Utility Container



Mobile Menu Trigger (container)

Search Trigger (container)

Aspen's Blog

By Nicole Kruse, AEI Coach

Excitement is in the air here at Aspen: summer is quickly approaching! Say so long to packing lunches, school uniforms, homework, and early morning drop-offs, and say hello to warm weather, swimming pools, vacations and sleeping in. It sounds like a magical dream for the perfect summer. But the realists know that soon enough, those two words will creep out of our children's mouths: "I'm bored." The dream of the perfect summer of riding bikes, playing in the pool and running through the sprinkler will quickly fade and boredom will set in. And it's up to you, Mom or Dad, to give your children a list of a thousand things they can do to fight this dreaded boredom.

Well, look no further. It's pretty simple actually. And it's good for all of us. It's a win-win.

Volunteer. Serve Others.

Doing service has so many benefits:

  1. We get to help those who need it.
  2. It's great for our mental and physical health.
  3. It can teach the social and networking skills.
  4. It opens our children's eyes to something new.
  5. It strengthens our community.
  6. It makes all of us better people.
  7. It teaches problem solving and how to lead.
  8. It instills Aspen Academy's values: Be kind. Do good. Work hard. Make the world a better place.

Now that I've convinced you that doing service is a great way to not only alleviate boredom, but that it's good for all of us, the next decision is where to volunteer, which can get a little trickier, especially with young children. Rest assured there are options. Check out the following websites to help you choose what best fits your family.

So when the excitement of summer wears off, and it will, have a game plan. Get your kids involved in the planning. Bring some friends along. Make the world a better place.

Read more

by Nicole Kruse, AEI Coach

I was doing a little research the other day on why it's so important to teach our kids about money, and I came across this statistic: 70% of wealthy families lose their wealth by the 2nd generation, and 90% of wealthy families lose it by the 3rd generation! This shocked me, but maybe it shouldn't. If we aren't talking with our kids about money and how to be responsible with it, then why would we expect them to know what to do with it when they become adults?

Another way to look at it: If all our kids ever see us do is spend our money, use our credit cards, go on vacations, and buy whatever we want, and we don't talk with them about where that money came from and what our budget is, that will be their expectation when they get that credit card in their hands. How hard you worked for your money won't matter when it's all gone.

I'm not saying we should stop buying things and stop going on vacations. I'm just suggesting we begin having conversations with our children about money. Check out the article attached for some good ideas on how to do this.


Read more

by Nicole Kruse, AEI Coach

If six out of every 10 kids will grow up to take a job that doesn't even exist yet, it's critical for us to create an innovate, entrepreneurial mindset in all of our students- beginning in Kindergarten.

Our students must be able to create products, ideas and jobs that can't be replaced by artificial intelligence. Professor Andre Spicer, from Cass Business School said, "According to some scenarios, artificial intelligence will quickly replace many forms of complex knowledge work ranging from lawyers to librarians, professors to policy analysts." A report sponsored by Citibank concludes that 47% of US jobs are at risk. These predictions lend itself to the question: If machines are capable of doing most work, what will humans do? If teachers have cultivated an entrepreneurial mindset in students, the risk of artificial intelligence replacing their work diminishes, thus allowing students to continue maintaining personal financial responsibility rather than relying on something or someone else.

Aspen Academy has developed a curriculum that does just this. The Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute created a comprehensive program that can be inculcated into schools, creating financially savvy individuals, producing a world that grows in entrepreneurial endeavors that aims to have a longitudinal impact on our nation.

Every student that graduates from Aspen Academy has developed something from nothing. Each 8th grader forms an idea, writes a business plan, develops a product or a service and pitches this business idea to a panel of judges. As AEI continues to grow and develop, these innovative ideas will begin much sooner than 8th grade. Students will begin working on their first prototype long before they turn 14. Students that complete the Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute program won't need to "adapt to whatever future technology and changes come our way," our students will be the change.

Check out a special segment on The NOW Denver, 7NEWS Denver, where Aspen Academy Kindergarteners were asked the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Aspen Academy on Channel 7

Read more

child swinging with sun shining on his face

By Joel L. Cohen, MD, FAAD, Aspen Academy Parent

As a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon who spends a significant amount of my clinic time removing skin cancers and treating photodamage, I recognize the importance of educating the public about UV exposure risks. As a father of young children (Their grandparents have a broad history of melanoma in situ, SCC, and BCC.) who is married to a pediatrician, I recognize that it is especially important to protect children from UV exposure. The benefit of early education/intervention is two-fold:

1. Reduction of UV exposure in youngsters has an exponential benefit in minimizing lifetime cumulative UV-induced damage.

