History of AXIS

The story of AXIS began in 2018

AXIS International Academy and Preschool was founded in 2018 by two local parents who understood the value learning a second (or third) language brings to the life of a child, our community, and our world. They tried other local language learning options, but none met expectations. They were inspired by top-notch international schools they had visited across the world, where students receive an excellent international education through a whole child approach, all while learning a second language through immersion. Many of these schools are private schools, and at $17,000+ per student per year these schools are not an option for most families. They decided all kids deserve an opportunity to receive this type of education, and they set out to create it for their children and their community. 


The AXIS Vision and Mission

Vision: Preparing citizens of character to thrive in their local and global community and in life.
Mission: By advancing academic excellence, cross-cultural competence, multilingualism, and social-emotional and cognitive development, AXIS Colorado and AXIS International Academy and Preschool empowers children to lead choice-filled lives and be thriving citizens of character in their local and global community.

AXIS is an Acronym of Our Priorities

  • A - Academic Excellence
  • X - Cross-Cultural Competence
  • I - Immersion in World Languages
  • S - Social-emotional and Cognitive Skills Development


About the Co-founders

Kari Anne Calarco

Jenny Whitaker

Co-founder, AXIS International Academy
Co-founder, AXIS International Academy
Kari Anne Calarco brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit management at Teach For America and in education as a former K-5 teacher, instructional coach, administrator, university researcher, and professor. She has over four years of graduate coursework across the areas of educational psychology, culturally and linguistically diverse students, and special education.
Kari Anne Calarco spent her childhood in rural Indiana. After graduating from Indiana University, Kari joined Teach For America, an AmeriCorps leadership program where members teach in low income, high-need areas. For nearly a decade she was a special education teacher, instructional coach, and administrator in over 20 schools (including charter schools) in low-income communities across Los Angeles. During this time she reformed schools using research-based practices, completed her Masters’ in Special Education, taught graduate courses, and began Doctoral studies at UCLA in Educational Psychology researching Language, Literacy, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS).
While working in the Los Angeles Unified Schools District, she was in awe of the over 90 languages spoken across the district and by the vast number of multi-lingual colleagues and friends. This ignited a passion for languages and cultural learning, and she pledged that her children would be multilingual. In March of 2018, she teamed up with Jenny Whitaker to found AXIS International Academy.
Jenny Whitaker is mom to three young French language learners and a French learner herself. She has a strong background in marketing and development and a passion for language learning. Through the founding of AXIS Colorado and AXIS International Academy, she has developed key skills in organizational finance, operations, and school accountability.
Jenny Whitaker spent her childhood in southern California. She received her Bachelor's degree in Communications and Marketing and spent many years working in Development at the Children’s Hospital Foundation. In this role she executed actions across a variety of areas: marketing, advertising, event planning, fundraising, and donor relations.
In 2010, her family began an overseas adventure and relocated to Switzerland. This launched an exciting journey of language immersion and cultural learning for her and her family.
They returned to Northern Colorado in 2012, and Jenny has been committed to continuing the language and cultural learning of her family. She joined forces with Kari to found AXIS International Academy in March 2018.
Starting a charter school has been an all-consuming endeavor, and she has worked diligently to master critical skills necessary in the role of a charter school founder. In her (rare) “free” time, she enjoys running, volunteering at community events, and practicing her French.