Our 1st 4-day week was packed!~September 14, 2019

With our new calendar giving us every other Friday off and short Fridays in between, our days are longer and more packed than ever. Our teachers are doing a wonderful job embracing the longer days and filling them with lots of high quality instruction and learning experiences. Part of attending CES is taking our learning outside the four walls of the school building and getting out in the community as much as we can to learn what our state standards guide from experts in Canon City and all around Colorado. But even with all of those wonderful field trips, there are so many more meaningful learning experiences taking place every single day inside the four walls of CES!

Working on our SEL with Miss Emily

We are lucky to have Mrs. Emily Cornella here at CES who is our School Health Professional (SHP). She comes to each classroom once a week to teach a lesson in Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Her lessons include topics like embracing your uniqueness, making healthy choices, friendship/relationships, and dealing with anxiety. Another wonderful thing about Mrs. Cornella’s lessons are the opportunities kids have to develop positive relationships with each other and with her. She has become yet another trusted adult they can talk to when they are having some troubles or just need someone to talk to. Her classes are fun, engaging, and filled with great information. Thank you Miss Emily!

Learning Outside the 4 Walls


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This last week two of our communities had wonderful educational experiences outside the four walls of our building. Our Trailblazers took a trip to Leadville where they visited the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum and the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel and Treatment Plant. At the Leadville Treatment Plant, they were led in a tour by CCHS alum Janelle Stefanic who is the Water Treatment Supervisor. They learned terms like reclamation,  electrocoagulation, nanofiltration, and mitigation. They learned how the plant is able to take contaminated water that runs through old mines, remove lead, maganize, iron, and zinc and return the clean water to the Arkansas River. The Rangers traveled to Colorado Springs to the Bear Creek Nature Preserve where they learned about insects as part of their Conceptual Unit. They also experienced interactive hands on exhibits, observed wildlife, and hiked. We are so thankful that our school district and our PTO make these types of extensions of our classrooms possible!

Nature, Inquiry, and Blended Learning

More nature learning was happening right here at school this week. Mrs. Hartmans’ class was buzzing with learning about an unusual critter called a mudskipper. I was quite impressed to see how independently these 1st and 2nd graders were working using an Inquiry model and incorporating Blended Learning. They spent some time observing the mudskippers that are living in Mrs. Hartman’s classroom and are affectionately known as Cupcake and Cookie. They were taking notes in their notebooks, filled out graphic organizers, conducted online research, engaged in collaborative discussions, and used their multiple intelligences as they became experts on mudskippers. Such great learning!!

Boxtops for Education App

Are you looking for an easy way to help out our school? Download the Boxtops for Education App and earn money for us with things you buy everyday. No more clipping. No more sending Box Tops to school. All you need is your phone. Download the ALL-NEW Box Tops app, shop as you normally would, then simply scan your store receipts to find participating products. The app will automatically credit our school’s Box Tops earnings online if you choose Canon Exploratory School. Each box top equals 10 cents which add up quickly and they sometime offer specials that give us even more money. Here is the link or go to the App store on your phone. Box Tops for Education

Thank you for reading! Until next week,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

A Quiet Week~August 6, 2019

Camp Jackson 2019

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As I write this I am sitting on the porch of the Jackson Lodge at the YMCA camp called Camp Jackson. We are on the side of the mountain and my view faces east where we can see the lights of Pueblo at night. There is a group of students about 20 yards from me watching two of their classmates make their way to the top of a telephone pole and are hollering up words of encouragement. This camp is located about 2 miles south of Lake San Isabel. It’s a beautiful location where you feel like you’re on the top of the world, the breeze whistles through the pines and aspens, you occasionally see wild turkeys and deer, and the birds sing happily. We began the tradition of bringing our middle school students here the very first year we had 7th graders and have found it to be invaluable to developing our school climate and becoming the family that we value as a unique feature of being a “Trailblazer”. I was the teacher then and brought 2 groups of students as middle school teacher and have now come up as principal 3 times. One of the things I love most about Camp Jackson is getting to know the kids and observe them in a very different environment than school. They seem to let down their defenses and open up more. They sing silly songs with one another, encourage each other to take on the challenges of rock climbing and high ropes, work collaboratively to problem solve low ropes, move out of the comfort zone in a variety of ways, and humble themselves to serve each other. Not only do we get to have two days in some of the most beautiful country in Colorado, we get to grow and learn together. Thank you Mr. Ben and Ms. Emily for going with us and a big thank you to Mr. Omer and Mrs. Reed to taking on this big task and providing such a great experience for our Trailblazers. You rock!

