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Crestone Charter School

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Thank you, Crestone Charter School families and volunteers!

June 2017

The Crestone Charter School is so proud of the way that our families, community members, and teachers work together to weave a unique and wonderful learning experience for our children! CCS would like to extend its sincere gratitude to all of the families and community members who decided to get involved as volunteers during the 2016-17 school year.


Our volunteers contribute in so many ways: helping students in the classroom, keeping the campus clean, providing food for fundraisers and other events, chaperoning school learning adventures, and so much more.

scottvolunteer nickjessikavolunteer

Together, we set a new record of 1,796 recorded volunteer hours for the school year...and this doesn’t even include all of the “unofficial” volunteer activities that went unrecorded! So we have a lot to be proud of, and a very strong foundation of community support to keep building on. Although we can’t possibly thank each and every person who made a positive contribution this year, we would like to give special recognition to our top five volunteers: Vesper Gers, Mary Benavidez, Carl Cole, Wade Propst, and Hillary Semanski. Together, they generously gave hundreds of hours of their personal time so that our students would have opportunities to travel with their classes, participate in sports, ski and snowboard, excel in their academic work, and more. Thank you for all you do!  



Celebrating CCS's Tradition of Spring Travel Learning

June 2017


The Crestone Charter School is celebrating the completion of another amazing year of learning, discovery, and adventure! As always, CCS students, teachers, and families culminated their school year by traveling around the state, the country and the world. Travel learning and outdoor education are integral parts of the CCS experience; These are among the most powerful tools we have for opening the world of possibilities for our children, teaching self-reliance, and building the bonds of lasting friendship. Traditionally, our youngest students start small by participating in overnight trips around Southern Colorado. Our middle schoolers get to visit parts of the country they might not otherwise have gotten to experience. And our high school students have the unforgettable experience of international travel.

In May, our Early Elementary class took a trip to the magnificent Royal Gorge, just outside of Canyon City, Colorado. Highlights included an educational train ride through the gorge and a day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The cool and rainy spring weather wasn’t enough to dampen the students’ spirits!

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Elementary students in second and third grade headed south to Albuquerque for three exciting days of learning and fun. First they visited Explora, a hands-on science center full of opportunities for creativity and discovery. Next came a visit to the Albuquerque Biological Park, which features a world-class conservation zoo, botanical park, and aquarium. Students learned all about their favorite animals and sea creatures, as well as the importance of preserving the natural habitats of endangered species around the world, and even right here in Colorado.

Intermediate students in fourth and fifth grade participated in their annual BioRegional Camping Loop, visiting a variety of cultural and natural sites in and around the San Luis Valley. This trip gave students a great opportunity to practice cooperation and teamwork as they camped and traveled together. Highlights of this year's adventure included climbing our continent’s highest sand dune, exploring Penitente Canyon, going subterranean at the Creede Mining Museum and, of course, the final stop at Hooper Pool for some experiential immersion (pun intended) in geothermal hydrology!

The CCS middle school class took an ambitious ten day road trip through South Dakota, visiting a number of unforgettable historical, cultural, and geological destinations. Highlights included visits to Mt. Rushmore, Badlands National Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Along the way they visited the Reptile Gardens, the Journey Museum, and explored the Mammoth dig site, which provided a unique window into the Pleistocene era. They even managed to squeeze in a night at the theater in Rapid City. Teachers TJ Walling and Audrey McDowall made sure that students learned as much as they could during their trip, with plenty of opportunities for reflection and interactive learning packets. “I think when we had these interactives I absorbed so much more information and understood the content better and more fully,” reported Rosie Catinella, a 7th grader. Sixth grader Rasalas Wickett agreed: “There wasn’t a day on this trip that I didn’t learn something new. In fact, most of the days, I learned more things than I could count!”

But for many middle schoolers, the real highlight of the trip was the time they got to spend back at the cabin, hanging out with friends. “We got to do a lot of bonding,” says seventh grader Justice D’Allesio. “I feel a lot more comfortable being myself around my peers.”


“The trip knit me closer together with my classmates, and was a great experience to pull the school year together,” said Kaelen Hollyer.

CCS high school students spend two beautiful weeks in Costa Rica, where they explored the rainforest, immersed themselves in local culture, and participated in service learning projects. The centerpiece of the trip was a four-day stay at the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve in Santa Elena, where students stayed with local families and got involved in meaningful volunteer work building and improving trails and helping with local reforestation efforts.  But it wasn’t all hard work...students also had time to hike, take in the amazing views, discover local animals including sloths, monkeys and red-eyed tree frogs, and hang out in town. According to sophomore Sabian Storm, staying with local families really added to the experience. “We were treated like family. The woman who hosted my group really took care of us and made sure we were comfortable and well-fed. It was an experience we never could have gotten by staying in a hotel or some other tourist spot.”


