The Acuff Family: Why we chose private education

As Erin and Jon Acuff began looking for a school for their two daughters, they hoped that both girls would be able to attend the same school. And yet, they knew that might be a challenge, because the girls are very different.   

Annabelle, who is in Pre-Kindergarten at Colorado Academy, shows aptitude for science and math and gets excited about coding and robotics. Elliotte, who is in Grade 1, is creative—whether it’s visual or performing arts—but she also loves sports. At Colorado Academy, the Acuffs say, they are “thrilled over the moon” to have found a school where the interests of both children will be nurtured. 

“We aren’t sure what direction their passions will take in the future,” says Jon. “But CA seems to be a great place, where they can explore the world and have a variety of experiences in a safe environment.”  

I was impressed by CA from the start,” says Erin. “When we interviewed there, the focus was on our children and not on us, the parents. I liked CA’s emphasis on social and emotional learning and developing resilience, because that is such an important part of education.” 

‘Genuine, authentic, and lack of pretense’ 

Both Jon and Erin grew up in Orange County, Calif., one of the most affluent areas in the country. They intentionally left their home state and moved to Colorado, because they wanted a different quality of life for their children. They also wanted to find a school that was consistent with their values. When they talk about their experiences visiting CA throughout the admission process, they use words like “genuine,” “authentic,” and “lack of pretense.”  

“We were looking for a school that was down-to-earth,” Erin says. “We wanted to find a community that felt comfortable, and at CA, we did.”  

“I am all for being studious and achieving at a high level,” Jon adds. “But at CA, I feel like kids are allowed to be kids. They can have fun and not feel they are in a highpressure, highly competitive environment.”   

The Acuffs decided to start both girls at CA as early as possible, because they believe in early childhood education. “We can see how much they grow in a year at this age,” Jon says.  

And having the right experiences now is critical,” Erin adds. “It’s the foundation for success in the future.”  

Jon and Erin say that CA’s efforts to create diverse environment—cultural, racial, socioeconomic—is “so very important to us, and something that we were seeking in Colorado.” When they met CA students, they were impressed by their social skills, and the CA parents they encountered described the school community as “warm, welcoming, and relaxed.”   

And so, at CA, the Acuffs are delighted to have found a place where not only can their children learn and “be kids,” but they also can join a community consistent with the values that brought them from California to Colorado.