Should we reward or not?

Since it was a quiet week and I don’t have much to share about  things that happened here at CES, I thought I would share with you a blog that was recently shared with me. Ms. Janitell, our music teacher, has a friend who writes a wonderful blog. This post is directed more to teachers but I think it offers some good advice for parents too–especially parents of Explorers. I hope you find it interesting. Here is the link: When I stopped rewarding my students

Have a great weekend! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Chromebooks and Culture~August 30, 2019

This has been a great couple of weeks and we all feel like we’ve gotten off the new school year to a wonderful start. Now that we have two full 5 day weeks under our belts, don’t forget that beginning next week we embark on our new hybrid schedule. Of course, we have Monday off due to Labor Day but then Friday is our first Early Release day. Students will be dismissed at 1:15 after lunch is served. The following Friday, the 13th, there will be no school and that rotation continues until the end of the year.

Chromebooks are here!

On Monday of this week, we had our first roll out of Chromebooks to CES. This year our middle school students and our 5th/6th grade classes all receive them. This is a district wide initiative so this year all of the students at CCHS and all of the middle schools now have Chromebooks in their hands. Next year our elementary students will receive them as well. We have, as you probably know, been “1:1” at CES since we opened in 2012 but our students have been working on netbooks and HP Streams. Chromebooks are more durable and easier for students to care for and access. Additionally, much of our curriculum resources will now only be available via their device. All of this provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to hone their Personal Responsibility as they care for and use their Chromebooks and online resources. We know this will also lead to more development of their 21st Century learning skills and assist them as they work on their projects.

Developing our Culture

We spend a lot of time focusing on our culture here at CES especially at the beginning of the school year. All classrooms spend some time helping students to identify their quality world so they and their teachers know what motivates their choices and their learning. Above, you can see some pictures of the visual representations that we see around our building and that coordinate with their conceptual units. Also this week we had our Culture Night for new and newer families to CES. Staff members led sessions teaching parents about our school culture, Explorations, Multiple Intelligences, and the Overindulged Child. We had a great turn out and, I think, all of the parents left with their brains very full of useful information to help them and their children succeed in their school careers.

Developing our MI

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Each of our communities develop an MI Mash focus for the quarter or the semester and students participate in a variety of learning opportunities during their weekly MI Mash time. This week our Adventurers kicked off MI Mash with a surprise donut party. Students rotated through donut themed centers each with a different MI focus: Bodily/Kinesthetic, Inter/Intrapersonal, Logical/Mathematical, and Music/Art. While all that donut fun was going on, the Voyagers were painting a few more benches in the back of the building and showing off their Art Smarts while beautifying our school.

Thank you for reading and for all of your support! 

Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

A Terrific First Week!~August 23, 2019

1st Day of School!


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We are off to a great start! It kind of seems like we never left. It was so exciting to see all our kids including many new faces. Here’s to a great school year!

Meet Mrs. Montoya



Mrs. Chalea Montoya is coming to us from McKinley and will be teaching 5th/6th in the Wanderers community. She has a beautiful family of six: four children, Ace who is in 7th grade, Piper who is 6th, Asher in 4th, and Monroe in 2nd–along with her husband Chris. Mrs. Montoya previously taught kindergarten for 4 years but she has experience with older students as she did her student teaching with me in 5th grade while she was pregnant with Ace. Not only is she a great teacher, she is a beast! I mean that in a the most positive way. Mrs. Montoya is a Cross Fit champ, marathoner, and amazing athlete. She has fit in wonderfully with her Wanderers team. We wish her all of the best and give her a big welcome to CES!!

Little Scouts are now officially Big Kinders!

This week was a big one for our kindergartners who we call Little Scouts. Bright smiley, sometimes excited and sometimes scared little faces came to school for the first time. They began their week with a staggered start just coming for half days to ease into this new routine. Thursday was their first full day where they experienced the lunch room and recess together for the first time. Already by Friday we saw a big improvement in their quick learning of the pin numbers and understanding the routine. There were very few tears even though they worked hard on these long hot days. This is such an important year for them and they are the best hands with their teachers Mrs. Rivera and Mrs. Bradley.