Other trip highlights included a boat tour through the mangrove forest at La Ensenada Lodge, an exhilarating zipline adventure, guided night hikes through the rainforest, a visit to La Fortuna Waterfall, and cooking classes where they learned how to make tortillas and tamales, Costa Rican-style.

Here at the Crestone Charter School we are so lucky and grateful to have the kind of loving, dedicated teachers who are willing to put in all the extra effort it takes to make unique learning experiences like these happen for our children. And on that note, we would like to extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to our teachers Lyndsay Duebber, Ryan Johns, and Emily Donaldson, who will be leaving us for new opportunities and adventures. We wish you all the best!




Outdoor Education at the Crestone Charter School

April 2017


During the cold month of February, Crestone Charter School students and teachers took the opportunity to escape from our frigid winter weather, and headed for southern Arizona’s beautiful Sonoran Desert to participate in the 2017 Winter Count primitive skills camp. Winter Count is an annual gathering that draws instructors and students together from all over the continent to share their enthusiasm and knowledge of skills including archery, hide tanning, fire making, flintknapping, camp cooking, and much more.  

Andre Claudio, a CCS sophomore, explains what a typical day at Winter Count looks like: “First thing in the morning, one of the camp leaders walks around the camp playing a flute to get us all out of our tents. Then we join all the other participants for a shared breakfast. The food was superb, by the way.  Some time after breakfast, all of the mentors would stand up on ladders and shout out the skills and classes they were offering that day. Knifeblade forging, archery, didgeridoo making, flintknapping, gourd crafts, wire-wrapped jewelry making, stone carving, and of course all kinds of primitive skills like firemaking and hide tanning were just some of the things we could pick. It was hard to choose. We could pick two workshops each day, with a lunch break in between. We’d have some time to hang out before sharing an amazing dinner with about 600 other people. It felt like a big family. At the end of the day we would relax around the fire with lots of singing, dancing, and sharing. It really was an amazing experience.”

      For CCS’s fifth grade students, Winter Count’s most memorable learning experiences included developing their tracking skills, learning to make moose calls, creating art mandalas with natural objects, nighttime scorpion hunting with black lights, working together to successfully start a fire using a hand drill (just like our paleolithic ancestors did thousands of years ago), and making their own bows and arrows. Ziah Knight-Pesqueira, a fifth grader, reflects on his time at the archery range: “It was so much fun...One day I got 17 bullseyes, and the day before that I practiced throwing a long range atlatl (a stick with notch on it that you use to throw a small spear). I threw the atlatl 254 feet!”

      “Winter Count was amazing,” reflects Gabe England. “I was really sad when we left. It was a lot of fun and I hope we get to go again next year.”

CCS Recieves 2017 Colorado Centers for Excellence Award
March 2017
We are proud to announce that the Crestone Charter School is a recipient of this year’s Colorado Centers of Excellence Award. With this award, the Colorado Department of Education recognizes CCS for demonstrating the highest rates of student longitudinal growth, as measured by the Colorado Growth Model!

A Look at the Crestone Charter School’s Ski and Snowboard Mentorship Program

March 2017

CCSstudents One of the Crestone Charter School’s most long-standing and revered traditions is its winter ski and snowboard mentorship program. Every Friday during the winter months, CCS students in grades 4 through 12 arrive at school early in the morning, geared up for a full day of Colorado winter fun. Then students, teachers, and parent volunteers caravan up to Monarch Mountain, one of the most beautiful, affordable, and kid-friendly ski resorts in the Rockies. For many children, the chance to participate in the ski and snowboard mentorship program is one of the best reasons to be a CCS student. But it’s not all just fun and every aspect of CCS’s experiential education, the program offers unique educational and character-building opportunities.
Learning to ski or snowboard under the guidance of a good mentor is a powerful way for students to develop self confidence, as well as a virtue that CCS teachers like to call grit: the ability to overcome challenges with determination and perseverance. Learning to ski down a mountain requires students to literally pick themselves up and try again (and again and again). As sixth grader Caroline Anderson says, “It’s all about learning to let go of your mistakes and keep trying. It’s a great life lesson.” For a fourth grader on skis for the first time, it can feel like learning to walk all over again. But with a little bit of grit, students quickly find themselves soaring like eagles. And there is no limit to how much they can learn and grow. The burst of self confidence that students experience when they learn to ride a ski lift and cruise down the slope for the first time is truly precious and transformative. Raven Willis, seventh grade, explains that CCS students are not skiing and snowboarding just for the fun of it: “We’re learning how to recognize our personal limits, and then slowly and safely push through them.”
For high school students, a big part of the program is about developing leadership skills. Many high school students have earned the right to become ski or snowboard mentors. As mentors, they become responsible for teaching younger children and keeping their group safe. As seventh grader Ayla Tieder remarks, “We’re learning how important it is to stick together and encourage each other.” Mentors understand that it’s not just about being a great skier or snowboarder. Being a leader requires them to develop their communication skills, pay close attention to the needs of their followers, and demonstrate a high level of personal integrity so they can gain the trust of the younger students who look up to them.  High school students are always surprised by how rewarding it is to mentor younger kids. And the younger ones love the care and attention they get from their older role models. It’s a beautiful shared experience that brings the whole school together.
In addition to building self confidence, grit, and leadership skills, CCS’s ski and snowboard mentorship program fosters a deep love of nature and a personal dedication to living a healthy outdoor lifestyle. “I love this program!” says Michael Rogers, a fourth grader who skied for the first time this winter. “I want to do this for the rest of my life!”

