William Lewis, student & entrepreneur

Innovation Grants Benefit Clear Creek Students

October 2, 2022

Clear Creek Schools Foundation recently awarded funds to educators and students through its inaugural Innovation Grants. The Foundation launched the Innovation Grants to support engaging and community connected experiences for students. The program is a collaborative partnership with the school district. Over $12,000 was awarded.

Educator grants support the development of the Clear Creek Learner Profile skills: leadership, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, adaptability, and character. Clear Creek School District considers all of its employees to be educators since they have contact with students at some point in the school day. Student grants support ideas and passions and the development of Learner Profile skills.

The 2022 Innovation Grant recipients are:

Carlson Elementary

Liz Bogers, A Greener World (preK, K, 1st, 4th)

Students will study how a composter works (including maintaining a worm bin) and what can be composted. The compost will be used to fertilize our school garden plants. Students will also learn about drip system irrigation and how it works.

Jenny Pyler, Elliott the Elementary Therapy Dog (all grades)

Jenny will train her Bernese Mountain Dog, Elliott, to become a certified therapy dog. Elliott will help improve the overall mood of the school and provide students and staff with emotional support.

Samantha Klemm, Denver Audubon Bird Banding Experience (1st grade)

The Denver Audubon works with the first graders to track and monitor the bird species they are studying. The field experience includes tracking migration patterns of local bird populations, bird banding, owl pellet dissection, and a hike.

Beth Hall with students

King-Murphy Elementary

Carrie Prejzner’s class, Flexible Seating (5th/6th grades)

The class researched flexible seating and helped to write the grant request. Flexible seating supports the school’s shift in instructional tactics, in which students have more control over their learning environment as they pick the best learning environment for themselves.

Clear Creek Middle/High School

Stephanie Mellon, Vex Robotics (7th/8th)

Students need to feel confident and engaged in technology if they are going to thrive in our community. Funding supported updated Vex robotics materials and engineering and computer programming curriculum for the middle school STEM class.

Beth Hall, Community Based Instruction meets Community Service (grades 7-12)

Students will work on community service projects such as putting hygiene bags together for the local animal shelter, making meals for a shelter periodically, and making dog treats to donate to Charlie's Place and Echo. Students will also learn to have pride in their work and their capabilities to learn independent skills during community based instruction trips.

Pippi Graham, Tipi Transformation (grades 9-12)

Students will learn the cultural importance of the indigenous peoples who lived on the school’s local Rocky Mountain landscape—the Ute Mountain Ute were nomadic in the Mount Evans Wilderness in which Clear Creek county resides. Students will construct a tipi using poles sourced from the local forest. The tipi will also become an outdoor classroom.


Andrew Wolff, The Digital Media Superhero Project (all grades and schools)

The Project will empower students to create digital media content including videos, audio/podcasts, and digital art. Students will learn the technical aspects of digital creation along with skills including collaboration, communication, leadership.

Student Innovation

William Lewis, Urban Skate Co. (Class of 2023)

Launching a skate themed clothing line. Designing , producing, and selling clothing. The grant will allow Urban Skate to obtain equipment, create multiple designs, and receive feedback from the community on designs, styles, and sizes.

Educators were thrilled to receive support for their ideas. “Thank you so much! I am so excited about the opportunities this will open up for my students!” said Beth Hall, special education teacher. “Excellent work securing funding to ensure cool learning experiences for kids,” Lorraine Swartz, Carlson Elementary principal, congratulated her educators.

Clear Creek Schools Foundation would like to thank all applicants for participating in the grant process. We are also grateful for our partners, individuals, and companies that support our work.

Dan Lanzilotti catches a fish

Edupalooza Launches New Experiences for the School Year

August 29, 2022

Edupalooza kicked off the school year for employees at Clear Creek School District. Teachers, front office staff, tech and building staff, bus drivers—gathered from all schools. They participated in outdoor learning experiences while taking advantage of what makes Clear Creek special—the beautiful mountain environment, dedicated staff, and community resources. Edupalooza modeled the types of experiences that Clear Creek will provide to its students this year.

Edupalooza took place at the Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, a fully accessible Easterseals camp with forested hiking trails and streams feeding into Clear Creek. Along with RMV the event was sponsored by CCSD and Clear Creek Schools Foundation. The district and two of its partners, Mountain Youth Network and Transcend, designed fun activities that prioritized relationships and well-being. After each activity, staff reflected on the skills they used, like adaptability and collaboration, and how they could bring these types of experiences to the students and build their Learner Profile skills.