Another Successful Classroom Night!

Classroom Night was Thursday and we had a great turn out! 85% of our families came to hear their children’s teachers share the expectations and plans for the year. They were also able to enjoy some ice cream in the Compass Cafe’ and get to know our SMARTs teachers better. Thank you to all who came and to our amazing staff that gave their evening to help our families be successful in this coming school year.


One of my favorite things to see in our school is our big buddies working with our littles especially when it’s middle school and kindergarten. Seeing these kids who are taller than me showing such kindness, compassion, and care for our littlest students is a beautiful thing to see. On Friday, they spent time teaching our Little Scouts how to be safe on the playground, how to use the library, and how to get around the school in a respectful way. One thing that results from this is that our big kids become invested in the littles encouraging them, protecting them, and having a reason to be good role models. As one of our middle school parents, Wanda O’Dell,  said, “I think it nurtures a side to our teens that is need in our society. I feel blessed that Jayden gets to show a gentle, kind side and it’s encouraged for him to do so.” I couldn’t agree more!

Thank you for reading. Until next time…

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Prepping for a Great New Year~Aug. 16, 2019

Back to School for Educators

The first day of school for teachers was Monday where we started with our annual District Kick-Off at CCHS. All staff in our district come together to hear a common message, meet new staff, and find inspiration. This year we heard from our Superintendent, George Welsh, our Assistant Superintendent, Adam Hartman, and Canon City School Board member, Shad Johnson. They shared the new mission, vision, and Core Beliefs of Canon City Schools and the direction we are heading. I have been in the district for over 25 years and I can tell you I’ve never been so excited about the future of this district! I love that we have developed four Core Beliefs that guide our work. CES’s UIP (Unified Improvement Plan) was written for this year centered on the 4 Core Beliefs of the District. The UIP is a guiding document for our plan for continued improvement and growth. Below, I’m including the one-pager of our UIP that is a snapshot of the bigger document. I provide this for teachers so that they can easily  be reminded of the goals for this year.

Screenshot 2019-08-18 at 11.41.41 AM

Our school district’s new mission statement reads:

The Canon City School District is future focused, providing innovative educational opportunities to successfully prepare all students to meet any challenge they may face.

Our district has also adopted Traits and Skills that we believe are important in an innovative educational environment and life. Throughout the year, in this blog, I will bring awareness to how CES is providing opportunities for our students to develop these skills and traits. Take a look at them below and see if you can identify some ways your children have already been developing these here at CES.

TRAIT: A personal quality that can be influenced or developed over time. 

Trait Defined Level Observable Look-Fors By Educational Levels
Knowledge Acquiring understanding through experience or learning. K-5 Students demonstrate an understanding of content and concepts. 
6-8 Students demonstrate and apply an understanding of content and concepts.
9-12 Students demonstrate proficiency in content and concepts on a range of assessments and apply it to real life scenarios.
Innovation Creating and adapting behavior that is fueled by curiosity. K-5 Students  demonstrate curiosity and creativity.
6-8 Students take ideas and new thinking to create something new
9-12 Students apply all traits and skills in the creation of something new.
Tenacity Persisting without exception. K-5 Students consistently put forth their best effort.
6-8 Students persevere even in difficult situations.
Agency  Acting independently, with calculated purpose, courage, and power.                                                                             K-5 Students consistently demonstrate personal responsibility.
6-8 Students consistently demonstrate skills necessary to act with purpose. 
Agility Learning from experience and adapt to new situations. K-5 Students reflect upon and be flexible in their actions and choices. 
6-8 Students reflect upon experiences to adapt to different situations.
Civility  Valuing personal identity and beliefs while honoring those of others. K-5 Students treat themselves and others with respect. 
6-8 Students identify their core values while treating others with empathy.
Integrity Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.   K-5 Students choose right over wrong.
6-8 Students demonstrate independence while making choices for the betterment of all.


SKILL: A useful ability acquired through guided practice. 

