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Welcome From the Director

There are so many things that make Crestone, and the Crestone Charter School, so unique. Having worked here, and enrolled my two children here, from 2003-2011 was my introduction to both. Having traveled the world as a family and as an educator has given me further perspective as to just how special Crestone and CCS are. Read the mission and you will see the way academic instruction is woven into the education of the whole child, how experiences are used to make connections between ourselves and the people and the world around us, how the growth of the mind evolves along with the exploration of character. 

It takes a village to raise a child. At the Crestone Charter School, our devoted community and staff nurture students to develop at the level of the whole person. A proficiency-based learning model provides students with a strong academic base, yet true education encompasses more. From its inception, the Crestone Charter School has sought out staff with diverse teaching experiences, but who are also dedicated to thinking outside the box and paying attention. We have thus created unique educational  programs, such as our travel and ski initiatives, without losing the commitment to academics that gave our school the John Irwin Award for Excellence.

A student-centered environment at the Crestone Charter School means that learning is meaningful, and students may choose to learn based on their interests. Thus, students are a crucial part of creating and meeting educational goals. They are also committed to one another. As a rural school with multi-age classrooms, we are small enough that students can have distinct relationships across age groups. This has lead to our older students looking out for younger students and supporting their academic and social progress, and our younger students thriving in a community where they are encouraged to ask questions and to seek out help.

As a school that thinks outside the box, we value experiential education and learning-through-doing. Whether it is studying culinary arts, picking apples in the community garden, or studying culture in India, or Brazil, the Crestone Charter School has its attention on the whole child. Through a dedicated cadre of parent volunteers and community mentors, we are able to offer students a wide variety of electives to participate in, from cello, to bel canto to equine education. Students also engage in nearly every level of school life, including sitting in on hiring committees, participating in discussions on academic content, and helping to plan school trips.

Educating the whole child necessitates, in our view, a healthy understanding of conflict and how to engage it in a functional way. We thus have designed a restorative practices program that focuses on community involvement in meeting the challenges of conflict and on repairing harm in the event of differences, rather than on a punitive response. Our founders hoped to create an innovative school that met the needs of a group of rural students with academic excellence and real-life intrigue. Since 1996, our school continues in its original tradition and has expanded, as our founders envisioned.

In an evolving Covid world, we strive for in-person instruction and to provide students with experiences to reconnect with peers and the natural environment, while maintaining a focus is on social re-adjustments and emotional well-being. In an increasingly polarized world, we seek to broaden perspectives and nurture diversity, equity, and inclusion through communication, awareness of our own biases, and systemic reorganization. We intend to inspire crital thinkers, problem solvers, and collaborators.

If this appeals to you, give us a call at 719-256-4907 to learn more. We look forward to your visit.


Thomas Cleary

Director, CCS

Special Thanks to Marie-Louise Baker, outgoing director, for much of this text.

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