Get to Know Colorado Preparatory Academy

Thank you to our sponsor, Colorado Preparatory Academy

Colorado Preparatory Academy (CPA) is a tuition-free online public school serving Colorado students in grades K–12.

Nicole TileyCo Springs Mom Collective had the pleasure of sitting down with Nicole Tiley, Head of School for Colorado Preparatory Academy, for a brief Q&A session to learn more about CPA and the many benefits it offers its students.

Could you tell me a little bit about Colorado Preparatory Academy and the grades served? 

Colorado Preparatory Academy is a multi-district online school serving students across the state. Colorado Preparatory Academy serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade. We serve all students including those who have IEPs, 504 plans, as well as students who qualify for gifted education. We make sure that we have programs that meet the individual needs of all students.

That is wonderful! So you truly meet the students where they are at academically?

We do! For students who qualify for gifted education, we provide courses to them at higher levels. For instance, right now we have a seventh-grade student in precalculus, so we can truly customize a student’s education. If they need advanced courses, we’re able to provide that to them.

We have partnerships with over 28 community colleges in the state. For students who are looking for that concurrent enrollment aspect, we pay for the entire tuition for students to attend and earn college credits.

And then for students who need additional support, we have our curriculum and then a supplemental curriculum that helps our students. For instance, if a student is struggling in reading, we purchase a supplemental program that provides targeted instruction and helps students get where they need to be.

CPA is tuition-free, but with online learning, are there any other additional fees or costs? What about the cost of books or supplies?

We provide all of the supplies, even Chemistry kits. We do provide computers to all students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. If there is a family that needs computer help, that is something we look at on a case-to-case basis because we don’t want technology or a computer concern to limit the student’s ability to attend our school. So we work with the families on that. 

What does a typical school day look like for a Colorado Preparatory Academy student? 

A typical school day is about six hours. It’s a combination of teacher instruction and online coursework. Students will have the time to work with teachers in an online classroom. They’ll be able to see the other students through the webcams. They can write on our interactive boards and do different activities together. Part of their day is going into the live classes with teachers and students. And then the other part of their day is doing their online work. They follow their online school curriculum and use embedded videos for instruction as well.

Do you offer any sort of enrichment activities, such as field trips, social groups, or clubs that one would see at a typical in-person school? 

Yes, we offer field trips. We have field trips throughout regional parts of the state. We also have blended learning, which are opportunities for students to get together. Our elementary students will go to parks and do field events. Our high school students like to go to coffee shops and different places to hang out.

We also have a new program this year called the K12 Zone, which is like a virtual social community. We open it during lunch hours and students can pick their interests and then virtually go in.

Colorado Preparatory Academy has a robust National Honor Society program in both our middle school and high school where we do an induction into the National Honor Society. Those students work on community projects throughout the year. leadership camp at Colorado Preparatory Academy

We also have student leadership, which we make sure is a unique and diverse group. We take those students camping at a YMCA camp for AMP Camp (Ambassador Mentorship Program) and we do a leadership program with them. And then they come back to lead students and provide peer-to-peer support.

Does CPA offer prom and an in-person graduation ceremony? 

We do. We have an in-person prom and we rent the coolest venue where students can dance and have fun. It’s a great opportunity for our students to come and have the prom experience. We try to do it in the middle of the state so that it’s centrally located so students can attend. And then we have an in-person graduation at one of the colleges in the Denver Metro area.

Colorado Preparatory AcademyIn your opinion, what are the benefits of an online school versus a brick-and-mortar school for your students? 

One of the benefits of an online school is there are not a lot of distractions for our students, meaning they don’t have a lot of the bullying or peer pressure that sometimes happens in a brick-and-mortar school. Flexibility is another. Students get to take their time. If they need more time to work with one of our teachers, they can do that in their schedule. Students can customize their day and have a little bit more flexibility in how their days look. We also have Pathways for students who want to take concurrent enrollment classes. And a lot of those classes, they take at their local community college or online. We can flex them, meaning that our required classes can become optional for those students so that we can work with their schedules more. And that’s the same in elementary and middle school. Students can apply to be in our Flex program, meaning that some of our required live classes with teachers become optional as long as we’re seeing that student trajectory and learning. 

Do you have any highlights that you would like to share about your school or students?

Last year during our leadership camp, I got the opportunity to talk to one of our students who shared that she wasn’t sure if college was going to work for her. She was worried about the financial aspects of starting college. I talked to her about our program where students can come back as a fifth year and we pay for their college tuition if they earn nine college credits while a high school student with us. And, now, she is fully enrolled. She is attending college and loving it. I get excited about letting kids know that we have opportunities for them and we will work with them to help them figure out their next steps postsecondary.

Where can parents go to learn more?

They can go to our website, Colorado Preparatory Academy, to learn more information.