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Denver micro-school combines academics with hands-on lessons

Embark Education partnered with two North Denver businesses to combine academics with real-world experiences.

DENVER — Two North Denver businesses, Pinwheel Coffee and Framework Cycles, are combining middle school academics with real-world situations.  The business partnered with Embark Education to help seventh and eighth-graders think about how they view the world. 

Credit: Byron Reed

“We’ve chosen those grades because that a time where students are developing,” said Embark Education Director Miguel Gonzalez. “They are starting to pick up their heads and understanding communities around them and how they can actually impact those communities.”

Embark Education is an independent micro-school that teaches students an integrated curriculum of math, English, science, and history with real-world experiences.  The school is in its first year and has an enrollment of 13 students.

Credit: Byron Reed

“I was really interested in having a smaller community because in larger spaces, I can get a bit more stressed out,” said eighth-grader Delaney Nichols. 

“Oftentimes, micro-schools are seen as a throwback to a one-room schoolhouse where you really do have multiple grades together, so seventh and eighth-graders are mixed together,” said Gonzalez. “Students are able to take basic math concepts or something they might learn in humanities and actually apply it to the operations of our businesses and really see it through to fruition.”

Credit: Byron Reed

The students will be getting hands-on experience from the coffee and bike shops with two shifts a week.

“As our students are investigating Latin America, they might be looking at the growing seasons for our coffee beans,” said Gonzalez.  “We will actually buy the coffee beans here in the shop and sell them to the community.”

Erin Breen likes the concept for her son, who has Dyslexia.

“In the past, we’ve felt like he couldn’t keep up in a regular school even though he’s still bright,” said Breen. “Here, he could really be himself and be open to learn and not have to feel ashamed of his Dyslexia.”

“I like how it’s different from other schools and it’s a tight community,” said seventh-grader Oskar Ryan. "It feels like everyone here just wants to be your friend.”

The school doesn’t follow a traditional schedule based on blocks of time, but instead allow students to create their own schedules, so they can choose their own path and follow their passions.

Credit: Byron Reed

“I really like the idea of my individual learning and learning the responsibilities of creating my own schedule and managing my time as well as learning a bit about business,” said Nichols. 

“We really want students to have a voice in their own education and be a part of that decision,” said Gonzalez.

For more information, visit the school website

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