2. Habits—good and bad—can be formed at a young age, so starting children on the path to good UV habits is essential. The best weapon we have against skin cancer is prevention, and prevention has to start at a young age.

In my mind, to effectively reach young people requires a clear-cut, (at-least) three-pronged program: counseling, school engagement, and community outreach.


Just as we dermatologists talk to adult patients about UV safety and the need for sunscreen, so should we be counseling our youngest patients. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), as an independent body, has provided a clear-cut, sun safety recommendation. Specifically, they have affirmed the need for and benefit of UV education for children and adolescents.1 In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics has also endorsed the need for UV counseling focused on adolescent patients, in particular.

The harsh realities of skin cancer among younger people are unavoidable: One study found an eight-fold increase in the incidence of melanoma among young women (ages 18-39) and a four-fold increase among young men from 1970 to 2009—quite possibly attributed to tanning among youths.2

And yet, data show that young people may be actively engaging in risky UV-related behaviors. Although indoor tanning among high school students appears to be on a recent decline, the practice is still somewhat common. CDC researchers report that 15 percent of non-Hispanic white female high school students tan indoors. Indoor tanning was associated with an increased likelihood of sunburn according to this study.3 Clearly, patients of all ages need to hear from us about the risks of tanning, the risk of unprotected UVR, that each sunburn significantly increases the risk of future skin cancer, that one in five Americans will get a skin cancer during their lifetime, and one American dies every hour from melanoma skin cancer.

People need to know that UVR is considered a Class I carcinogen by the WHO and tanning beds are classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Furthermore, patients should be informed that research clearly shows that regular sunscreen use reduces the risk for melanoma,4,5 and SCC.5 Research supports a role for sunscreens in preventing UV-induced DNA damage.6


Research has highlighted a lack of sun safety promotion in America's schools. Fewer than half of schools (47.6 percent) allotted time for students to apply sunscreen during the day.7 And only 13.3 percent of schools actually made sunscreen available for student use. Elementary and middle schools were more likely than high schools to implement favorable sun safety behaviors.7

In an editorial accompanying the studies, Henry W. Lim, MD, President of the American Academy of Dermatology, notes that, "Clearly, both the dermatology and medical communities need to continue public awareness campaigns regarding photoprotection, including sun-safety practices such as seeking shade when outdoors and wearing photoprotective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 should be generously applied (and reapplied) to sun-exposed areas when outdoors."8 I think all dermatologists and scientists in this field whole-heartedly endorse that sentiment.

Among the best tools for skin cancer prevention—after physical avoidance of UV radiation—is proper use of sunscreen. Here's the rub: sunscreens are proven, tested, regulated products...and are therefore classified as OTC drugs by the FDA. That means that in some of our nation's schools, students are not permitted to carry or apply sunscreen without parent/guardian permission.

Engagement with educators can make an impact on childhood health and safety.

I have worked with some Colorado schools to encourage early recess, so that students are not out in the midday sun. Schools should also ask students to bring sunscreen to school and allow time for application or re-application before going outdoors. In most cases, filing a simple permission slip signed by the parent is all that is necessary to allow the child to bring sunscreen to school and apply it. Because teachers of young children will have to help apply sunscreens, the permission slips for these students should include allowing the teacher to help the child put on sunscreen. The data show that sunscreen is most effective for two hours, and less if people are sweating, swimming or toweling off. A single morning application, like so many of our patients use, is totally insufficient.

I devised a permission slip for use by schools that you can download at PracticalDermatology.com.


To truly make a difference, physicians and other health care providers must educate beyond our clinic walls. Dermatologists and pediatricians may offer to visit schools to educate students about UV avoidance and the importance of sun safety, as well as overall skin health. Other hot topics for the school age set include hand hygiene, face and hair care, and even acne facts and myths. Programs for teachers may also be valuable, addressing additional issues like the very small incidence of allergy to sunscreen ingredients. Requiring parents to supply their own sunscreen for their kids (clearly marked with the student's name with permanent marker) is recommended to reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions.

Teachers should encourage boys and girls to wear hats, and schools should install shade structures on playgrounds.

Consider also reaching out to local religious or civic groups and sports leagues. Coaches and group leaders may welcome the offer for you to address the children in their programs. Perhaps even a local sales rep would help you acquire samples of sunscreens to donate to the group for a specific event.

Sponsoring uniforms for a team—including UV-protective hats or visors—is a way to help protect kids.


