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AXIS Update


AXIS March 7, 2022 School-wide Update

Hello AXIS Community!

Today we share two important updates, and you can read them captured in the letter below or watch the video.

Note: For the video, you may need to click the arrows to enable "full screen." 

Click here for the recording of the AXIS Virtual Town Hall meeting from Tuesday, March 8 



Dear AXIS Community, 

As we look ahead to another exciting school year at AXIS, we’ve been reflecting on our past. Four years ago, this month, the AXIS story began as a dream for parents and community members - a dream not just for a school, but for a life-changing opportunity for our children to be immersed in languages, cultures, and diversity right here in Fort Collins. In our school, English academics would match local schools, and the life-long gift of a second language would also be granted to our children. For many of us, this was the missing piece in making Fort Collins the best place to live. Relentless work by founders and parents combined with relationships and support of countless people across the country enabled AXIS to open our doors in 2019 - making our dream a reality.  

Even despite the crushing challenges of running a new school amidst a pandemic, we are delighted to share that we have achieved our start-up goals:  

  • A - We have met or exceeded state academic performance, even though our students only learn in English half of the day.  
  • X - We have one of the most diverse student and staff populations in Northern Colorado. 
  • I - Our students are gaining partner language proficiency and becoming bilingual and biliterate global citizens. 
  • S - Our students are learning social-emotional skills that will empower them in life. 

Today a new chapter of AXIS begins, and this new chapter starts with two updates: facilities and leadership.  

Facilities Update – First, facilities are always a priority of charter schools and the second greatest cost after staffing. Locally, FC Montessori operated in two churches for years before recently building their space, Liberty parents personally invested in their facility, and other schools remain in leased spaces. Knowing the challenge of facilities, we intentionally designed an ambitious financial facility plan to position AXIS to be able to move towards our dream facility within five years.  

It's exciting to share that right now, we are in a nearly unprecedented financial position as an early charter school. To keep up the momentum and with the goal of later moving into our dream facility, AXIS has made the decision to move to a new location for the 2022-2023 school year. We want to recognize that any change can feel disruptive and create anxiety. We also know change presents opportunity. After weighing different factors, the AXIS administration and Board of Directors are confident that this change is the best choice for our community at this time. Beginning in June 2022 our new address will be 2700 S. Lemay Avenue located on 11 acres at the southeast corner of Drake and Lemay in Fort Collins. We will begin parent tours in our new space later this spring. You can find more details about this decision, this location, and how to join our facilities committee in the Q & A section below. 

[Click here to view the accompanying Power Point slides, including pictures of the facility at slide 4.]

Leadership Update - Secondly, as some of you are already aware, I (Kari) will be shifting to part-time and away from managing the day-to-day school operations beginning in July. This is why we added Chen Hong to our leadership team as our Principal Fellow this year. We have built a strong team who will continue implementing our vision on the ground, led by Jenny and Chen. It has been my honor and greatest professional achievement to serve as a co-founder and the founding Principal/Head of School of AXIS. I look forward to continuing to drive the vision and mission of AXIS in a different capacity, as my family and I pursue another dream of ours – living in Europe. More details about this shift are in the Q & A section below. 

We anticipate you may have questions, even after reading all of the questions and answers below. We will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8 at 5:30pm https://us02web.zoom.us/j/754859348. This meeting will be recorded and posted on this webpage for those of you who can’t make it. Additionally, you can submit questions by completing the form linked below, and we will be answering your questions and updating our website below on an ongoing basis. Thank you for being part of our AXIS community, and we hope to see you soon! 

Our best, 

AXIS Co-founders, Kari and Jenny


Q & A (Questions and Answers) Section:
I. Facilities and II. Leadership 

If I still have questions after reading this document, where can I get more information?
You can submit questions now and at any point over the next few months here.

I. Facilities Update 
Upon our founding, AXIS set a goal to be positioned to purchase our long-term facility at the end of five years. We have exceeded this target, and we are ready to begin our search for our long-term facility now, in our third year. We hope to be in our long-term, forever home in the next two to three years. You can join our facility committee to do this important work and make facility recommendations to our AXIS administration and board. We originally planned to be in our Horsetooth location for two more years, but the CEC merger happened and led AXIS to re-evaluate our facility options. You can read more about this decision below. 

Join this exciting opportunity! You can join the AXIS facility committee and help to determine where the AXIS long-term home will be and what it will look like.  

Last month the AXIS Board of Directors voted to establish a Capital fund, which is our facility fund. At our March meeting, the Board will establish the AXIS Facility Committee, as a sub-committee of the AXIS Finance Committee. This Facility Committee will include Jenny, our Board Treasurer, parents, our commercial broker, our financial consultant and others. This committee will lead the effort in finding our forever home over the next year. This committee will consider all facilities options: buying and renovating or building our long-term facility. They will also share final recommendations to the AXIS administrators and Board with the hope of being in our forever home in the next two to three years. 

