Colorado Springs School District 11’s CIVA charter school featured by state

Author: Debbie Kelley, The Gazette - September 28, 2017 - Updated: September 28, 2017

Graduation for Civa Charter High School was held May 27, 2016, at Coronado High School. (Photo by Anslee Wolfe)

One success has led to another for CIVA Charter High School in Colorado Springs School District 11.

After capturing the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award in February for exceptional student growth on state assessments, CIVA is the only educational program in the Pikes Peak region to date to be featured in a Colorado Department of Education video series called “Stories of Promising Practices.”

“We’re trying to highlight programs that are doing good work and bring them into the light,” said CDE spokesman Jeremy Meyer. “A lot of times districts are doing good things, but other districts don’t know about them.”

The CDE will debut the film at CIVA’s first annual Showcase, a dinner and performing arts fundraiser, Thursday at Stargazers Theater and Event Center. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. To register, go to Proceeds will be used for college scholarships and supplement a building fund for a new school.

What state education staff liked about CIVA, short for Character, Integrity, Vision and the Arts, is that the Colorado Springs District 11 charter school is doing “different and unusual things to help students achieve,” Meyer said. And winning the governor’s award shows it’s on the right path, he added.

The video will be posted on

The 21-year-old CIVA had gained a reputation of being an alternative school for problem students, but school leaders have worked hard over the past few years to correct that, according to Headmaster Randy Zimmerman.

CIVA has created an environment conducive to learning for about 200 ninth- through 12th-graders. Under the Quantum Learning Network method, teachers use a combination of visual, auditory and kinesthetic techniques to keep students alert and interested.

“It’s the concept of paying much more attention to students’ state of learning and making sure teachers are delivering engaging, memorable lessons,” Zimmerman said.

Seating is comfortable, with cushions and couches along with tables and chair. Teachers combine traditional lecturing with skits, team projects and other active work. The whole atmosphere is positive and peer-friendly, Zimmerman said.

“Our approach focuses on ensuring students are in the best place to learn – mentally, emotionally and physically,” he said. “Being selected by CDE for this series is a remarkable honor.”

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post,, and wire services.