Granby charter school’s new director looks to redevelop curriculum
GRANBY — Indian Peaks Charter School in Granby will kick off its new school year Sept. 4 and when it does it will have a new director at the helm.
Michigan native Michelle Kennard will take on the role of director at the small charter school following the departure last year of former Indian Peaks Director Allison Beauvais. Kennard comes to Grand County from the Denver area where she spent the last four years as executive director and principal at the Academy of Urban Learning.
Kennard said she and the school’s board of directors have developed a future vision for Indian Peaks that renews focus on the school’s current expeditionary learning program while emphasizing the development of a project-based learning curriculum.
“For the first year, we are really redesigning what we do,” Kennard said. “We are keeping what works and adding some new stuff; really developing a quality program that gives Grand County a real alternative to the traditional schools. Immediately we are going to be much more focused on expeditionary learning.”
The school’s future focus on project-based learning was a point of excitement for Kennard. As she explained, it gives students the opportunity to work with hands-on projects that demonstrate their mastery of content standards through application.
“It is highly engaging and blends well with expeditionary/outdoor learning experiences,” she said.
Kennard said she hopes Indian Peaks can increase enrollment numbers by developing the robust new programs. As of late June, the school’s enrollment figure stands at 22 though Kennard said she expects more enrollments before the new school year begins.
“The goal for the first year is to develop a program that is going to be high quality for the kids,” she said. “After we develop a quality program we can really focus on expanding enrollment.”
Kennard grew up on the shores of the Great Lakes in a family that operated motels on both sides of the Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. After initially preparing for a career in nursing, Kennard decided to change paths and pursued an education degree in college.
Her first foray into the world of teaching was in Los Angeles. Not long after, she moved to Florida’s Gulf Coast where she spent 20 years working as a teacher and administrator south of Tampa. Kennard moved to Colorado in 2010, working as a special education director for Sheridan District Schools in Englewood and as a Special Education Coordinator for Aurora Public Schools before transitioning to the Academy of Urban Learning in 2014. The majority of her 35 years in the education profession has been spent at “at-risk,” Title I and alternative schools, she explained.
Kennard officially became a full-time Grand County resident last week though she has owned a condominium in the Fraser area for several years. She calls Grand County her “happy place” and said she is thoroughly enjoying the recreational opportunities it offers.
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