Superintendent Quanbeck

“This event was designed to support teachers to support students,” said Andrew Wolff, CCSD student futures navigator.

Superintendent Karen Quanbeck kicked off the day talking about the school year themes: Coherence, Community and Success for all Children. Her examples included coherence across all schools, building community inside and outside of the schools, and ensuring great experiences for all students.

Karen told staff that providing outdoor and hands-on experiences didn’t exclude classroom time for reading and

math, and asked that they imagine more experiences for students that engage them in learning and help build a future of hope and confidence for them. “If a kid feels connected to their community, we’re helping them to be healthy physically and mentally,” said Karen. “Connections matter. Hope matters.”

Then it was time to go outside into the first cool summer day the county had seen in awhile. The light rain didn’t bother anyone.

Ben Shay (beige hat), Mountain Youth Network, guides staff on a learning experience

Ben Shay of Mountain Youth Network guided the fishing activity. Despite what seemed like little instruction—“If you don’t know how to tie a knot, then just keep looping”—people went right to work, smiling and laughing. Soon people were fishing in the pond with their poles made of sticks and rocks.

The minimal instruction modeled how Clear Creek educators provide students choice in how they learn, explained Pippi Graham, Compass Day design coordinator for the district. Step-by-step instruction may be needed for things like math problems, “but for other things the journey itself is the learning experience.” As they built fishing poles, for example, they solved problems. They decided which role they wanted to take in the project. They collaborated. Pippi also explained that prioritizing well-being is important for both educators and students. “When you have your basic needs met, it’s a lot easier to learn.”

Groups rotated through three other activities:

  • Act out famous movie scenes by organizing themselves into roles: director, costume person, camera person, actors. Guided by Hannah Jensen and Becca Bernal of Mountain Youth Network.

  • Nature career mapping - collect two items from nature that represent 1) a success from the beginning of their career and 2) a present success. Then share with the group why they chose the items and then placed them into a group nature sculpture. Led by Pippi Graham along with Dacia Kelly, career connections coordinator for the district.

  • Birthday log: without talking, get in order of your birthday month on the log. World’s Greatest Cheerleader: One person leaves the group while the team chooses an action they will nonverbally guide that person to do by clapping lightly if the person is warm and cheering loudly as they get hotter. Led by Andrew Wolff and Taina Torres, from Transcend.

Staff enjoy acting out famous movie scenes

Later that day, there was free time for hiking, yoga, and fishing. The next day was spent with Transcend (elementary school staff) and Colorado Education Initiative (middle/high school staff) to reflect further on how to bring these types of activities that can build Learner Profile skills (adaptability, character, leadership, collaboration, communication, critical thinking).

Edupalooza was designed to take care of the staff’s physical and mental health. Based on feedback from the participants, it was a success. Comments included “it was nice to take a step back and get centered” and “I got to know people from the other schools.” Many looked forward to embracing the resources that make Clear Creek unique—throughout the community and the outdoor environment—to have fun with students and create engaging and meaningful experiences for them.

Clear Creek School District Receives $200,000 Early Childhood Grant

June 22, 2022

Clear Creek School District (CCSD), in partnership with Clear Creek Schools Foundation, has been awarded the The Community Innovation and Resilience for Care and Learning Equity (CIRCLE) Grant towards the community childcare center.

The childcare center is an effort by CCSD, Clear Creek County, and Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District that will create at least 66 childcare seats in early 2024. This grant provides more childcare by funding workforce preparation and strengthening business practices.

Clear Creek is building the infrastructure to draw and support more Early Childhood (EC) providers into the county by implementing career pathways to support high school, college, and community students. CCSD has advantages in providing pathways through its experience with Homegrown Talent Initiative and its implementation of healthcare and outdoor recreation career pathways. Also, in Fall 2022 CCSD starts a 4-day school week with enrichment on the fifth day. Students can take classes at Red Rocks Community College and participate in internships. Adult learners will be able to access practicum hours and employment in Clear Creek.

To strengthen business practices, an EC Business Coordinator will establish and document operational processes and procedures to support the childcare’s business practices and define the path toward a high Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) rating. These tools will be available to all EC providers throughout the county.

To receive ongoing information about the childcare center or becoming a childcare provider please complete this short form.