The sun safety message cannot be provided too early or too often. Melanoma is a healthcare epidemic, and the problem is growing. We're making strides in treating skin cancer, but there's no "cure" on the horizon. Building good habits now may be the best way to reverse the alarming trend of increasing skin cancer rates across the US and around the world. Encouraging patients, kids, and families to use sunscreen, reapply sunscreen, wear hats and other photoprotective clothing, and do skin checks (self checks for new or changing lesions, and doctor checks at the office especially for families that have a skin cancer history) are keys to decreasing the skin cancer epidemic and treating potentially deadly skin cancers early.

Watch Dr. Cohen, Chief Editor for DermTube.com, discuss his approach to educating patients of all ages about skin cancer.

1. Final Update Summary: Skin Cancer: Counseling. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. September 2016. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page...

2. Reed KB, Brewer JD, Lohse CM, Bringe KE, Pruitt CN, Gibson LE. Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: an epidemiological study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clin Proc. 2012 Apr;87(4):328-34.

3. Guy GP, Berkowitz Z, Everett Jones S, Watson M, Richardson LC. Prevalence of Indoor Tanning and Association With Sunburn Among Youth in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. Published online March 03, 2017.

4. Green AC, Williams GM, Logan V, Strutton GM. Reduced melanoma after regular sunscreen use: randomized trial follow-up. J Clin Oncol. 2011 Jan 20;29(3):257-63.

5. Olsen CM, Wilson LF, Green AC, Bain CJ, Fritschi L, Neale RE, Whiteman DC. Cancers in Australia attributable to exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation and prevented by regular sunscreen use. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2015 Oct;39(5):471-6.

6. Olsen CM, Wilson LF, Green AC, Biswas N, Loyalka J, Whiteman DC. Prevention of DNA damage in human skin by topical sunscreens. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2017 Feb 6.

7. Everett Jones S, Guy GP. Sun Safety Practices Among Schools in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. Published online March 03, 2017.

8. Lim HW, Schneider SL. Sun Safety Practices—Progress Made, More to Go. JAMA Dermatol. Published online March 03, 2017.

Published on: http://practicaldermatology.com/2017/04/to-end-the...

JOEL L. COHEN, MD is an internationally-recognized expert on aesthetics and skin cancer. Dr. Cohen has been named a US News and World Report Top Dermatologist, and has been voted by his peers as one of Denver's Top Doctors in 5280 magazine NINE times (including listings for cosmetic procedures as well as dermatology). He is the Director of AboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery in Greenwood Village and Lone Tree, Colorado. Dr. Cohen was elected to serve as a national instructor in dermatologic surgical and aesthetic procedures by both the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) Preceptorship Program and also American Society of Lasers in Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) Preceptorship Program. He serves on the dermatology teaching faculty of the University of Colorado as an Associate Clinical Professor, and as an Assistant clinical professor at the University of California at Irvine. Recently, Dr. Cohen has been selected and confirmed as an ASDS Fellowship Director. He has been a recipient of the ASDS Public Service Award, the ASCDAS Distinguished Service Award, and the ASDS Excellence in Education Award.

Dr. Cohen has published over 200 scientific medical articles and book chapters, and has co-authored 3 academic textbooks: Regional Rejuvenation (McGraw-Hill), Reconstructive Conundrums in Dermatologic Surgery (Wiley-Blackwell) and Botulinum Toxins Cosmetic and Clinical Applications (Wiley-Blackwell); and co-authored the Derm Directory (eds. 1-7) as well. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and Brandeis University—where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. He received his MD degree at Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, and graduated with Honors.

Dr. Cohen has been quoted in many newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Glamour, Vogue, Allure, In Style, Shape, MORE and Esquire. He is a frequent guest on Sirius Satellite Doctor Radio, and was also featured on the Emmy-Award winning TV show "The Doctors" as an expert dermatologist & Mohs surgeon.

Read more

Give, Save, Spend Jars

by Nicole Kruse, Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute Coach

All kids should receive an allowance. Not because I want kids to be spoiled or greedy, or because they deserve it, but because it's the first step in teaching them real-life, concrete financial management. While the amount of money you give them each week doesn't necessarily matter, talking to your children about what they do with the money does.

So what do you talk about? It's pretty simple. Talk to your children about the basic ways money can be used- it can be saved, spent, or shared.

When we ask children how they're going to spend their money, some children are under the impression that they must spend their money on something. This obviously isn't the case, and as adults we know this, but it's a misleading question for kids.

Having a conversation with our children about what they can do with their money will help clear up any misunderstandings about it. I recommend keeping it simple.

Three jars: Save, Spend, Give.

Decide on a reasonable percentage of the allowance that goes in each jar.

