Posted August 3, 2012
AcademyACL uses a lottery process in February of each year for enrollment applications that we receive for the following school year. That enrollment window opens in November, so from November to February we take applications and then use the lottery system to prioritize the enrollment openings, with siblings of current students and the children of staff members given priority seating. Our application is a request for enrollment, and once the lottery has occurred, new requests are entered in the order they are received to the bottom of any waiting list. Once there is an opening for a child who is on a waiting list, we contact the parents to see if they are still interested, ask to confirm several details, and we also submit a request for records to the previous school. Those records from previous schools can take a while to arrive, particularly during the summer hours. When we receive records, we review the details from the previous school for a variety of items such as accommodations that the previous school may have used, discipline records, report cards, whether or not the student has been recommended for promotion to next grade, et cetera. Any time we have questions we are happy to talk with parents and previous school officials to clarify the details, as we believe that each child needs to find that right placement that will help him or her to continue to grow and learn in the best way possible.
The school is designed specifically for gifted and talented students. We have Twice Exceptional students--it is inevitable if you have a target population of gifted students--but the school does not specifically target 2E students. The design of the school incorporates a teaching methodology designed to support children with learning and attention issues. Gifted children have five oversensitivies, which often manifest themselves in poor executive functioning. The school works diligently to provide tailored curriculum and provide accommodation for differentiated instruction and to address attention issues. The only criticism is that executive functioning is expected in the upper divisions (grades 5/6 and 7/8), but there is no organized program for teaching executive functioning. Children are held accountable for poor executive functioning, but that is not the same as teaching it.
My 2x exceptional (gifted/autism) 5 y.o. attends AACL, and his teachers the E.C. team are AMAZING! Others have written of the academic wonders at AACL. It's true! My son receives ample support, while being challenged to grow. His peers are generous and kind. Older kids guide, mentor, and engage him in after school enrichment. They seem to understand him in a way that even I do not. 3 weeks in, my VERY shy son sang a solo for class! In just 5 weeks, every adult from custodian to office staff to upper division teachers and aids knows him by name. I know AACL isn't for every kid, but almost every school would have been wrong for mine; yet here, he's home. Re: required volunteerism, I love it! I've worked in public schools for years, and while I've heard a lot of griping about uninvolved parents, I've also seen teachers and admins get grouchy when parents actually try to be involved. Not here. I feel better than welcome; I feel APPRECIATED for sending emails, asking questions, & making requests. AACL values my input as the person who knows my son best. They WANT to know what I know and share with me what they observe and experience as they teach my son!
I am impressed with how well the school views each child as an individual, allowing them to excel and be challenged at their level. This environment truly empowers the students to excel at a rate unlike a standard schools. The staff communication and genuine interest in our children's success if phenomenal. We are continually impressed with the staff, as well as the families who attend.
AACL has been the best fit for my girls who have been to 2 other schools. They let every child explore their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. Every child is valued and parents are an integral part of the learning process. Teachers are good at communicating with parents, forming a partnership for the betterment of the child. If your child is a fast learner, needs an accelerated pace curriculum and just plain loves to learn, this is the place for them!
We love AACL! It has been a great place for our kids to grow and learn.
Defiantly hands down the best school my kids have ever been in. Geared more towards the students needs and learning speed. Teachers and staff are not there "just for the paycheck". They all genuinely care and know every student by name! We absolutely love Academy ACL and are so happy to have found it!
Academy ACL is the only school in the Colorado Springs area to specialize in educating Gifted and Twice Exceptional Learners (2E). As the school completes it's third year of operation, the school is looking to build on the strong foundation that has been laid and is working on the future needs of ALL of it's students and faculty. Involvement is needed in many areas to do research, visit other schools, as part of smaller groups interested in the long term strategic growth of the academy. The Director of the school is very proactive in making the Academy not only a great school, but a wonderful resource for all of the Pikes Peak region in the areas of Gifted and 2E education. The other administrators (2) and Office staff (2) are very professional and work very hard to make Academy ACL a safe and nurturing place for our children to learn. The teachers at the academy are wonderful and portray their labor of LOVE everyday with their pupils and care for them as if the kids were their own. I was amazed recently to find out the Academy does all of this GREAT work with only a third of the funding received by other district schools. Without a doubt Academy ACL is a GREAT SCHOOL!
We came from a school in a well-touted district in Colorado Springs that is a "test" school and keeps kids in the same box with curriculum. That doesn't seem to work with high ability/gifted children as they need to stretch their brains a bit more. We decided to go against the flow of our neighborhood and take the steps needed to switch schools as our kids were showing us they needed more in-depth education and being with others that were a lot like them. Our kids are now doing so much more than we ever expected with Academy ACL. Our kids are happy to work on so many interesting projects and have educational goals with their teachers that they don't have to "wait until everyone else is there", they can actually "Do!" We are so happy! We see the love-of-learning coming back to our kids and they are able to do the advanced curriculm they need and in an environment that cares. Thank you so much Academy ACL....we are so lucky to be part of such an outstanding and loving school. We could give another outstanding review on just the Director.....she is simply amazing and very involved.
AACL has been a fantastic school for my children. The fast pace of instruction, integration between specials and academics, and especially the ability tracking for math and language arts have kept both of my kids engaged and loving school. The level of parent involvement is fantastic, and the frequent conferences allow parents to have a good understanding of their child's strengths and struggles.
