STEM school founders launching new project

Alexandria program seen as `capstone'

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The founders of Highlands Ranch's STEM School and Academy are holding a series of informational meetings about a planned new sixth- through 12th-grade charter school. The proposed Alexandria School of Innovation will be, one founder believes, the culmination of all they've done so far.

“We believe this is our capstone project,” Judy Brannberg said. “We're taking all the information we learned and gleaned from the past 15 years in our experience with starting charter schools. This is our best project ever, a collection of all the ideas we have about education.”

They aim to open for the 2015-16 academic year, adding grades to eventually offer all grades from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

A site for the new school hasn't yet been established, though Brannberg said they have focused their search on northern Highlands Ranch and eastern Douglas County.

The school's charter application will be submitted to the Douglas County Board of Education in late August or early September, she said.

Brannberg and her husband Barry, who founded the STEM School that opened in August 2011, no longer are affiliated with the Highlands Ranch school. But they're using what they learned through that and other endeavors to create Alexandria.

“It's not a replication of STEM,” Brannberg said. “This is brand-new. The whole focus is innovation.”

The school is named after Alexandria, Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great and once the largest and most prosperous city in the world. It was a magnet for scholars, scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, artists and historians.

In addition to emphasizing the four major components of a STEM school — science, technology, engineering and math — the Alexandria School of Innovation will include the arts and athletics.

Teachers will use a combination of instructional techniques.

“You can't just put kids in front of a computer and say, `Let's solve a problem or do a project,'” Brannberg said. “You have to have some direction as well. You have to balance inquiry-based learning with direct instruction, a little bit of the old and new together.”

Students also will learn about entrepreneurship.

“We want every student to know how to open their own business,” Brannberg said. “That's what really makes America unique.”

Engineering will be taught to students at every grade level.

Parents also will be expected to participate in their children's education.

Construction plans call for an open design, free of hallways.

“It's going to be an amazing school,” Brannberg said. “We're looking for a funder, a philanthropic family, right now to help us.”

For more information, visit www.alexandriak12.org.

Alexandria School of Innovation community meetings

July 8, 7 p.m.

Lone Tree Library, 8827 Lone Tree Parkway, Lone Tree

July 14, 7:30 p.m.

Southglenn Library, 6972 S. Vine St., Centennial

July 21, 7 p.m.

Columbine Library, 7706 W. Bowles Ave., Jefferson County

July 22, 7 p.m.

Roxborough Library, 8357 N. Rampart Range Rd., Douglas County

July 27, 3 p.m.

Parker Library, 10851 S. Crossroads Drive, Parker

July 30, 7 p.m.

James H. LaRue Library, 9292 S. Ridgeline Blvd., Highlands Ranch