Who We Are: Head of the class: Rebekah Jordan
Ryan Summerlin July 21, 2012
The Peak School head of school Rebekah Jordan didn’t intend to move to Summit County. “I was actually moving to California and my truck broke down in the Eisenhower Tunnel,” Jordan said. So she headed to Summit County to see some friends, and planned to make her way further west later on. But her intentions started to wane as she met more people, and were completely disintegrated one morning as she enjoyed a coffee in a friend’s driveway. People were waving as they passed, riding their bikes with dogs in tow. And that’s when Jordan knew: “I needed to stay,” she said. “It felt like home immediately.”Jordan originally hails from Cheshire, Conn. Her mother was a public school librarian, her father an accountant. They both now work on an organic farm. For Jordan, the world of education seems to be something that called to her from a young age. “Other than my brief stints of thinking I wanted to be a biologist or a lawyer, that was where I always gravitated toward,” she said. “I’ve been an educator as long as I can remember … it’s where I wanted to be.” And following her graduation from Smith College in Massachusetts with degrees in education and theater, and a few teaching jobs under her belt – in Boston and in Connecticut – “I knew I wanted to open a school someday,” Jordan said. Right after her accidental move to Summit County, Jordan did the “requisite working three waitressing jobs for one season.” She then started working for the now-gone Summit Learning Center, where she “started really building relationships with families in the county through education, and navigate the really intriguing deregulated world of education that Colorado has.” In that job, Jordan helped students find educational program formats that would work for them, and their educational goals. So when the learning center closed, Jordan decided to continue on with her work, founding Colorado Learning Connections in 2006 around the idea of helping each student receive a customized education. That could mean tutoring, replacing classes, or even reworking a schedule due to athletic commitments. “A resource center for families where they could figure out what the options were, and have help advocating for, and navigating those options,” Jordan said. The center just “happened so organically, and was such a natural process.” Her theater degree – which focused on stage management – actually came in hand when it came to the formation and handling of the business and employees. Jordan earned her master’s in education (with a focus on nontraditional education) from Regis University in Denver while she ran the business.
Throughout her tenure at Learning Connections, families asked Jordan if she would help form a private school or another option in Summit County. “It’s a huge undertaking,” she said. “I knew that in order to be successful it needed to happen at the right time and with the right people.” So, when Jordan started talking with locals Chris and Shannon Renner about the options available, it finally felt like the right time with the right people. “We’ve since grown our working group to be this tremendous group of really energetic, passionate people around the county – both parents of current students, parents of future students and non-parents who have thrown their energy behind getting the school off the ground,” Jordan said. And now, it’s almost off the ground. Thursday morning, Jordan sat in what will be the humanities classroom at the school, which will be filled with students on its first day, Aug. 22. All of the big things are in place for the upcoming year – students are all registered for classes, staff is hired and syllabi are set – while smaller things, like the arranging of desks, still need to be done. But even though a few things are yet to be placed, there’s books lining shelves, lockers in the hallway, and lunch tables in the lunch room. Jordan – whose head of school position is a mix between principal and superintendent – can’t wait for the adventure to really begin. One of her favorite sights is seeing a student tucked next to a locker in the hallway, their nose in a book. The Peak School’s mission is to “ignite passion for academic exploration, and to cultivate learners who think critically, act with integrity and inspire others.” There are two core teachers – one for humanities – which includes English, writing and history lessons – and the other for science, applied math, engineering and technology. The core classes will be taught in an integrated fashion, in two- to two-and-a-half hour blocks. Electives include outdoor education, art, digital photography, Spanish and Mandarin. “I feel grateful more than anything else. It’s really hard not to be inspired by the people that I work with,” Jordan said. “It’s so rewarding to be able to create something, and something I believe so strongly in … to know that we’re getting to create something that is going to make a difference in Summit County.”
It’s a good thing Jordan rooted herself in Summit, since she fits right in with the culture. Outside her working life, she likes to hike and travel, cook and read. She has a 3-and-a-half-year-old son who loves to ride bikes, and is “just an awesome, fun kid.” “Living here changes you in good ways,” Jordan said. “I can’t imagine being or doing anything else right now. This is absolutely where I want to be.”