The review from January 30th is interesting. The school has been working hard to address the distinct needs of our middle school students. There are a lot of leadership projects and opportunities for the upper division designed specifically to address their different needs as middle school students. We have core academic issues we are working to address, which frankly are a lot more critical than talking to children about "sex, drugs and rock and roll." Personally, I have children in elementary grades, and I am already talking to them about drugs, smoking, and sex (at an appropriate level for their ages). So I am not counting on the school to be the main source of information on these topics. I am much more worried about the school addressing their academic needs in writing, math and science than in teaching them how to be adolescents. I think a strength of the school is in NOT having the strange, artificial environment of a middle school where all those hormones are running rampant with little guidance. Instead, at this school, students are part of a community where the 7/8 graders take roles of responsibility in helping the younger students.
As a parent, I feel that the responsibility for the knowledge of drugs, anatomy, and preparation for high school lies in the hands of their parent. Who better knows their child's level of interest, understanding, and susceptibility in each of those areas? When our children are with their friends, there is an inclination to follow "group think" instead of asking the pertinent questions to help the maturation process. Many of these students grasp matters quickly and desire to go more in-depth, which is better suited to a parent- child discussion. These students will likely only feel uncomfortable if their parents are. If the parents approach the subjects very openly, and keep the lines of communication open, the desired result of knowledge will ultimately be attained. While I support the school whole-heartily, I have no desire to allow the school to be the one to teach them in these matters. It can become a political mess trying to teach to satisfy all manners of thought. I will continue working with my four to teach them what they need to know. This is my job as a parent.
This is the third year of operation for the school and some things seem to have stayed true to the original charter, but some haven't. The students in the upper divisions need to get more of a feeling that they are in middle school (school is k-8). That should involve separate assemblies, health information about the changes they are seeing and feeling with their bodies and to some point the culture of high school. To avoid treating the students as if nothing different is happening within them and around them will only make a student want to explore different areas in high school. They will need to address smoking, drug use, alcohol parties and the one work no one wants to talk about, sex. The type of student at the school is curious by nature and to ignore the temptations that will hit in high school is setting them up for failure. Yes the issues aren't the easiest to talk about, but it is better to talk about them now and not end up with a students or more live the temptation without any knowledge. Where are the life lessons these students will face being taught? Make the changes before your charter renewal comes up next year, before students start to explore drugs, alcohol & sex
Academy ACL has been a life saver for my son. After trying several area schools from K through second grade, we finally found a school where he gets academically challenged and teachers truly care about him. Many of his previous schools had "excellent" ratings, claimed to offer differentiation, but had nothing but a one-size-fits-all approach. My son was bored and very tired of the repetition. He has been in AACL for two years and he is very happy with the school, he is accepted by his peers, and has wonderful teachers. The curriculum and the ability grouping are excellent and not just busy work. Parent involvement is very high and the school support staff and the Director are wonderful. No more being bored. No more having to spend hours after school actually teaching him what he was not being taught at school. I am very pleased with AACL and I wish the school the best as it continues to grow!
I have two children at this school. I was sure the oldest student needed and accelerated, more challenging academic program that was available at our neighborhood school. She was bored, disenchanted, and put aside because other kids in the class moved much more slowly. When AACL opened, we immediately enrolled and have been pleased ever since. The school assesses each child at the beginning of each year, then places students exactly where they need to be for math and reading/language arts. Up a grade, up two grades - what ever they need - regardless of age. Challenging and interesting projects and frequent opportunities to present knowledge in front of peers are unique attributes. The school places great value on PE, free-play, theater, art, and language in addition to core academics - offering every student a place to shine and a place to be challenged. The program is rigorous and not for everyone. Expectations are high and the bar is set appropriately for each child. Classes move quickly to keep pace with students. Behavior and discipline expectations are high as well, and students are held to high standards across the board to insure a high level of education for all.
AACL serves as a beacon of high quality, purposeful and holistic education in a time of darkness and confusion. While the name indicates, and the teachers are trained in Gifted Education, the staff and Director are extremely knowledgeable about supporting the mental, emotional and physical needs of each student. AACL is active in the community and assists K-8 students in improving daily life skills. AACL requires ONLY 15 hours of family volunteer time, per year and makes volunteer opportunities so fun and frequent that more time is easily accrued. Educator, child advocate and parent, I recommend AACL to any family who wishes to see their child succeed in school and build a foundation for a lifetime love of learning!
Watch out !!! We registered our son in May, he was placed in July, and on August 1st (Less that a week before school started) They finally read his records and changed their minds. Now I Have 4 days to find a school for my child.
AACL is really intended for kids that are working grade levels ahead. The school is in its 2nd year of existence and a majority of its students are there because the traditional classroom wasn t working for them. The school does a great job meeting each child where he/she is with ability grouping as kids are placed together for math & language arts by ability and not grade level. Art, Spanish, P.E. and music theatre are incorporated well into the various subjects as well as an individual class. 15 volunteer hours are required for each family and volunteer work seems to be one extreme or the other as either you re struggling to find enough hours or completely overwhelmed. School is definitely not for everyone as it focuses on a small minority of students (which is great for those students) and if considering take a tour and/or have your child visit to see if it s a good fit.
I am not sure about the lower grades but grades 6 and up is awful. The school claims to be a place for 2e kids but it's a down right lie. They even have teachers who are not qualified to be teaching. We will not be returning next year. If they are going to have 2e kids then they need the staff to support it.
Today was my 7th Graders first day back into the public school system after being home schooled. As I impatiently waited throughout the day thinking it was going to be another horrible experience, upon picking her up, she had a smile from ear to ear. She made new friends, ate lunch with friends, and all around had a great first day. Thank You A.A.C.L.!!!
AACL (Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning), hands down, was absolutely the right placement for my daughter. The quality of the staff, the phenomenal tools and methods for teaching, including excellence in differentiation and "fine tuning" along the way made all the difference!
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