Non-Graded System

Instruction at CCS is Non-graded in that our students do not receive traditional letter grades throughout their tenure.  Our students are assessed in a variety of ways so that we know their current skills and knowledge and what is needed for next steps. The school has adopted competency-based assessment tools where students proficiency is evaluated in relation to specific academic and non-academic learning targets. Our students learn a sense of inner drive and self-evaluation through out their time at CCS. The practice of giving students grades can disarm the development of the learning process. The teacher’s role is to help students learn how to know when things are completed, how to judge the quality of their work, and to validate when student self-assessment is accurate.

At CCS we give feedback and use a number of evaluation methods to help students and parents understand how they are doing in school. Individualized Learning Plans, parent/student conferences, student projects, performances and regular quizzes, tests and informal assessments provide a spectrum of feedback on student achievement.

Regular, formative assessments (tests following a chapter in Mathematics or Spanish Language, for example) help to understand a student’s progress across the given curriculum are an expectation of instruction at CCS. Formative assessments are not used as a competitive tool, and are never used to rank students or make those who achieve below the norm feel unsuccessful.

We also participate in district and state mandated standardized assessments, including:

  • TCAP (Transitional Colorado Assessment Program)
  • NWEA (The Northwest Evaluation Association)
  • ACT Explore and Plan Academic Assessment Tests for grades 9 and 10
  • SAT - College Entrance Examination
  • PSAT (For Juniors, qualifies students for the National Merit Scholarship)
  • DIBELS Reading Progress Monitoring grades K-3

At the beginning of the school year, following an initial assessment period, students, parents and teachers will meet to make an Individual Learning Plan for each student. The plan will include specific academic goals based on previously acquired test data, or if this is not available for a new student entering the program, the initial first weeks’ in class will allow the teacher the chance to conduct assessments and help guide the student towards significant, achievable goals for the remainder of the semester.

In-class tests, projects and student work will develop a body of evidence that supports student achievement towards their specific goals. If a student is not making progress towards goals in their learning plan, teachers will change the learning plan in consultation with the student. At the end of each semester, teachers will discuss with parents and students at their conference, the progress the student is making toward the accomplishment of his/her goals, and refine the Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) for the next semester. A written record of this conference is made and kept in the student’s records. These written records constitute a student’s enhanced transcript, which is routinely accepted by other schools and by colleges.


Early Elementary Description

Classroom Description

BFF Class PhotoThis class is the first experience that a child will receive at the Crestone Charter School. It is here that students will begin their reading, writing, math, and social skills, as well as, body awareness and outdoor education. The approach to learning here is based on a community of learners that will use respect and kindness as the building blocks to help each other find the highest good. Much of what students learn here will serve them well as they navigate their way through life. Each child will explore what it means to try their best and join in group activities, as they feel comfortable. The goal here is to allow each child to gain self confidence, feel compassion for their neighbors, and explore their individual talents and gifts.

Standards for Teacher Performance

It is assumed that all of the following behaviors will be performed in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual support among the staff and in full partnership with the school's administration. It is also to be understood that, where applicable, the following standards will be adhered to by mentors, volunteers and ancillary personnel, including parents, who are involved in in- or out of class activities.

Standards for Teacher Performances [PDF file] 158 KB






Teachers will attempt to foresee unsafe conditions in all activities and make every effort to mitigate those conditions.

