CLCS Update - School Visits
Monday, September 16, 2019
Director of Business Services
School Visit Update
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair. The warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air. Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light...
The shimmering lights of the 30 Colorado charter schools that I was privileged to visit this spring and summer. What a joyful example of “choice” these schools bring to their communities across Colorado.
First and foremost, I would like to publicly thank all of the generous leaders who graciously invited me into their school. Some shared their wonderful accomplishments and some shared the painful, difficult, hurdles they face. Thank you, everyone, for your radical candor.
I am grateful to work at the League to have the opportunity to learn more about and meet these self-motivated, entrepreneurial professionals. Many of these schools are deeply entrenched in their communities and it was evident with the community support these schools have.
A few important messages I garnered from these visits is that each school is doing important, meaningful work. In addition, my colleagues and I are passionate about supporting quality choice in education and invite their input and feedback to better assist them in their frontline work delivering these choices.
A few highlights from my visits include:
Swallows Charter Academy (Pueblo)
May 6, 2019
I attended Swallows Charter School’s groundbreaking ceremony in Pueblo to commemorate the new construction for additional classrooms and administrative space. Swallows applied for the BEST grant six times before they received it.
Compass Community Collaborative (Fort Collins)
June 10, 2019
2018-19 was their first operational year. Congratulations! There were many angels that helped get this school launched. Some interesting/fun things I observed included: a conference table made from repurposed basketball court wood, a recording studio, a makerspace where the kids made solar lights and donated them to FoCo (Feed Our Community Ourselves) Cafe. Also, Flynn, is the official school dog!
Global Village Academy (Parker)
June 11, 2019
I learned that students participated in the Chalk Art Festival in Larimer Square on June 1 and 2. There was a map representing the colleges that the Global Village Academy teachers have attended world-wide. Two modulars were delivered to house four additional classrooms on campus. However, they also had to eliminate grades 7 and 8 because they don’t have room. Also, Global Village Academy Douglas County’s middle school students partnered with New Dimension of Hope to raise money to build classrooms in a new school currently under construction in Liberia. A documentary film was made for Netflix (yet to be released) about this project and features GVA students. How exciting!
Juniper Ridge Community School (Grand Junction)
June 13, 2019
Juniper Ridge Community School in Grand Junction was moving. I happened to arrive on one of the moving days. District 50 had issued Certificates of Participation (COPs), purchased land, and financed construction for a new school. It was a busy day! We drove out to the new site which was under construction.
Mesa Valley Community School (Grand Junction)
June 13, 2019
District 50 had issued COPs and was able to purchase and make tenant improvements to the school’s new home. The new space allows for both individualized learning (family rooms — large rooms like conference rooms where the students, parents, and academic advisors can meet) as well as traditional classroom settings, especially for science.
Ross Montessori School (Carbondale)
June 14, 2019
You will find great community involvement at this school including a house on the property that teachers may live in along with an amazing vegetable garden. The outdoor learning opportunities are plentiful. One of the goals of the school is to increase their demographic population to better match the district which will require continued outreach.
Parker Performing Arts School (Parker)
June 17, 2019
It was a busy day the day I arrived for my visit. I was originally supposed to meet with the business manager but met with the assistant principal instead. We talked a lot about the struggles they are having relating to enrollment/space/financial difficulties. These are issues many charter schools face. However, they have an amazing staff, wonderful kids and there was quite a lot of summer school/activity taking place. The performing arts auditorium is obviously their centerpiece and from someone that doesn’t know too much about the “arts,” I was really impressed with the thoughtfulness of the auditorium/dressing rooms/music room, etc.
New Legacy Charter School (Aurora)
June 17, 2019
A new Executive Director took over in the 2018-19 school year. New Legacy Charter School in Aurora is a small school for pregnant/parenting teens and their children; a two generation model. Some facts about the student population: 98% qualified for Free & Reduced Lunch (FRL), a Federal poverty indicator; 70% of the students are Latina and 20% African-American. In addition, 35% of their students have dropped out of high school
Nationally, 40% of teen parents graduate from high school. At New Legacy Charter School, 90% of students graduate from high school! Health and wellness as well as college and career preparation are the focus. The majority of students come from Denver, Adams and Arapahoe counties. Challenges include needing to fundraise a substantial amount of money per year to keep the school running.
Montessori Peaks Academy (Littleton)
June 25, 2019
I spent the majority of time with the school’s business manager. A couple of takeaways from this visit was the school had recently added a beehive and a pollinator garden to the property. Montessori Peaks Academy is also proud of their fundraising.