Email Jenny to express your interest in joining the Facilities Committee [email protected] 
Learning from charter schools who struggled with facilities, AXIS worked with our financial consultant and finance committee to identify charter school financial best practices. Using these best practices as targets, AXIS made an ambitious plan which included diligent budgeting to meet or exceed these charter financial best practices, providing an effective program with efficient spending, and using disciplined financial management to establish robust reserves and meet criteria to be competitive for financing.  
Beginning in June 2022 our new address will be at the Clearwater building at 2700 S. Lemay Avenue located on 11 acres at the southeast corner of Drake and Lemay in Fort Collins. This location is 10 minutes or 4 miles east of our current location, in a more centrally located part of Fort Collins. We recognize this Clearwater location will be closer for some families and farther for others. AXIS families drive from Windsor, Berthoud, Wellington, and beyond to give their child the gift of language immersion and the international experience only AXIS offers. We look forward to being more accessible to more families. 
The Clearwater building is school-ready. Two schools have operated in this space previously, most recently Ascent Classical Academy K-5 for the past year and a half, as their school was being built in Windsor. We know Ascent had a positive experience in the building. The owners are kind and are excited to have AXIS there. We will have the classrooms and space we need, a cafeteria, acres of field for play, ample parking and space for drop off and pick up, and an auditorium for events. We know it will be an excellent home for us as we launch our campaign for our permanent, forever AXIS home. We will schedule family visits and tours for families to the building later this spring. We also plan to hold events this summer.  

Yes. There is a long history of charter schools operating in buildings that are schools during the week and churches on the weekend. There is mutual benefit in this partnership due to the opposite schedules and cost sharing. This building is currently owned by Clearwater Church, and they hold services on Sunday mornings. During the week the church has five staff members onsite. AXIS will lease exclusive space from Clearwater for our classrooms, meaning they are for our use only and all posters/signage/decorations will be AXIS related.   

Our new location will not change anything about our AXIS programming or curricula. There will not be any sharing of the church’s religious beliefs at AXIS. Any religious symbols or messaging in the shared spaces will be covered during AXIS events. 

AXIS is currently working with Colorado Early Colleges to potentially offer a bus route from the 2130 W. Horsetooth Location to our new location. Any families who may be interested in this option should email Jenny Whitaker: [email protected]

One month ago, we shared the CEC (Colorado Early Colleges) school update in our school newsletter. In this update CEC announced their decision to merge their Horsetooth campus with their McMurray and Windsor campuses to offer more robust programming to their students. With CEC vacating the Horsetooth building, it is likely another entity will move in, and this brings uncertainty for AXIS. We do not know who will move in or when, but it will most likely include another school. Sharing a building with a school we don't yet have a working relationship with creates unknowns around building procedures, AXIS autonomy, and most importantly, certainty for students, staff, and families. We believe in providing the most autonomy and certainty possible to our students, staff, and families. 

With this decision, the AXIS administration and board members considered multiple scenarios. We considered purchasing the Horsetooth building or another building. We considered continuing to lease at Horsetooth or leasing another facility. Ultimately the Clearwater building offered the most autonomy and most certainty. This location is also cost effective, allows AXIS to operate in a more central Fort Collins location, and offers an excellent and flexible option while we find our forever home. 

We are so incredibly grateful for CEC, and we look forward to continuing our partnership. We have enjoyed sharing the Horsetooth building with them over the past three years. CEC has generously embraced our AXIS 5th graders/incoming 6th graders into their advanced language learning program, and they plan to continue to do so. It’s exciting to note that CEC is the only secondary school offering Mandarin Chinese in Northern Colorado. For families who will be both CEC and AXIS families next year and beyond, we want to share that the AXIS Clearwater location is closer to the CEC McMurray campus as compared to the current Horsetooth building. The distance between AXIS at Clearwater and CEC at McMurray is 3 miles or 7 minutes due north.  
Right now, CEC is planning to offer transportation from the Horsetooth Building to their McMurray campus. We hope to partner with CEC on transportation and will continue conversations there. AXIS will continue to offer a food service program next year. We will keep you posted about the details. 
Safety is our #1 priority at AXIS. The spaces that AXIS will be occupying in the new location have recently been updated with secure entry and exit points in all areas accessed by students. Additionally, AXIS owns a camera system that we are using in our current facility and will be moving to the new location so that we can have video access of all AXIS areas to ensure that student safety remains our top priority.  
The new facility offers one fenced-in playground, with acres of additional outside spaces. AXIS will be looking at purchasing additional playground equipment and supplies to fully take advantage of this new expanded area for our students to play in. 
II. Leadership Update 
My family and I have dreamed of living in Europe. In fact, it was this desire that led me in part to be so passionate about my children learning another language and gaining cross-cultural competence. My husband accepted a three-year work assignment in Copenhagen, Denmark. You all know I do not speak French (yet), but because of the committed French teachers and program at AXIS, my sons’ French levels are high enough for them to attend the French International School where they will learn in French for 90% of the day next year (AXIS and family goals accomplished!). We will also work to learn Danish as a family, and I will work to finally learn French (a goal I have had since my teens). We also plan to travel extensively through Europe. I will head to Copenhagen in July. 

I will continue to meet regularly with Jenny and our program team (Chen, Melissa, and Candy) to engage on happenings and monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPI) data across operations, academics, and finance domains to ensure that AXIS continues to meet or exceed its goals. I will also support team members through coaching and consultation, coming back for school visits periodically to see practices in action. 

I will engage in project-based work: establish 6th-12th grade language continuation options, create rubrics for staff proficiency and accountability, further implementation and creation of tools aligned with the AXIS Operating System (based on the Entrepreneurial Operating System organization best practices), support communications and grant writing, and other special projects as needed.  

I also look forward to learning from the French International School (where my sons will attend) and other International Schools throughout Europe, and I plan to share these learnings with AXIS. I will assist with international teacher recruitment for our AXIS Spanish and French programs, with the intent of building sustaining partnerships for teacher and intern pipelines.  

If there has been any silver lining of COVID, it has been the remote working skills we have gained. Jenny and I had a chance to pilot this arrangement last summer when I worked remotely from France for three weeks. 

You will always be welcome to email me at any time at my AXIS email address [email protected]