Pagosa Peak Open School to offer enrollment presentations


By Ursala Hudson

Special to The SUN

Pagosa’s new charter school — Pagosa Peak Open School — has scheduled three public presentations during January and February, to allow parents and community members to learn about the enrollment process for this public elementary school.

The presentations are Monday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m.

All three presentations will take place at the Parelli Building, located at 7 Parelli Way, near the Walmart in Aspen Village. Free child care is available and light refreshments will be served.

Due to the unique nature of this public school, it is important to attend a presentation in order to complete your child’s application.

If there are more applications than available spots, then open enrollment will end Feb. 28, and a lottery will be held. Applications must be received by then in order to be eligible for the lottery.

Students who qualify as low-income, English language learners or homeless/migrant status are given an additional entry into the lottery. More information will be given at the community presentations.

This tuition-free pubic school is slated to open in September, serving students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The Jan. 16 presentation will mark the beginning of open enrollment for Archuleta County families. Enrollment packets will be available at each of the presentations and will also be available at the Parelli Corporate Office and at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library beginning Jan. 16.

The public presentations will cover the school’s education model and school features, and will clarify the importance of family involvement within the school culture. The school will include a focus on project-based learning, a flexible school day meant to accommodate working families, and a year-round school calendar that will allow for increased environmental education and a school-managed gardening program.

Students will not receive “letter grades,” but will instead create a permanent “student portfolio” documenting their activities, which will be used to measure each individual student’s growth and achievement.

The school will expand by one grade level each year, with a final goal of serving kindergarten through eighth grade in 2021.

The “open school model” is motivated by the belief that children have a natural desire to learn, and that their curiosity and passion is encouraged when they are provided multiple avenues for accessing the knowledge they need and that interests them. The model generally involves “hands-on” experiences during which the students take responsibility for their own learning and where teachers, in turn, become the learning assistant.

Pagosa Peak Open School will begin hiring staff later in the winter. Teachers at the school must have a college degree, but need not have a teaching certificate. Extensive training in the project-based learning style of education will be provided through the Buck Institute for Education.

For more information, please contact Kierstan Renner at 946-6362 or visit the school website at