New charter school will have experienced leadership |

New charter school will have experienced leadership

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When Two Rivers Community School opens its doors in the fall, two of the area's top administrators will be at the helm: Adriana Ayala-Hire, current assistant principal of Basalt High School, and Rebecca Ruland-Shanahan, principal of Grand Valley Center for Family Learning.

The pair share a passion for multicultural education — one of the tenets of the new Glenwood-based state charter school, along with hands-on, placed-base learning. The administrators' combined experience covers the wide age range the school will host — initially kindergarten through seventh grade, with eighth grade being added in 2015.

The school is expected to draw students from throughout the valley, and organizers say they've received applications from Parachute to Carbondale.

Ayala-Hire said she was enthused about the opportunity.

"After 21 years with Roaring Fork School District, I just felt like I wanted to do something else," she said. "I had always wanted to see a bilingual school that really values a second language and culture" as a core part of its mission.

To Ayala-Hire, bilingualism is like literacy — a fundamental skill for an individual and a measure of a nation as a whole. She believes the United States can flourish only if it embraces its multiculturalism.

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"Schools are really the main transmitters of cultural values," she said. "The future will be greatly determined by whether the racial and socioeconomic discrepancies are diminished."

That equality begins at enrollment.

"We want to be representative of the community and not exclusive," said Ruland-Shanahan. That has been tricky, as interest has exceeded organizers' expectations. The parents of 250 students filed an intent to enroll, and the school already has a waiting list.

"People like to have a choice," Ruland-Shanahan said.

As to why a project like this hasn't happened in Glenwood before, Ruland-Shanahan cited the sheer work needed to get a charter school off the ground.

"Not everyone has three years to volunteer their life to this," she said. "At this point it's like giving birth."

As the enrollment process continues, the interim board is preparing to renovate its space in West Glenwood.

A $25,000 federal mineral lease will help with construction, while a Start-Up Grant from the Colorado Department of Education will supply desks, books and needed materials. As a state charter, the school will receive per-pupil funding, but does not benefit from local taxes and mill levies. It will require further financial and volunteer support to thrive.

"This school will be what our families and community make it," Ruland-Shanahan said.

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