About Clear Creek School District RE-1

Clear Creek School District provides quality Pre-K-12 education for the communities of Evergreen, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Empire Colorado. CCSD also attracts students from surrounding school districts. CCSD received the 2021 Succeeds Prize, which recognizes the innovations of Colorado’s most forward-thinking educators. The award acknowledges the work of Superintendent Quanbeck and the District, with innovations like career-connected learning that combines core academics and hands-on industry experience. These experiences lead to incredible outcomes for students while building local talent pipelines for our businesses.

Best Educators. Empowered Learners. Visionary District. To learn more visit our website.

About Clear Creek Schools Foundation

As a community, we want the very best opportunities for our students. Clear Creek Schools Foundation identifies opportunities that can make a real difference to students and can generate support from others. The Foundation’s work is in alignment with Clear Creek School District’s strategic plan and priorities. To learn more visit our website.

Clear Creek Schools Foundation Opens $10,000 Discovery Scholarship for

Skills Certification or Associate’s Degree

April 4, 2022

Clear Creek Schools Foundation launches the first year of the Discovery Scholarship to support a Clear Creek High School graduate that attends a program granting skills certification or an associate's degree. The renewable scholarship will fund 100% of a student's net cost for tuition, fees, and books for up to two academic years and a maximum of $10,000. Preference will be given to graduating CCHS seniors, students with a history of community engagement or volunteerism and those that demonstrate a financial need. The Spring 2022 applications are due April 30.

Funding beyond the first grading period requires a minimum cumulative post-secondary grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Payments for tuition, books and fees will be made directly to the school or college. Students are expected to return to Clear Creek High School to share their post-secondary experience with current students during the final year of their studies.

A student’s net cost is defined as the school or college’s cost of tuition, fees and books minus the grants, other scholarships, tuition waivers and other gift aid a student receives.

The scholarship applications are reviewed by the Clear Creek Schools Foundation Scholarship Committee and the awardee will be announced on Clear Creek High School Senior Night May 2022. Applications can be submitted at

From Design to Implementation

November 22, 2021 - It was just two years ago that the Clear Creek community began designing the new Learner Profile and the skills that Clear Creek wants for its students. This year Carlson Elementary is bringing the design to life.

The Clear Creek Learner Profile describes the skills with which the community hopes to equip each student.

The design began with Advanced Placement (AP) art students creating posters to describe all the outdoor activities that define the county. The district invited community members to view the posters and share their perspective of what Clear Creek means to them and what they felt was important for students to learn and understand about the community.

Community members discussing ideas

The community design team included families, students, and key community members representing a variety of backgrounds, beliefs, and passions. “The conversations helped elevate equity in Clear Creek’s strategies” said Karen Quanbeck, Superintendent.

The finished product is depicted in a graphic seen throughout the schools and county and online. The Learner Profile applies to all Clear Creek students from pre-K to graduation.

Carlson Elementary started this school year with a new principal, Loraine Swartz, and a new culture of “crew,” which align with CC Learner profile’s values. “Crew is a culture of teamwork, shared responsibility, and mutual respect. It’s about belonging and supporting each other,” said Ms. Swartz.

So what does this look like during a school day? These are just a few examples of how Carlson Elementary is bringing CREW and the Clear Creek Learner Profile to life:

Building a Tepee

Mr Mike Dinadro, 4th grade at Carlson, guided students along the journey of building a tepee. The students learned communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and leadership skills. “We messed it up a few times and how to take it all down again,” said one student. Then...success. The tepee held up and the students enjoyed the benefits of their teamwork. A student noted, “It was freezing outside and it was warm inside the tepee.”

How many of you were leaders today?

In her 1st grade class, Leslie Coleman asked, “how many of you were leaders today?” Several students raised their hands.

One student sadly claimed, “I didn’t get to be a leader today!” Others chimed, “Me either!” Ms. Coleman said, “I should see all hands. Raise your hand if you worked with your partner, gave them directions, and then helped them.” Every hand rocketed up. “Then you were being a leader,” she says.

Preschoolers Practicing Leadership

Preschoolers took turns being leaders. The class got in a wide circle facing each other, and each took a turn leading the class with their favorite pose, like touching their toes.

The Clear Creek Learner Profile and Crew culture helps the elementary students see themselves as part of their class, school, and community. One student stated, “It helps us learn more about each other and trust each other.”