Teachers will not speak to students in a derogatory, humiliating, or defaming way in the effort to control student behavior.

Teachers will exercise discipline procedures in their classrooms only after insuring that students understand the rules and standards to be used, and with clear instruction regarding what the appropriate behavior is with respect to any potential sanction.

Teachers will make every effort to mitigate abusive and threatening behavior of students toward their classmates, and will be able to demonstrate that efforts to promote cooperative, supportive and caring relationships among the students is an essential curricular element.

Teachers will identify unsafe facility and environmental factors at the school and bring these factors to the attention of administration in order to have them corrected as quickly as possible.

Teachers will identify students who may be facing emotional stresses which are diminishing their ability to cope with social or academic demands.  Such students will be discussed at the staff's periodic Case Study meetings with the option of engaging parents in discussion about the situation.

Teachers will adhere to agreed upon standards regarding adult/student ratios on excursions, field trips and other away-from-school activities. Younger students require a lower chaperone-student ratio than older students to insure safety on field trips. Higher risk activities such as multi-day back-country camping treks may require a lower chaperone-to-student ratio to safely undertake than a lunch excursion to the town park.

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Teachers will make every effort to differentiate instruction in their classes according to the assessed needs and abilities of the students.  Such differentiation will be based on clear assessments made by observation, demonstrations, and/or the use of measurement instruments.  In addition, such assessments will be used in forming ILPs for each student.

Teachers may provide homework for students that is based on current children's programs, and such homework will be reviewed in class with the students within a reasonable time frame from when it was assigned.

Teachers will discuss with their classes the standards and expectations that will be held for various activities with the intention of attempting to ensure that students understand what is expected of them and the methods by which they can fulfill those expectations.

Teachers will make every effort to ensure that parents are informed about long-range projects that students are expected to work on out of school, and that parents, where appropriate, will be given suggestions as to how to best assist their children in completing such projects successfully.

Teachers will be expected to help students clarify not only the end result expected in performing their work, but also to help them assess their progress toward those results, especially on projects or tasks that are extended over time.

Teachers will be expected to demonstrate and clarify, in writing, the curricular relevance of field trips, excursions and extended study trips.  Such demonstration will include the goals of the event, its connection to in-class activities, and the expected learning outcomes for students.  There will be an assessment component to all such activities.  The teaching staff and Director will, working together, create efficient and useful instruments for accomplishing this standard.

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Teachers will be expected to develop methods for using parents volunteers in classrooms, conditioned by any training or instruction that may be needed to assist parents in performing such functions well.

Teachers will develop methods for insuring communication to the parents of their students regarding classroom goals, expectations, progress and programs.

Teachers will develop methods that insure that parents feel welcomed to visit the school and classrooms, under appropriate conditions, and parents wishing to visit the school will understand what's expected of them during such visits.

Teachers will be expected to respond appropriately and in a timely way to parent requests for information, meetings or assessment of their children.  Wherever reasonable and necessary, the Director will assist both teachers and parents in fulfilling this standard.

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This is a Test Article


CCS Mission

The mission of the Crestone Charter School is to provide a stimulating experiential program that nurtures each student’s sense of wonder and natural desire to learn, in a creatively structured atmosphere, emphasizing academic excellence and uniqueness of character. We strive to inspire healthy responsibility in relationship with self, community and environment, both locally and globally.

The scope of the Crestone Charter School shall include, but not be limited to, the following objectives:

  • To offer an innovative educational program of academic excellence that integrates body, mind, emotions and spirit;

  • To provide a learning environment that encourages self-esteem, and respects the experiences, talents and uniqueness of every student;

  • To prepare each student to be a life-long learner through relevant education;

  • To prepare each student to find his/her place in the context  of human history and to comprehend the challenges we all face in a world in transition;

  • To insure mastery of basic skills in literacy, numeracy and artistry that meet or exceed the state content standards;

  • To develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, collaborative skills, and a sense of community responsibility;

  • To use the natural environment as a classroom to foster appreciation for our ecosystem and the Earth as a whole;

  • To engage the united efforts of parents, teachers, students and community members in the educational process and school governance;

  • To participate in the nationwide effort to reform public education.






School Counselor 

Crestone Charter School seeks an inspired and highly qualified licensed School Counselor with Master’s degree to work and deliver services to our K-12 student population of approximately 80 students.


2-3 Teacher

Our new teacher forges strong mentor relationships with students.

Our new teacher teaches Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.

Our new teacher provides strong early literacy education and interventions.

Our new teacher is well versed in differentiated instruction and is passionate about meeting

each student’s needs.

Our new teacher is comfortable teaching outdoor education.