Looking Back

acs el tioga lunch clean up

Who needs a kitchen?

A few excerpts from “The Aspen Community School: Community, Individualism, and the Process of Change” A Research Project Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Education, Regis University, April 1996, by Virginia Newton.

Yes, I was like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, I needed a graduate degree to show that I had could think. I had young children who attended the Early Childhood Center, and was on the Board of Compass, so I was spending a lot of time on the mesa anyway. It made sense to focus my thesis on the Aspen Community School. Since then, my association with the Aspen Community School has been the best gift any Wizard could have bestowed!

acs el tioga lunch clean up

Sometimes the activity moves outside, as here for El Tioga lunch clean up.

Dusty, bumpy, at times muddy and jarring, the road leads from the valley floor to the expansive views on top of the mesa. Once parked, one must negotiate more dust or mud to arrive at the school door, which often swings out wildly just as one is about to pull it open, followed by a blur of running, talking children.

…Inside, voices of children, the pounding of feet running up and down stairs, the voices of adults all intermingle within the large central area of the school. Everything seems to be a little messy, and it is hard to tell who, or what, belongs where. Students appear in all areas of the building. They are in the front office and the assistant principal’s office which are both open desk areas on either side of the large central area. Students are in the principal’s office, a more proper space with a door. Students are in classrooms also, with an assorted collection of tables, chairs, couches, and book shelves.

….The Aspen Community School in Woody Creek, Colorado, founded in 1970, grew out of the dissatisfaction many people had with United States schooling so prevalent in the 1960s. The first year of the school, chronicled in part by Sylvia Ashton Warner in her book, Spearpoint (1972), was tumultuous. From this somewhat confusing beginning, a school culture has emerged that is decidedly nontraditional, but one where the teachers and the parents are more sure of their role and purpose in the education of children.

I’ll say! Some things, like the voices of parents, teachers and children intermingled in the central area, will never change. But the confidence with which teachers and parents work together, under the leadership of Jim, has only grown since 1996!

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