Discuss the "why" for each jar. I met with some of the elementary students this week and we talked about philanthropy. Many of them couldn't tell me why we donate our time, our money and our talents to charity. It was fascinating.

Have your children set some goals and ground rules that you all agree upon. Because issues and questions will come up that you didn't think about before. Be prepared. What are they saving for? What can they spend their money on? How much can they spend at once? Do they need to always have money in their banks? Is there a charity they're passionate about?

And finally, allow your children to be responsible for their jars. If they run out of money, and they want something, it's ok to say no. Have them save for it. Even if this makes you the meanest mom or dad on the planet! No one said that teaching financial responsibility would be easy, but it sure will be worth it.

Read more

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO., April 24, 2017- National Financial Literacy Month is recognized in the United States in April. The designated Financial Literacy month started as Financial Literacy for Youth Month in 2000. Because financial literacy impacts everyone, it was recognized by the United States Congress as a National Financial Literacy Month. It is important to teach all Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

Aspen Academy, an independent school in Colorado, recognizes the importance of teaching children financial literacy from a very young age. The Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute began as an idea that Kristina Scala, Head of School, had about teaching kids about money. Scala believes that it doesn't matter who you are or what your socio-economic status is, the one thing everyone has in common is that we will all deal with money in some way, every day of our lives.

Nicole Kruse, Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute Coach, developed the Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute Curriculum for kindergarten through 8th grade. There is no other curriculum like this in the country. No other school is teaching kindergarteners through 8th graders about money on a consistent basis. Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute is building the nation's first wholly sequenced, school-based financial literacy and financial management program with an emphasis on cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset for both students and teachers.

Aspen Academy teaches two 25-minute Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute lessons a week. Some topics covered in the curriculum include: wants and needs; producers and consumers; rights and privileges; credit and debt; types of insurance; forms of payment; and risk and reward. The lessons build upon each other, so most of the concepts stay the same from year to year; however, they have more depth and continued application.

The Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute also prepares students so that in 7th grade they start running one of the three different school businesses: Bear's Café, Bear's Student Store and Bear's Student Enterprises Media. It is in 8th grade that students write a business plan, create a business, and pitch their idea to a group of parents and faculty members. Some of the 8th grade businesses this year include:

Rudspice- blend of spices

Tuber- school tutor app

7:54 Blended Delights- smoothie business

Tiny Travel- travel kits that include medical needs

Bath Bombs for Better- 12 months, 12 birthstones, 12 bath bombs

Blondie's Cookies- edible cookie dough

ID Technologies- your branding solution

It Makes Cents- vending machine business

About Aspen Academy

As a national learning model and with a mindset towards entrepreneurial innovation, Aspen Academy develops and inspires extraordinary leaders who make a positive and lasting impact.

Superior academics and a nurturing, dedicated faculty support each student at every turn. Aspen Academy inspires and develops excellence in academic growth and performance; character and leadership; and community strength and service.


Lara Knuettel

Director of Advancement (Marketing, Communications, Admissions & Development)


(303)346-3500 ext. 117

Roberta Vallina

Marketing and Communications Manager


(303)346-3500 ext. 111

Read more

daughter washing dishes

by Nicole Kruse, Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute Coach

A common misconception among parents is linking allowance to chores. Of course chores are good for kids- they teach responsibility and the importance of doing your part within a family unit. Every person in the family has chores, including parents, and they should simply be part of everyday family life.

The problem occurs when we link an allowance to the specific chores our kids do. You may end up negotiating every time you want your child to do something. "I'll pay you $10.00 to shovel the driveway or $5.00 to clean the bathroom." Sound familiar? What happens when $5.00 isn't good enough? Or when you really need that bed made because you have company and your daughter doesn't care about earning a $1.00? Chores and allowance are separate entities.

Implementing an allowance begins with a family conversation about everyone chipping in for the betterment of the family. Every person in the family should have some responsibilities; even your two year old can walk his plate to the sink. When you shift the way you think about chores in relation to the family unit, you shift the purpose of the chores.

Next, be clear with your kids about what allowance money can be used for, and with younger kids, keep it pretty basic: parents supply the needs (food, clothes, and things like gifts for friends) and any extras, like an app or a new toy, comes out of the allowance. Come up with your own guidelines that work for you and your family values. It can be as simple as 40% to savings, 30% to spend and 30% to donate.

Finally, be consistent and use cash. If you've decided to give a $5.00 allowance every week, give the $5.00 allowance every week. Find another way to discipline that doesn't correspond with allowance. By using cash, you are instilling the essential habits of budgeting, saving and spending in a more concrete way. Yes, having a bank account is great, but pay in cash and allow your children to deposit the money into their accounts.

