Stone Creek arrives in Avon |

Stone Creek arrives in Avon

Preston Utley/Daily file photoBerit Frischholz, 4, enjoys her ice cream during an ice cream social for Stone Creek Elementary charter school parents, teachers and students at Nottingham Park in Avon.

AVON – Despite the cloudy, rainy day, parents, children and teachers of the new Stone Creek Elementary charter school showed up in force at a recent ice cream social at Nottingham Park. As the drops started to fall, the adults huddled under the deck’s roof, while the more resilient kids continued to munch on their ice cream cones under the drizzle. “It was great to see some new faces for the first time, but most of us knew who would be going,” said Arch Wright, whose eldest child will attend Stone Creek in September, while a younger pair of twins will have to wait another year to go to school. “They’re an exceptional, passionate group of people with lots of positive energy.”Though shaky in the past, plans for Stone Creek are being firmed up. The school building is scheduled to arrive Monday, staff is wrapping up registration and everyone is tying up loose ends in preparation for the beginning of the school year. “We are definitely getting up there,” Principal Betsy Hill said. “We’re really coming together. It’s, like, organized.”

Wright wasn’t the only one who knew most of the people at the ice cream social. Most attendees didn’t seem to need introductions. They’ve been working so long to get the school off the ground that they’re already friends. Their children already know each other too.”Parent involvement is huge,” said Carol Coudouy, whose son Felix, 7, will go to the charter school. “School doesn’t just stop once the kids leave school. There’s homework, making sure they’re prepared – there’s always extra things you need to be doing to make the day successful. ‘Whereas in the public school system,’ she said, “you don’t have a lot of parent involvement.”Many students entering the school were on the wait list at Eagle County Charter Academy. “I couldn’t afford the cost of private schools, and I wasn’t comfortable with the religious affiliation of the other private schools,” Coudouy said. The Wrights, who have a child entering first grade, were previously at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School. “We were happy,” Wright said. “We just think this is a little better fit for us.”Kevin Croner said he was happy with the education his daughter Morgan, 7, was getting at Eagle Valley Elementary School, but thought a charter school would offer her more.

More involvement from parents and being able to chime in themselves also attracted teachers from public schools around the county, especially Meadow Mountain and Avon elementary schools.”I think there will be a lot of shared decision making, which there wasn’t at Meadow Mountain,” said fifth-grade teacher Jen Gutmann, who taught at Meadow Mountain for two and a half years and was named Rookie of the Year by the Eagle County school district. “I know I’m going to have a huge support system behind me all the way. That feels good.”The partnerships will help parents feel connected to their kids and the community, said third-grade teacher Alison Hainline, who previously taught at Meadow Mountain and said it wasn’t a “good fit” for her. “There isn’t the bureaucracy of a large school,” Principal Hill said. “We can create something really special here.”Gutmann, who hopes one day to be a principal, said watching and helping a school take off from the ground floor will be an invaluable experience.

Croner said he’s looking forward to getting more art, music and wellness education. While the school won’t have physical education classes, it will devote the last half hour of each day to yoga, hiking or other activities. “Public schools call them ‘specials,'” he said. “Here, they’re not special, they’re part of the core curriculum. It’s all part of broadening out and getting a good liberal arts education to get a better rounded child.””I’m hoping they’ll be getting a whole lot of solid support for their self esteem,” Wright added. “But Leslie and I also chose Stone Creek because of the sound, proven core curriculum. It seems to be very effective.”A full day of art education drew art teacher Lynne Perry from Meadow Mountain, where she could only work as a part-time teacher. “I loved the value and the appreciation of the arts and of creativity at Stone Creek. In the Eagle County school district, sometimes, I just didn’t feel like that because of the pressures from the administration’s implementation of the TAP,” she said, referring to the Teacher Advancement Program. “Here was a chance of contributing my value of creativity and growth within kids without sort of being held back.”Stone Creek is going to be a really positive force in the community,” she said. “This is offering us the opportunity to be the teachers that we want to be.”Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or Vail, Colorado

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