Skill Defined Level Observable Look-Fors By Educational Levels
Collaboration Working effectively with others, assuming shared responsibility, and valuing individual contributions. K-5 Students work productively with others while sharing responsibility for specific tasks being accomplished.
6-8 Students work effectively with others, share responsibility, and value individual contributions.
Communication Articulating thoughts and ideas through various means and listening effectively to decipher messages. K-5 Students actively listen and communicate effectively.
6-8 Students advocate for personal needs and listen to the needs of others. 
Solution Seeking Asking significant questions that clarify needs and lead to desired objectives. K-5 Students ask questions to develop and extend understanding to propose solutions.
6-8 Students analyze needs, ask questions, test possibilities, draw conclusions and propose unique solutions to challenges. 
Contribution Enacting a set of intentional strategies designed to accomplish goals and contribute value.  K-5 Students provide input for the benefit of others.
6-8 Students actively engage to achieve a common goal.
Reflection  Evaluating practices and experiences to gain awareness of thinking and learning. K-5 Students evaluate learning experiences with the purpose of improving overall performance. 
6-8 Students accept personal, teacher, and peer feedback to further develop skills and knowledge.
Empowerment Taking charge of your own circumstance through trait and skill development, and by being personally vested in the results. K-5 Students take ownership of their learning experience and the overall product. 
6-8 Students display the confidence to take risks, choose their actions and make decisions.
Leadership Accomplishing goals by building strong relationships, communicating effectively, and modeling expectations. K-5 Students demonstrate personal responsibility and value the strengths in others to increase teamwork.  
6-8 Students model expectations to empower others and increase interdependence. 


We are all excited about a great year ahead!

Teachers are Learners Too!

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All day Wednesday, CES teachers were able to continue to improve their Choice Theory (CT) knowledge with our school’s founder Molly Merry. We had a great day learning some strategies to use CT in our day-to-day life in school.  After all, CT is something we live not just do. We recognize that the language and actions of Choice Theory may look different depending on the developmental age of kids, and we also have learned that our teachers are working at different developmental levels too depending on their experience and time spent.  Choice Theory is so important to the foundation of the Exploratory model that we are dedicated to continue to devote time throughout the year adding to our skill set.  We will continue to work  with Molly and on our own to build our capacity to facilitate Choice Theory with our students and with our parents.

On Thursday, elementary teachers spent their morning learning about 6-step Phonics and the Traits and Skills. Middle School teachers worked on getting familiar with their new curriculum resources, and SMARTs teachers met in their content teams with other district staff.

Teachers were able to spend a good chunk of Thursday and all of Friday working in their rooms to get ready for tomorrow. We’re all excited to get kids back in the building!

Our Caring Kids


Last week Erin and Ryan Sallie, Jocelyn Raymer, and Breesyn and Lili Sutton gave up some of their last precious moments of summer to have a lemonade stand at the Splash Park and raised $41 to donate to CES to help other students who might need a little extra to pay for their tech or trips. They also donated a beautiful brand new backpack. How awesome is that?!

Thoughts from Molly…


As the new school year begins it is important to remember that CES has a strong school culture based on William Glasser’s Choice Theory.  A school culture is very different from a school or classroom behavior management program.  Management is a process of controlling student behavior through rules imposed upon them.  Culture is a way of being, an expected set of attitudes and behavior that are motivated internally by a desire to succeed.  Management=controlled by someone else.  Culture=self monitoring and control.  Everyone at CES is part of the school culture; all staff, all students, and all parents.

All of CES is dedicated to helping students make healthy choices for relationships, learning, and responsibility.  Everyone on the CES staff understands the importance of modeling a culture that is collaborative and supportive.  Support does not mean rescuing, it means reassuring students that they can develop skills to solve and prevent problems. It means asking questions, not giving answers.  Growing up is not an easy journey but a school that is nurturing through the inevitable challenges and frustrations is a significant part of any childhood.  Support helps prepare children for the challenges of adulthood.      

At a traditional school, there may be separation of teachers and other staff. At CES every adult in the building is a teacher reinforcing student goals and growth by modeling positive attitudes, hard work, and strong relationships.  CES encourages parents to learn and understand Choice Theory and become part of a team.  When parents, students, and staff at CES work together it greatly enhances student learning and growth.  

~Molly Merry

Thanks for reading! Here’s to a great year ahead!

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Almost ready for a new year! ~Aug. 2, 2019

School’s out for Summer? Not for everyone!


