What services do you offer?
Our main service is our micro school, which families can participate in 1-3 days/week during the school year.
We also offer curriculum consulting and independent instruction year-round. Additionally, as we become more established we plan to facilitate parent groups, park days, book clubs, enrichment classes, and other special events throughout the year.
Are you a private school?
We are a homeschool hybrid, also referred to as an independent school. We fall under both private school and homeschool laws.
We are classified as a 501(c)(3).
What grades do you offer and how many students are there in each learning cohort?
For the 2021-22 school year, our enrollment for each day is about 28 elementary students split into a primary and intermediate cohort and 16 middle school students. Students are paired with a learning guide (teacher) and assistant learning guide that works with them during the duration of their years in each cohort. This allows the learning guide and student to build rapport and a strong working relationship. We will add middle school programming as our students grow.
Why are there mixed-age cohorts instead of grades?
There are many benefits to learning in a mixed-age group. We believe that in mixed-age groups students can share their strengths and improve their weaknesses in unique ways. It also allows for students with similar interests to collaborate regardless of their “grade level.”
Click here to read an account of the benefits of mixed-age classes written by one of our mentors, Anne, who is the director of Highlands Micro School in Denver.
Where are you located?
We are located in beautiful southwest Black Forest with lots of nature for kids to explore!
What are school hours/days?
We offer options for students to participate 1 – 3 days/week. School hours are 8:45-3:00. There are additional family field trips scheduled on our off-days or weekends so that everyone in the family can join in.
Does Ascend Micro School follow a specific educational philosophy?
While specific educational philosophies (like Charlotte Mason, classical, traditional, unit study approach, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, etc.) work well for many students and families, we want to be flexible in our philosophy. We incorporate the best aspects of various philosophies to meet our students’ needs.
What curriculum do you follow?
We utilize a variety of curriculums in order to meet the needs of the diverse learners we serve. For example, some students may master mathematical concepts best using technology while others may need more tactile tools like Spielgaben. We invite students to be co-architects of their learning.
Our “curriculum” focuses on place-based education, which is creating real-world projects and becoming involved in our community as a catalyst for learning. See below for details on this model. We follow a mastery approach, which is supported by current educational research. Science is addressed by asking questions and answering them through hands-on experiments. We spend the first hour of the school day gathered around the table for morning meeting, read-alouds, writing, and discussions of the great books and poetry we are reading. And last but certainly not least, students develop their social-emotional skills, a critical part of any school, through intentional discussion as well as organic interactions with classmates.
Are you a faith-based program?
Yes. We believe that we are all called to serve our Creator and our community. Education is meant to be a powerful tool to equip us to serve both in powerful ways. We use the Heartwork school curriculum to learn about generosity, hospitality, and service and dreaming up ways to use our gifts to make an impact in the community. We aim to find tangible ways to serve others in the Pikes Peak area. We do not have a specific Bible class, but the Bible and Christian literature are included in our curriculum. We believe that the family and church are the two most important entities in a child’s spiritual upbringing. Therefore, we do not teach specific doctrine or denominations, but approach everything with a Christian worldview. Our approach involves learning about the big picture of the Gospel so we can learn why and how we serve others. For a more detailed explanation, you can read this blog post.
What kind of learners are a good fit for this school?
Learners that are curious and eager will do best in our environment. That being said, we believe that all children are curious and can thrive with us. The beauty of a micro school is that students are part of a vibrant learning community pursuing common goals while receiving the individualized instruction they need to thrive.
Is there homework?
Depending on the number of days your child is attending, they will have to do a certain amount of homeschooling work at home to meet the time requirements of the CDE. We are happy to meet with you and develop an educational plan for the days your child is not in attendance with us. We send ideas home for every student in language arts, math, and unit study, but families are welcome to plan their homeschooling days. Students are welcome to dive deeper into work we are doing if they choose.
What support is provided for families at home?
We use four primary tools to help your homeschool life. First, MasteryTrack (see below) helps us keep track of where each child is in their educational journey. Second, Seesaw is used to share what skills we are working on with your child, ideas for you to incorporate those skills in your homeschool, and photos and videos of your learner at school. These suggestions are optional, but super helpful! Third, our Take Home Folders contain optional work that your child can do to practice the skills we cover at school. Finally, our Facebook Group has resources, webinars, and more!
Our learning guides are also available before and after school to discuss student progress and provide mentorship.
How is student work graded?
We work flexibly with families based on the grading system that they feel comfortable with. That being said, we believe in a mastery-based approach as well as giving students the freedom to fail. Some of the greatest growth comes from many failed attempts before success occurs, and we want to facilitate that process. Students collaborate with their teachers to develop their individualized learning plans and set goals for themselves.
We use MasteryTrack, a robust, mastery-based progress tool to keep track of where students are, where they are headed, and the growth they are making along the way.
What is place-based education?
According to the website Promise of Place, “place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community.”
For a more detailed description, check out these resources: http://www.gettingsmart.com/categories/series/place-based-education/
How are my child’s individual needs met?
We meet with each child and their family often to determine the needs they have and what they want us to cover in their time with us. Given the extremely low student to teacher ratio, individual needs are easier to meet. Teachers know the strengths and needs of each student and use that knowledge to create personalized learning plans.
We work with your family to address the academic needs you have for your child. If you prefer to do mathematics at home, we can work on other skills instead. That goes for most subjects!
Do you use technology? To what extent?
We use technology in the following ways:
- Individualized instruction
- A learning tool (appropriate video clips, digital presentation of material if necessary)
- Other creative uses
We believe technology can be a powerful tool if harnessed in meaningful ways, but we do default to hands-on learning.
Why is there such a strong focus on service learning?
We believe that all children deserve the chance to do meaningful work. Children ages 5-12 are in the industry vs. inferiority stage, where industry and purpose creates positive psychosocial development in the child. (For more information, research Erik Erikson.)
There is so much to be gained from using their skills to make an impact in the lives of others. We hope to partner with each family in our quest to empower young people to use their gifts to create positive change in our community and world.
What type of service-learning opportunities do students take part in?
The answer to this question varies based on student interest and curricular goals. Some ideas are gardening, visiting the elderly, age-appropriate service projects, and even some fundraising for nonprofits. In recent years we have helped at a fundraiser for a school in South Africa and created an original musical to perform to raise money for Casa Angelina in Guatemala! We find community partnerships based on our students.
Do you offer services for students with special needs?
Due to our small staff and small school, we are unable to provide services to students with significant special needs. That being said, our director is a gifted intervention specialist and has experience working with gifted and twice-exceptional learners as well as students with mild learning challenges such as ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, OCD, etc. We also believe that simply being in a micro school environment can provide effective intervention for these types of learning challenges. We are happy to talk with families to determine if our school can fit your child’s needs.
If you’ve stuck with us to the end of this long FAQ page and think we could be a good fit for your child(ren), contact us today!