Elevate: Social Emotional Growth, Academic Support, Cultural Competence Development

  • Academics
  • The Aspen Difference
Jessie Skipwith
Let's get back to school banner

Welcome back Aspen Academy to the 2021-22 school year!  The energy in the building and throughout the community is absolutely energizing.  As we prepare for a new school year, we are poised to jump right in to join in partnership and collaboration with you, our parent community, in supporting our students in a smooth transition back to school.  Our Elevate team is ideated and designed to expand this capacity of support through the social/emotional development of our students, the early identification and intervention through academic competence and intellectual curiosity, and to heartily engage in the life-long growth of each member of our community on a journey from self-awareness towards empathy for others.

Your Elevate Team:

Jessie Skipwith; Director of Elevate, School Counselor, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (Primary Contact for all things Elevate)

Cindy Hewatt; School Counselor PK-8 (Primary Contact for Social Emotional Inquiries)

Justin Wimbish; Middle School Learning Interventionist (Primary Contact for Middle School Academic Inquiries)

Megan McKnight; Lower School Learning Specialist (Primary Contact for Lower School Academic Inquiries)

Having successfully navigated a most challenging academic school year last year, we enter this year with an attitude of optimism and confidence that this year will be even more successful.  At the same time, current research is more than abundant pointing toward the potential impact that having lived through this past year may have on our developing students.  We are here to help.  We know that the breadth and depth of impact on the social emotional development of children around the world is directly and positively correlated to their ability to successfully call upon foundational skills of self-regulation, stress management, healthy sleep and nutrition, and social engagement within their community.  When students are able to employ a healthy level of self-care, we know that they free up intellectual resources and capacity for more effective and efficient learning.

Aspen Academy will continue to address these priorities head-on through daily interaction with the Elevate team, daily leadership and cultural competence lessons offered through our very own leadership curriculum, Future Holders, and the leveraging of personal relationships and collaboration with you, our students’ parents, who we honor and respect as your children’s primary educators.  The impact that we have on all of our students’ growth and development rests heavily on our own learning as adults, so that we can effectively model these foundational life skills for our students to effectively engage throughout their lives.

Current research is also drawing attention to the impact that the pandemic has had on student learning and grade level progress.  In contrast to these identified concerns, Aspen Academy students not only maintained, but in fact exceeded grade level growth in nearly all areas of student performance during this same time period.  Through the implementation of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, all students receive comprehensive and individualized instruction in all classrooms every day.  In cases where a student demonstrates that they are experiencing challenges, teachers work in collaboration with the Elevate team to identify and intervene early to help a student get back on track or to collaborate with families to provide any identified outside support that might be needed to meet each student where they are; socially or academically.  Please know that we have partnerships with an abundance of outside resources for both counseling and academic intervention, and as always, the earlier we can intervene, the better.  You are invited to reach out early and reach out often.

Finally, Aspen Academy continues to be a community that recognizes and celebrates the variety of students and families that we have the pleasure of working with.  Our ongoing efforts with students, faculty and families will continue in the area of Cultural Competence,  Again, leveraging our own leadership curriculum, Future Holders, the school community will remain engaged in the ongoing process of becoming increasingly self-aware so that they are even more equipped to empathise with other members of the human family.  Our families are represented by the beautiful tapestry of humanity and we love to celebrate the uniqueness of each individually across all cultural identifiers and sectionalities.  Whether students are learning these skills through classroom engagement, faculty are becoming increasingly culturally competent through an abundance of professional development opportunities, or families are joining Parent Universities or Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Book Clubs (October Parent DEI Book), it remains a priority of the Aspen Academy community to grow in the imperative area of our community’s development. 

Thank you for your partnership and trust as we get excited to welcome your students and families to this new school year.  Please know that there is always an open invitation to reach out and to engage in dialogue and growth together and we look forward to connecting with each of you throughout this school year.


For more on Elevate, click here.

About the Author


Jessie Skipwith is the Director of Elevate, Licensed School Counselor, and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Aspen Academy.

Jessie comes to Aspen Academy with over 20 years of experience in educational leadership and student engagement. He has held head of school positions at elementary, middle and high schools, ran an all-school counseling department, provided private practice counseling services for families and individuals, and has served as the executive director of an education non-profit supporting low-income, English language learners from throughout the greater Denver area. He is a voracious reader of books about how students learn, how families and communities support developing young people, as well as books on progressive, innovative and dynamic new solutions to many of today’s life challenges. Jessie loves that Aspen Academy provides families and students with a small, nurturing and safe environment that encourages students to take healthy risks, to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and that it inspires insatiable curiosity and wonder in students as they pursue their passions to help make the world a better place to live for all people. Outside of work, he loves to spend time with his wife and two children and enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors while hiking, golfing or skiing.