Giving an allowance now will help your children to become financially responsible adults in the future.

Read more

8th grader presents her business plan to her class

by Nicole Kruse, AEI Coach

There are over 27 million entrepreneurs in the United States and over 70% of the Aspen Academy parent population are entrepreneurs. And now we can add another 46 people to that list- 46 8th graders to be specific.

Part of the mission of the AEI program is to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in young learners. This week this mission came to fruition. Each of the 8th graders generated a business idea, wrote a business plan, and pitched his or her idea to a group of sharks. Not a small feat for anyone, let alone a 14 year old. Student innovation surrounding this project has been incredible. From a travel ballet barre to a swim bag to an app for an online tutor to a travel bag filled with health needs, the eighth graders produced services, products and ideas beyond our wildest imagination.

Thirteen students made it to Round 2 of Shark Tank and Round 3 will be held on Tuesday where the top 5 students will pitch their ideas to Kristina Scala and parent entrepreneurs. Success is not only found in finishing first in Shark Tank. Some students have developed lifelong relationships with their mentors, others are celebrating that they've create something from nothing while others are already generating income. Regardless of where the 8th graders finished in Shark Tank, they've all already found success.

If you are interested in learning more about the AEI program, please email Nicole Kruse: nicole.kruse@aspenacademy.org

Read more

by Gabby B., Aspen Academy Student

We are now approaching the last few months of school and this means that the eighth graders will head to high school soon, but not without leaving a gift behind. All eighth grade classes leave a legacy gift and as the class of 2021, our legacy gift is a coffee cart as an addition to the Bear's Student Enterprise and particularly the Café. To me, legacy is something that you leave behind to make a lasting impact on your school and to have a part of the class always remembered at Aspen Academy. To have been a part of something that many other schools don't do was such a privilege and it has made my experience at Aspen Academy end on an amazing note as I know that it will make a huge difference for the school.

As we picked our legacy gift, we had four options to choose from. The eighth grade class voted and it was an almost unanimous vote on the coffee cart. The first semester innovation class began the work on the cart. We split the Café cohort into two groups, while other cohorts worked on filming the process and creating improvements for the store. I was able to take part in the group designing the actual cart. We designed this cart with several improvements such as a fridge, sink and storage space. Mr. Lazartic was a huge help in this process as he got us a demo sink to test and a field trip to Gallery Carts. On this field trip they showed us the details of other carts they had made and talked about the process of making a cart. I have had the privilege of being in the Café cohort and having Mrs. Steedly has my teacher. It has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much and gained many life skills. This work experience, where you are in charge and responsible for everything, good or bad, had us taking inventory and doing financials. Mrs. Steedly has helped us through this process as well. We have turned over the cohorts to the seventh grades to give us time to focus on our business plans. I am so excited to share this cart with the seventh graders because it will be a huge help for the cohorts and I am hoping that they learn how to work in different environments and how to run a business. I would like to thank all of the eighth grade families and parents that supported all of us and the creation of the coffee cart as well as James Park for giving us many of the supplies we are using for the cart. Overall, this has been an experience that has been so valuable and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Read more

hands touching as a community

by Mallory Sussman, Development Manager

As you know, Investing in Excellence, our annual fund, supports academic programs and technology for our students, professional development for our faculty and staff, and financial aid for our deserving families in need.

But do you realize the impact of the dollars you donate? 11% of our families receive financial assistance. We asked one of our financial aid recipients to share their experience and here's what they had to say:

My family thinks a good education is very important and I do too. I have been at Aspen Academy since I was 3. With the help of Aspen Academy's financial aid program it has been possible for me to attend school at Aspen Academy.

I have learned a lot through the years. They have taught me how to be a kind person and how to make a difference in the world.

Aspen Academy makes time for the students because our classes are small. So we have more time to spend with the teachers to make the learning process worthwhile.

Because of financial aid I have the opportunity every day to take classes like digital music, dance, and art. I get to learn Spanish using technology and make computer programs in innovation class.

I am so grateful to be able to go to school at Aspen Academy.

Without the support of our entire community, we would not be able to offer such enriching opportunities for our students. One third of each dollar donated to the Annual Fund goes directly to our financial aid program and the more we raise the more financial assistance we are able to offer. If you have made a contribution to our annual fund, we thank you!

If you have not yet had the opportunity to donate, please consider doing so today online by clicking here. Our financial aid awards will be announced on Friday, February 17 and we hope to be able to demonstrate our community strength by supporting as many families as possible!

Every dollar counts. And don't forget, every dollar is tax deductible, too!

Read more
Powered by Finalsite