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Colorado League of Charter Schools Awards Top Leaders from Across the State

Friday, March 20, 2020  
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Hall of Fame winners celebrated for excellence in education and advocacy by the Colorado League of Charter Schools


Denver, Colo. (March 19, 2020) – Six Colorado charter school individuals were recognized today as the best in Colorado for their excellence in education and advocacy at the Colorado League of Charter Schools Annual Conference. The Colorado Charter Schools Hall of Fame winners are exceptional leaders designated across six award categories and the winners are thoughtfully selected by a panel of League staff. These individuals were selected as a result of their excellence in education and advocacy within their school communities.

“The League is proud of all the charter school leaders and staff who impact the charter school movement,” said Colorado League of Charter Schools Vice President of Communications, Peter Mason. “We are also proud to celebrate the outstanding Hall of Fame winners this year who have been recognized as the best of the best by charter school leaders, advocates and supporters. We are also honored to award the Lifetime Achievement award to a renowned education advocate and pioneer, Jonathan Berg.”  


The 2020 Colorado Charter Schools Hall of Fame winners are:

  • Advocate of the Year: Sabrina Suarez (New Legacy Charter School, Aurora)

  • Charter School Authorizer Award: Dr. Chris Fiedler (School District 27J, Brighton)

  • Charter School Educator of the Year: Alexa Brooks (SkyView Academy, Highlands Ranch)

  • Charter School Leader of the Year: Katie Gustafson (Flagstaff Academy, Longmont)

  • Most Valuable Charter Contributor: Dan Sherrill (Caprock Academy, Grand Junction)

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Jonathan Berg (James Irwin Charter Schools)


Advocate of the Year: Sabrina Suarez

Sabrina is a former student at New Legacy Charter School and was instrumental in defeating House Bill 19-1190 in March of 2019. The Bill would have stripped mill levy equalization funding from CSI schools and Sabrina advocated to ensure that Bill wasn’t passed. She delivered a personal and inspiring testimony with composure and patience. Due to the powerful testimony of Sabrina and others, the bill was defeated 12-1. Sabrina is an unwavering, effective advocate for school choice in our community and has demonstrated significant influence in the public policy arena.


Charter School Authorizer Award: Dr. Chris Fiedler

Dr. Fiedler has led the School District 27J and its Board of Directors to support and effectively partner with charter schools in an effort to provide the best education for all children. He has gone above and beyond as an advocate for all charters in the district. Under his leadership, the school district has offered special education support and training, professional development and Infinite Campus access for teachers, psychologists, therapists and administrators. Dr. Fiedler has prioritized communication of all charter boards to ensure cohesive interaction regarding key issues that are best for all students in School District 27J and beyond.  


Charter School Educator of the Year: Alexa Brooks

As a passionate English teacher, Alexa Brooks is always trying new ways to ensure her students meaningfully engage with classics and develop confidence as writers. She has masterfully married rigorous academics with challenging and authentic experiential learning that requires her students to step outside of their comfort zone and realize their untapped potential. Her students find purpose in their work and her focus on their well-being means they leave her class mentally, academically and emotional healthier. Over 85% of her students grow in measures of well-being and 90% in measures of SEL and workforce skills. Alexa’s work in Big Idea Project’s curriculum has directly impacted over 1,300 students in two years at SkyView Academy. She has helped train 80 new teachers in coaching skills and how to incorporate mindfulness and well-being techniques in the classroom. She is described by her peers as “passionate, sacrificial, and the kind of innovator every school wants and every student needs.”


Charter School Leader of the Year: Katie Gustafson

Katie Gustafson is an experienced teacher and proud principal at Flagstaff Academy’s Middle School. During her time leading Flagstaff Academy, Katie has developed a whole child and leadership approach for students to help prepare them for high school and beyond. In June 2019, Flagstaff Academy was the first charter school in the State of Colorado to receive the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education (CAMLE) Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch award and the subsequent National School to Watch designation from the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Katie's leadership and dedication to children has opened the door for future charter public schools to receive recognition and meet the rigorous standards of these awards and, in so doing, provide top quality educational and developmental programs for students to succeed now and in the future.


Most Valuable Charter Contributor: Dan Sherrill

Dan Sherrill is an original founder of Caprock Academy and has been an advocate from day one. In his 12 years of business and operations management at Caprock Academy, he has been a steady presence throughout the Colorado Charter Sector. His expertise in finance, facilities, and operations has made Caprock into one of the most successful and operationally sound charters in the state. He shares his vast charter operations and school finance expertise freely and never hesitates to offer support and partnership to other charters. This has been especially impactful since operating a school on the Western Slope comes with unique challenges and few experienced leaders to lean on. Dan is a continued source of expertise for educational choice and consistently represents what Caprock Academy was founded on. 


Lifetime Achievement Award: Jonathan Berg

Jonathan Berg was a founding board member of James Irwin Charter High School before being hired as the first school principal. He led the way to open the James Irwin Charter middle school and elementary school. Jonathan has mentored many other charter school leaders over the years. He led the way by example showing outstanding character, hard work, and determination, often sacrificing personal time to insure school successes. He is a founder of several school organizations, from the now Vanguard School to the James Irwin schools. His vision for achievement, equity, and accessibility have transformed the educational landscape in Colorado. He has been an steadfast advocate to many Charter Schools throughout the state.