Our History

Our Founder

Thomas Tillapaugh

Thomas Tillapaugh

Founder and Former President

Tom Tillapaugh served as the founder and administrator of the Denver Street School System and President of the StreetSchool Network™ from its inception until 2020. An educator with a heart for the inner-city, he spent more than thirty years sharing the Street School Model. During that time, he has not only offered hundreds of Denver’s inner-city kids a second chance to earn their diplomas but has helped to start Street Schools all over the nation.

In the summer of 1996, Tillapaugh saw a decade-long dream come true as StreetSchool Network held its first annual conference in Seattle, WA. Tom received his Master’s from Oral Roberts University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from American Pathways University in 2008. He was in the pursuit of a doctoral degree in school administration from the University of Denver at the time of his Homecoming.

Tillapaugh was a frequent speaker and guest at White House summits and policy briefings on the dropout epidemic. In Colorado, he served on congressman Bob Bepreauz’s Education Committee, had been nominated to Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who among American Teachers and received the Teacher Who Makes A Difference Award from NewsCenter 4 and The Rocky Mountain News. Additionally, the Street School Movement has been featured in Education Week, Newsweek, Philanthropy Journal and the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Education Innovator. Tom is survived by his bride Yvonne Tillapaugh and their four children: Cherie, Rebecca, Rick, and Neil. They also have nine beautiful grandchildren. 

Tom is deeply missed here at the StreetSchool Network. To read more about his inspiring life’s work, click here.