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Campus Life Community

New Primary School Taking Advantage of Proximity to CU Anschutz

Compositive Primary, a workplace-based school, seeks further collaborations with campus

Author Chris Casey | Publish Date November 5, 2019

A recent visit by a group of 3- and 4-year-olds to the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center exemplifies the kind of learning experiences a new independent school likes to offer its students.

The diverse group of 16 students from Compositive Primary created wellness posters and took a short stroll next door to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus to share their work with the staff and members of the Wellness Center.

“There’s so much right outside our door for our students to explore,” said Marcie Prokupek, Compositive’s director of outreach. The school’s location is “awesome,” added Amira Ababio, one of the lead early childhood teachers. “I like to get my kiddos out of the classroom as much as I can.”

Workplace-based school

Compositive Primary, currently in a temporary space at the 21 Fitzsimons apartment complex, will move into its new permanent home just down the block, 2345 N. Ursula St., on Jan. 6. The school opened this fall with 47 students in multi-age classrooms for 3- and 4-year-olds as well as kindergarten.

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Amira Ababio, one of the lead early childhood teachers, talks with a student on the playground at Compositive Primary.

Compositive Primary is a workplace-based independent school with enrollment geared to children of parents who work at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, including faculty, staff and students at CU Anschutz, Children’s Hospital Colorado, UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital, the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and the Fitzsimons Innovation Community.

Openings for next fall

The deadline for applications for the 2020-21 school year is Jan. 15. Next year, Compositive will add first grade, which will blend with the kindergarteners, and continue adding a grade each year until the school reaches capacity through fifth grade in 2024-2025.

Next fall, the school will admit 16 new 3-year-olds and fill any openings in the 4-year-old, kindergarten and first-grade sections. For more information, consult the school’s website.

‘Where there are opportunities that make sense, we feel the campus is rich with learning opportunities for our kids.’ – Marcie Prokupek, director of outreach

The school was founded by Betsy Callaway Considine, in tandem with the Colorado-based Considine Family Foundation, and operations are primarily funded through various philanthropic sources. The per-student cost is $100 per month for the extended-year school curriculum. Compositive Primary also offers before-school (6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.) and after-school care (3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.); cost for these optional programs is similar to comparable area childcare.

Ababio said the hours for after-school care are the most convenient of any school she’s previously worked. “It’s very convenient for the parents if they have to work a little longer in the day.”

She also likes being able to walk her students to campus and sometimes even surprising their parents with a visit. Parents likewise get the opportunity to surprise their kids by popping over to be a “secret reader,” or just easily attend any school function.  

Prokupek said the school admits a diverse group of students – socioeconomically, racially and by employer – to reflect the diverse makeup of the campus community. Every student must have at least one parent or guardian who works at CU Anschutz.

Tightknit community

“It’s helped us form a tightknit community of parents who might not have otherwise known each other, but find out they work down the hall from each other,” she said.

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A teacher reads to students at Compositive Primary.

The school’s curriculum blends cognition, character, health and well-being and community engagement. Its model has four capacities integrated into learning: reflect and learn; recognize and act; care and connect; and engage and serve. Most of the teachers have a master’s degree, and Compositive operates with a 9-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.

By 2024, the school expects to have 140 students, but it’s designed with the option to expand classroom sizes and reach a capacity of 280 students.

Opportunities for campus collaborations

Feedback from parents has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Prokupek said. “There’s huge demand and huge interest because the medical campus is so big and there are so many young people working there.”   

The school looks forward to more collaborations with CU Anschutz, Prokupek said, so visits from Compositive students, like the trip to the Wellness Center, will be a common sight on campus in the months and years to come.

“Where there are opportunities that make sense, we feel like the campus is rich with learning opportunities for our kids,” she said.