Why We Chose to Start Early at CA

Cadence and Cora McEachern | First Grade and Pre-K

D.C. and Cat McEachern hoped to find an excellent independent school for their children, comparable to the one that D.C. had attended growing up in California. When they found Colorado Academy, they were surprised and delighted. “It was better than the school my husband went to,” Cat McEachern says. “What made it better was that his school didn’t start until Middle School, but at CA we could start our children in Pre-Kindergarten!”

The McEacherns have a simple philosophy when it comes to choosing a school for their two girls: “Begin as you mean to go.” Cadence started in Pre-K and is now in first grade, and Cora just started Pre-Kindergarten.

“We knew that we wanted our children to end up at CA,” Cat says. “So why not get started there as soon as possible?”

Cat McEachern says the family loves the facilities and experiences that are available to Pre-K students. She believes that Cadence “blossomed from a shy kid into a leader” during her Pre-K year, largely due to a low student-teacher ratio and opportunities to learn to be independent by participating in campus life around older students. After just one week in Pre-K, four-year-old Cora was already talking about going to the gym and the theater. “She doesn’t know what P.E. is yet,” laughs Cat. “But she knows that it’s in the gym.”

The McEacherns say they made the decision to apply to CA immediately after attending a Parent Preview event and hearing Head of School Mike Davis, Ph.D., speak.

“He blew us away,” Cat said. “When he talked about the school’s core values—kindness, courage, trying new things, learning to fail, using technology responsibly—we knew this was a school that reflected our values.”

The family also likes CA’s culture of accepting and celebrating diversity. “My husband and I are both Hispanic,” Cat says.  “I want my children in a school where they can be proud of those things that make them different—as well as accepting of other people’s differences.”

Cadence and Cora McEachern have both begun the journey to becoming a “CA Super-Lifer,” a student who attends the school from Pre-K through senior year. When their mother watches the older students on campus, she feels confident that her children are in the right school, learning from older role models.

“Somehow, at CA, all the kids have learned to say hello to you, hold the door for you, and look you in the eye when they talk to you,” Cat says. “That’s the kind of culture we want for our children.”

Oliver Lopez | Kindergarten

When Oliver Lopez stepped off the bus after his first day of Kindergarten at CA, his father asked him how it went.

“It was amazing,” five-year-old Oliver said. “It is the best school ever.”

That was music to the ears of Oliver’s parents, Alfredo Lopez and Sue Cho.

“It’s a big decision to send your child to a school that is relatively far away,” Sue says. “You want to know he’s having a good experience.”

Oliver’s parents believe strongly that “the early years are the formative years.” They decided to start Oliver in Kindergarten at CA because they believe the school’s curriculum has been intentionally developed so that a child learns sequentially, starting at a very early age.

“I can already see a clear path for him going from Kindergarten to twelfth grade,” Sue says. “Each year that he is at CA the curriculum builds on itself, adding to everything he has already learned.”

Oliver’s favorite Kindergarten experience has been in science, which delights his parents. They have been impressed by CA’s early childhood science, math, and technology curriculum, and astonished that one of the first emails they received from the school introduced the idea of learning to code in the Lower School.

“I feel like CA is cognizant of what is happening in the real world,” Sue says. “The school’s curriculum is geared to help students succeed in an evolving business environment.”

At CA, Sue feels she is meeting families who are “like-minded” and want the same things for their children that she and Alfredo want for Oliver—a strong and diverse learning environment where students enjoy academic challenges and can learn inside and outside the classroom. She likes CA’s mission statement, which emphasizes the development of a well-rounded child. “I would call CA a ‘full-service school,’” Sue says. “For students, all options—service, academics, sports, art, music—are available to explore. You don’t have to go outside the school—it’s all there.”

And so each day as Oliver comes home from Kindergarten, his parents are smiling too. “To see him excited about what he learned that day makes you feel great as a parent,” Sue says. “CA was definitely the right decision for our family.”

Isaac Press | First Grade

As a former teacher and coach at a Denver independent school, Jessica Press brought a unique perspective to the school search for her 6-year-old son, Isaac. She knows that many parents make sacrifices to place a child in an independent school, and she is prepared to do the same.

“Investing in CA now is the best investment we can make for Isaac’s future,” she says. “Here, he has a better chance to fall in love with learning when he is young, because CA has a culture of curiosity and creativity.”

Isaac attended Kindergarten at a different school, where Jessica believed he was already slipping through the cracks because of the high ratio of students to one full-time teacher. The fact that Isaac only had physical education once a week concerned her. Most importantly, she didn’t think he was being challenged; he was already getting bored in the classroom.

“For me, developing confidence in the classroom early is the foundation on which everything else is built,” Jessica says. “If we had waited until Middle School to move Isaac, CA would have to undo all the potential gaps and deficits that could have been avoided before that. We just couldn’t wait.”

In contrast to his year in Kindergarten, Isaac is coming home from first grade talking non-stop about what he learned that day (“fun facts about grasshoppers,” his mother says). He is also more tired because he has physical activity during the day. He views riding the bus to school as a daily adventure, and he especially loves having been paired with a fourth-grade friend in CA’s buddy program.

“It makes him feel important because he is connected to someone in the school,” Jessica says. “He has someone to look up to.”

Press raves about CA’s Kindergarten-sized salad bar. Isaac is gluten-free, and after his first day at school, his mother got in touch with his teacher to check on his lunch choices. Within a day, she had an email back from the teacher saying that she had introduced Isaac to all the lunch servers.

“They are watching out for him in the dining hall and guiding him,” Jessica says. “That’s important to our family, and to know that it is being handled with so much care gives me peace of mind.”

Isaac has started taking private piano lessons at CA, which delights his mother, since the time is incorporated into his school day and doesn’t come out of family time. She has already looked at future possibilities for Isaac to play sports at CA, since, as a former teacher and coach, she knows “how many life skills you can learn being part of athletics.”

“I feel like in some schools, you have to pick your group, but at CA you can be academic, athletic and a thespian,” Jessica says. “When we raise the bar, kids will meet that. CA will raise the bar for Isaac and give him the tools to someday do something he loves.”