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Meet Kristina Scala of Aspen Academy in Greenwood Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Scala.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The story of Aspen Academy starts with my 4-year-old daughter and my desire to teach her to read. After touring a school for my daughter and noting incredible difference of the philosophy of the independent school, the school and I were hooked on one another. That evening, I accepted a role administrating that school. That’s when I made the shift from business to the education and creating what I like to call “an education of consequence” as opposed to an education of conformity. What I learned as an administrator in that role strongly influenced our work when we chose to start Aspen Academy. In 2005, Aspen Academy opened with an enrollment of 100 students. Enrollment has steadily climbed at the school, growing from 100 that first year to 400 today.

Beyond our short-term goal for full and diverse enrollment, our vision is to be a national leader in innovative and transformative education. We’re on a quest to ensure students are fluent in coding when they graduate from Aspen Academy, by integrating STEAM into curriculum for K-8th Grade students. In addition to our core educational institution, Aspen is developing intellectual property assets that can be leveraged by other organizations to transform education, from our Aspen Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI) and Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute (AEI) curricula to our Elevate Program supporting student success, to our MODI furniture line. Part of our objectives for these ancillary programs is to create additional revenue streams, allowing Aspen Academy to offer one the lowest tuition rates in the state while continuing to innovate and provide an education of consequence.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We’ve continuously sought curricula that has been established to have the highest standards worldwide. That started early: having read an article about the TIMSS study which noted students in Singapore were excelling in math, I reached out to the Ministry of Education in Singapore to secure that curriculum for our mathematics curriculum. Despite their initial resistance, we persisted and secured the curriculum. Aspen became one of the first schools west of the Mississippi to use Singapore Math.

We’ve persevered through other challenges. In 2008, while seeking bond approval to purchase the campus, the bond market crashed, requiring me and my co-founders to search for financing. After exploring 90 lending institutions, we acquired a loan to cover mortgage payments and achieved profitable year-end performance allowing for savings for the permanent campus.

Since 2005: the original loan has been repaid; the school purchased the campus; Bear’s Student Enterprises student-run businesses have flourished; the school achieved two accreditations; Aspen Youth Leadership Institute and Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute curricula have been created, launched and measured; 300+ graduates have gone on to attend higher educational institutions in and outside the US. Many alumni maintained the socially-responsible businesses they began while at Aspen Academy. True to our vision, Aspen Academy is becoming a national leader in innovative and transformative education.

Please tell us about Aspen Academy.
Aspen Academy is a national leader in education. Through internationally acclaimed academics and the nation’s first integrated Pre-K through 8th-grade leadership and entrepreneurial development program (AEI), our students are empowered to lead purposeful and extraordinary lives. This transformed education model is a paradigm shift in educational delivery. Small classes are led by exceptional, award-winning faculty who provide a foundation of rich academics and a personalized approach to instruction.

-Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute (AEI) is a wholly sequenced, year-long program that develops financial literacy and entrepreneurship in students.
– Aspen Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI) is a comprehensive sequenced leadership curriculum program designed to help re-establish a culture of effective personal and community leadership in America’s youth.
– Bear’s Student Enterprises (BSE), an innovative program in which 8th Grade students lead and operate all ancillary businesses on campus.
-Our MODI furniture line helps students move and discover for improved memory, attention, mood and academic achievement.


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