because they were mistreated, so it was the beginning of the protest movement, and so this is fitting today that we support teachers," said Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor Timothy Tyler.

In addition to the protest, Pastor Tyler says the church has special ties to DPS, as it was built on land the church bought from the district.

The teacher strike is scheduled to begin Monday after the negotiations over the past 15 months failed.

All classes plan to function normally, with the exception of early childhood education programs, which will be closed. That leaves parents of those 3- and 4-year-old students in a bind.

DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova acknowledged this weekend that Monday might be strange for both teachers and students.

"It's not going to be a normal day," she said.

Columbine Elementary teacher Anna Wallenkamp attended Shorter Community AME Church's Sunday service, saying she's grateful for the show of solidarity.

"It fills your heart to know people are going above and beyond to support you and stand with you," she said, despite being "really heartbroken to not see my students tomorrow and to not know how long it will be."

Pastor Tyler said the church plans to donate money that will keep teachers on their feet throughout the strike. Beyond that, he said he will lean on what he knows best.

"My prayer is that the DPS leadership will solve this quickly so that everyone can get back to the work of educating our children," Pastor Tyler said.

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