The Juniper Difference
The Juniper School was founded in 2017 by local educators and parents eager to create an academic experience that grows with each individual students’ goals and needs. We welcome students of all backgrounds and learning styles, celebrating any ability as a strength to be discovered and focused. As pioneers driven to reform the landscape of public education, our goal is to cultivate creative, critical thinkers and compassionate hearts for a better tomorrow. As Durango's only K-8 (7th starting in 2023-24 and 8th in 2024-25), our small learning community focuses on nurturing the whole child with rigorous academics, a robust social and emotional program, and celebrating individuality and curiosity in one coherent and connected environment.
We believe students learn best in a nurturing environment that sets students up to be ready to learn. All students begin and end their day with class meetings that promote community and celebrate successes. Class sizes are limited to 18 in Kindergarten and first grade and 24 in 2nd-8th grade which allows staff to understand and support student's needs. School culture and conflict resolution is grounded in restorative practices which allows for students to self-advocate and learn from their mistakes. Many older students are trained as restorative practices facilitators for younger students. All students receive weekly lessons by the counselor on topics such as peer relationships, conflict resolution, mindfulness, and the science behind our emotions. Despite our small size, Juniper has a full-time counselor, a full-time restorative practices coordinator, a part time-social emotional specialist, and all staff receive training on supporting students' social and emotional needs in the classroom. Our daily routines reflect whole-student wellness. Each day, all students receive an hour of electives, an hour of recess, and multiple mindfulness breaks.
Our primary academic curriculums, EL Language Arts K-8 and SF Math, are chosen not just based on their high levels of academic rigor, but also their connections to our school's culture. EL Language Arts K-8 has cross-curricular connections to science and history, multiple service learning and community projects in every grade level, received the highest rating from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) for its embedded social and emotional learning--a rating that is rarely given to non-social-emotional curriculums. SF Math works well with Juniper's Montessori-inspired instructional approach in the primary grades and builds a strong foundation to tackle real-world problem solving throughout. Juniper uses Thinking Maps throughout the school to enable students to make cognitive maps and support and accelerate their academic needs. All curriculum's were purposely chosen for their coherence through Juniper's entire academic program and their ability to meet a wide-variety of student needs including gifted students and English language learners.
As we grow, the Juniper School is transitioning into a school for expeditionary learning. Beginning with our literacy curriculum, EL Language Arts, students and teachers are engaged in challenging learning expeditions. They explore a topic or theme in depth by working on projects that call for intellectual inquiry, physical exploration, and community service. Each day provides opportunities for quiet reflection — time for students to write in their journals, gather their thoughts, and reflect on what they have learned. Students work individually and in small groups. Together they learn to draw on the strengths of each other.
Juniper students thrive when faced with challenges, like the tree that our mission embodies. We believe our school values support their development into tomorrow’s game changers, generating positive change in our community and the world at large.
Our data speaks for itself.