April 10, 2018
This fall, the much-anticipated Altitude Elementary School will open just blocks from the master-planned community of Southshore at 27300 E. Southshore Drive. Parents of elementary school-aged children have been eagerly looking forward to the first day of school at Altitude, but no one is more enthusiastic than Principal Scott Schleich.
“I’m so excited, I can’t tell you,” Scott Schleich says. “I wish we were open right now!”
The school is currently under construction with exterior stone work to begin soon, and by Mother’s Day, there will be much more to see. But months ago, the impetus for Altitude’s distinctive architectural features, curriculum and staff development was already in place centered around a book called Launch by John Spencer.
An Innovative Approach to Education
Principal Scott Schleich says, “It’s basically a research process of teaching kids how to think – to be more independent thinkers, and it’s a very collaborative process. It’s something we’re going to emphasize in all of our curriculum.”
The Launch approach, explained here in an illustrated video by John Spencer, is also called “design thinking” and has been used in the arts, engineering, in the corporate world and social and civic spaces. Now there’s a student-friendly launch cycle; a creative process that can be incorporated into every class and every grade level.
John Spencer says on The Launch Cycle website, “Something happens in students when they define themselves as makers and inventors and creators. They discover powerful skills—problem-solving, critical thinking, and imagination—that will help them shape the world’s future …our future.”
Collaborative, Inquiry-Based Learning
“On Fridays we’ll do a Genius Hour,” Scott says. “It’s a more inquiry-based learning experience, very hands-on, and kids we’ll be able to self-direct their own learning based on what they’re interested in and passionate about.”
Gone are the days of individual desks in rows. Altitude Elementary School will have tables with five different kinds of seating and team-oriented learning spaces so students can break into groups, and brainstorm.
“I call it the Google-izing of education. You see those folks at Microsoft and Google getting together to collaborate to solve problems and we want to give kids an opportunity to do that,” Scott says.
A Model for the Future
All of the elementary schools in the Cherry Creek School District will be renovated at some point, with the charge of creating more collaborative spaces but Altitude Elementary School will be the first to model the Launch approach for the rest of the district.
“We’re also going to have a Maker Space Garage with a pegboard of tools and not just 3-D printers, but also laser cutters so we can fabricate whatever the kids come up with,” Scott says. “And we’re going to expose them to the patent process and who knows, we may have elementary school children coming up with solutions to bigger kinds of problems that need solving for the rest of us!”
Scott noted he’s particularly proud of the safety enhancements at the school. “We’ll have an additional layer of security at Altitude with automatic doors on silent alarm, so when I hit a button, it will close off the main hallway and all the doors to the classroom pods,” he says. “It may, in fact, be the most secure school ever built, from that standpoint.”
To follow the progress of Altitude Elementary School from now through its opening, visit and follow the school’s Facebook page.
Parents, extended family and the community are all are invited to stop by the next community STEAM night. Scheduled for Tuesday, April 24 at Cherokee Trail High School, 25901 E. Arapahoe Rd., in Aurora, it’s a drop-in event from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
Outstanding Schools near Southshore
Southshore families with school-age children are thrilled to belong to the highly-rated Cherry Creek School District where students perform above average on tests and college readiness metrics. Tour the beautiful selection of model homes from Toll Brothers, Richmond American Homes and Century Communities, each with a variety of styles and floor plans. It’s lakeside living priced from the upper $300s to the $700s!