We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristina Scala and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristina, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
By the time I started my career in education, I’d seen other industries and businesses that worked and I could see the ways education (as an industry) could be improved to better serve the students and create leaders of tomorrow versus kids who could pass a test. That was the inspiration for Aspen Academy and our vision to be a national leader in innovative and transformative education. In addition to the on-campus experience we create for Pre-K through 8th Grade students, this vision has guided us to create Future Holders, an online curriculum that inspires students for the future by supporting their social emotional learning, character and leadership development, cultural competency, financial acumen, and entrepreneurial mindset.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
This work is a work of passion. Seeing the students realize their potential, growing, learning, and leading is tremendously rewarding. It’s also important to consider the context of our work in the broader community and world: we’re doing things differently than other schools (public or private) that can — and will — have an impact on a much larger audience. Ideally, we’re able to positively impact billions of students and families around the world. One key to our success has been our focus on mission, vision, and values. By keeping our north star in mind, all team members are able to stay the course and move in the same direction, forging remarkable accomplishments. During the spring shutdown of schools worldwide, 94% of our students achieved or surpassed grade-level academic standards at a time when millions of students were not learning and were experiencing the “Covid slide.” It’s taken grit, mental and physical fortitude, resources and resilience to operate as an on-campus school this fall. Every aspect of our operations changed, and there wasn’t much guidance until fairly close to our Back to School date. Everyone was working overtime to open our doors and campus for our students, while offering a hybrid learning option for students requiring medical accommodation. I’ve learned that our teachers are truly extraordinary in their commitment to our students: this year is not for the faint of heart and our teachers are a stunning example of passion and perseverance. The world should know that education can look different and support students in being ready for life vs. just being able to take tests. Especially in our current climate of a global pandemic, there are life-skills that are essential and a frame of mind these students will have that will support lifelong resilience.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Downtown Littleton is a lovely place. There are great restaurants and shops to enjoy — and a fun atmosphere especially for the holidays. Five Wellbeing Studio and Spa is a must-stop for restoring and rejuvenation.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a number of mentors who’ve inspired me and given my wisdom throughout my career — inside my industry and outside. Numerous friends come to mind from Entrepreneur Organization (EO). George Sparks of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science was provided great wisdom and reassurance during the uncertainty of the pandemic. There are so many people I consider to be close and trusted advisors…