CES Custodians: David Davids, Alan Hook, and Brian Salameno

School may be out for students and teachers but the work goes on for our maintenance and custodial crews. We didn’t get much done here at CES this summer in terms of big projects, but our custodians worked diligently through the summer to get our building deep cleaned for the new school year. We did get some new carpet in my office, the GATE room, Mrs. Hamilton’s office, and our Story Pit in the Library. We also were equipped with a new Blue Light Alarm system which is a nice upgrade for our Fire and Lock Down drills and events.

In addition, and most exciting (for me at least), we replaced our old decrepit marquee with a brand new one feels more like it belongs to the Exploratory School. Thank you PTO for this generous gift!!

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We also added two compasses to the front entrance–school beautification continues!

New Start and End Times and New Calendar

analogue classic clock clock face

With our new calendar, the start and end times for our school day have changed. Our K-6 students start school at 8:00 and go home at 3:15. Our 7th and 8th graders start at 7:45 and go home at 3:10. Early Release Fridays start at the regular time and end at 1:15 and 1:10 (lunch is served on ER Fridays). We have two half days–the first and last day of school. On those half days, we release at 12:00 and lunch is not served. You should have received a magnet at registration for your refrigerator with our calendar so you keep all of those Fridays straight. If not, you can come by the school to pick up the magnet.


All School “Remind”–Please sign up!


I promise it will help! I just send out things that apply to the whole school. These are different than what your classroom teacher might send out if he or she is using the Remind App too. If you were a part of my group last year, you will still need to go through this sign up again because I start all over every year since our some of our families leave us. It’s easy! Just text @979fc6 to the number 81010. You won’t regret it! Thank you!

We’ll See You Soon!

First day of School is Aug. 19th–dismissal is 12:00. First full day of school is Aug. 20th. Classroom night is Aug. 22nd and Culture Night for new families is Aug. 29th.

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

It’s come to an end!~May 26, 2019

Multiple Intelligences through the summer…..

by Molly Merry, Madison/CES founder


Summer is a wonderful time for kids to grow and learn. Through the summer, parents can keep your kids connected to how they are using their intelligences:

*Body Smart—outside playing, doing chores, hiking, just being physical

*Nature Smart—whenever they are outside paying attention to nature, feeling the wind, temperature changes, shadows, longer days, stars, the moon, plants, animals, rocks, bodies of water—it is all around them

*Art Smart—sensitivity to the visual world through nature or cultural experiences, shapes, textures, colors, darks and lights, close and distance perspective, nuance in the visual world

*Word Smart—keep reading anything and everything, discuss new words to expand their vocabulary, be aware of place names, read maps and signs

*Number Smart—let your kids be aware of everyday math: the cost of filling up the car, distances, prices for food and lodging or tickets for events

*Interpersonal—keep using Choice Theory language, teach manners and role model positive interactions and problem solving with others

*Intrapersonal—give kids time to reflect on experiences and become aware of their emotional reactions to experiences, help them learn identifying language (tired, frustrated, nervous, anxious, bored, impatient, excited) and coping strategies to develop ways of dealing with all kinds of emotions

*Music Smart—encourage listening to music and finding rhythms, listen to the sounds in nature, attend music/dance/theater events


And best of all, connect the intelligences—grow vocabulary while listening to music through lyrics, grow body smart by tapping out rhythms to music, grow word smart reading signs and having kids describe what they see in new places.

You get the idea!  Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. Please continue that role because your child is soaking in learning all the time!  Limit time on devices and remember the power of personal interaction outside of the virtual world.

Nutrition Class from Wellness


We had a record number of students and families participate in our last nutrition class. 35 students and several parents joined us for an afternoon of fun. Way to go, Voyagers! We learned how to make delicious nutritious snacks for summer: strawberry/blueberry ladybugs, fruit pizzas, and watermelon slushies. The slushies were a huge hit and were so easy ~ just watermelon, ice, and a little water! We experimented adding blueberries, bananas, and strawberries as well. Thank you to the teachers and parents who helped out!

Animoto: 4thQuarter Fun: highlights from our final quarter

Animotos from 1st-3rd Quarter: Check out the rest of the year’s highlight’s


Staff “Talent”

Click on the link below to see our fun staff video we created for the Variety Show. We got to use the green screen and take advantage of being in costume on Barnyard Day. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot making this video. Thank you Mrs. McLaughlin for putting it all together and to Ms. Janitell for the idea.

On the CES Farm


I will continue to publish this blog over the summer although it won’t be weekly. Thank you for a great year! I hope you all have a wonderful summer!

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

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