Charter Schools: A Matter of Course

Charters provide ways to match ‘philosophical beliefs and values’

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When Christi Granato-Dexter’s son Aiden was saying 100 words at the age of 1, she knew he was learning at a faster rater than his peers.

When it came time to choose a school, she decided on American Academy Charter School in Castle Pines. American Academy offers ability group learning for math, reading and writing. This means students take classes based on skill level rather than all sharing the same classroom by age alone.

“For us, it was an opportunity for Aiden to have his needs met and to be at his school and not in a separate program,” Granato-Dexter said.

The Castle Pines resident and former Douglas County School District teacher at Buffalo Ridge Elementary has two children now at American Academy Charter School. Aiden, 7, is in second grade and daughter Aubrey, 6, is in kindergarten.

“You’re better serving the students rather than having 25 kids in the classroom that have many different levels of ability and trying to meet their needs in all of those subjects,” she said. “It’s just not even humanly possible for one person to meet all of those needs and do it in a seven-hour time frame.”

Board of Education President Meghann Silverthorn said charters offer numerous educational approaches for students without leaving the district.

“Charters offer many ways for families to be involved through volunteerism and fundraising, which can increase the feeling of community in a school environment,” Silverthorn said. “The smaller nature of a charter school administration can mean that a smaller ratio of parents can affect much more visible changes at the school level. Some parents choose charters so that they can have this larger impact on school operations.”

Debbie Rabideau, principal at Renaissance Secondary School in Castle Rock, said the biggest benefit to charter schools are that parents can make educational programming decisions based on their children’s individual needs.

Parents want to be able to guide their child’s education, she said, and when given a chance to choose, they are often more satisfied.

“I have worked as a Douglas County educator for over 20 years. I have worked in neighborhood schools, a magnet school and, now, a charter,”Rabideau said. “I believe the benefit for all parents, students and teachers is that you have the ability to be part of a school community that matches your philosophical beliefs and values.”

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