About Our Tuition-Free Charter School

Welcome to Aspen Academy

Aspen Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school located in Savage, Minnesota.  We are open to all families in Savage, Prior Lake, Shakopee, Burnsville and the surrounding communities. We provide an academics program focused on the Core Knowledge curriculum for our kindergarten, primary school (grades 1-5) and middle school (grades 6-8) classes.

What's Different About Our Charter School?

Aspen Academy Charter SchoolMany parents seek an alternative school for their child where classes are smaller and education meets the intellectual, creative, and social needs of each child.

  • We offer limited class sizes that provide a sense of community
  • We provide a literature-rich, Core Knowledge curriculum and Singapore Math
  • We have an elementary Spanish program, Art, Music and Phy Ed

Learn More By Attending A Parent Informational Meeting

We hold monthly meetings for prospective parents. Click here to view upcoming sessions. Parents wishing to meet with the Director for enrollment information should attend an information session first as most of their questions can be answered at that time. They will also be able to tour our facility and see curriculum samples.

Our Mission and Vision

Our mission is to provide students with a well-rounded, Core Knowledge-based education which meets the intellectual, creative, and social needs of each child.

Our vision is to prepare our students for future educational opportunities and life in a global society by creating an academically rigorous, literature-rich environment where class sizes are small, and a strong sense of community is built and valued.

The Mission and Vision of 2, 5, and 8

The Mission and Vision of Aspen Academy are living documents that guide the direction of the education we offer here. Staff and parents came together to generate a description of a student graduating from second, fifth, and eighth grade. It is rooted in three main areas of student learning highlighted by the Mission and Vision: Intellectual, Creative, and Social. We will work together to provide opportunities for growth and achievement in areas through the use of our THINK values. We look forward to recognizing the intellectual, creative and social successes of our students.

aspen academy charter school
aspen academy charter school
aspen academy charter school
aspen academy charter school

Making Connections

The Core Knowledge curriculum is all about making connections not only within each grade, but also from one grade to the next.

You will find our curriculum has:


Instead of vague curricular goals or standards such as "Students will understand important people and dates in U.S. History,"  The Core Knowledge curriculum outlines specific content to be covered in each grade level for each subject.  In Fifth Grade, for example, students learn about the U.S. Civil War, its causes and conflicts, and the Reconstruction era.  In Literacy, they read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  In Music, they do a unit on American spirituals such as Down By The Riverside and We Shall Overcome.

In Second Grade, students read Greek Myths in Literacy.  At the same time, they're learning about Ancient Greece in Social Studies -- Sparta, Athens, the Persian Wars, Alexander the Great, and Olympic Games.  The Art teacher is teaching a unit on architecture which covers columns, domes, symmetry, and buildings like the Parthenon.


If we tell students they need to "turn over a new leaf" will they know what we mean?  If a sports announcer refers to a game as "an example of David and Goliath" will our students understand the reference?  What are the little things we want students to know and understand as part of our shared culture?  Core Knowledge takes the time to teach the things that connect us as a common culture and as a global society.


The Core Knowledge curriculum builds on each year's previous content. For example, every grade level does a science unit on the human body. Kindergarten does a very age-appropriate unit on the five senses.  In first grade, we introduce students to the concept of "body systems"....that we have a circulatory system, digestive system, skeletal system, and so on.  Second graders learn about the digestive system.  Then third graders learn about the skeletal system along with the muscular system and nervous system.  Fourth graders learn about the circulatory system and respiratory system.  And so on.  In doing this in each subject area, Core Knowledge eliminates the gaps and repeats you often find in other curricula.


The Core Knowledge curriculum was developed when an advisory board on multi-culturalism surveyed teachers, scholars, scientists, and specialists around the country to determine what all students should know.  This content was looked at in terms of what is important to know now, five years from now, fifteen years from now.  It's not the latest educational fad that will fall by the wayside two years from now.  It's solid information every student should have by the time they get to college, broken down into an age-appropriate scope and sequence.

Individualized Education

At Aspen Academy, we believe every adult has a stake in the success of every student - and we strive to provide an individualized educational experience for each student. Academic success means a student can demonstrate proficiency on the Minnesota State Standards at each grade. We use the Core Knowledge curriculum and Singapore Math as the vehicles to achieve that proficiency. Students are tested periodically throughout the year on the standards. Teachers then look at the data to determine:

  • Which standards does the student know and not need to spend time on?
  • Which standards does the student not know and still needs to work on?
  • What kind of mistakes is the student making that the teacher needs to address so the student can move forward?

Measuring this proficiency, and analyzing the data is part of a larger process all Friends of Education schools have been trained in and implemented called Data Driven Instruction or DDI.

Click here to view our Data Driven Instruction PowerPoint

Looking at this kind of data allows teachers to create Individualized Curriculum Plans (ICPs) for each student. This does not mean that a teacher has 20 students working on 20 different things but rather, that the teacher knows exactly what the strengths and needs of each student are. She can appropriately group students according to learning needs depending on the skill or standard being taught in that particular lesson and then regroup as needed later on. In discussing ICPs, the teacher and parent will decide who will be responsible for what parts of the learning plan to help the student move forward. It is through this strong parent-teacher partnership that we see the high academic success rate of our students.

Starting in first grade, students group for both Math and Reading. However, these groups are truly fluid, meaning students regroup frequently. It's important for parents to understand that we group according to what skills or standards each teacher will be working on and groups are constantly re-forming. Grade level teachers get to know all students and take responsibility for the success of all students.

A Sense of Community

Aspen Academy Charter School

When you walk down the hall at Aspen Academy, you will see a parent at the copier, working on a project for a classroom teacher. A few feet further down the hallway, a dad volunteers his time and is sitting on a chair next to a Kindergarten student, listening to her read. Outside the next classroom, a mom sits cross-legged on the floor drilling a second-grader on his math facts. When you peek in the classroom across the hall from her, you see two parents helping the teacher set up for a science activity.

At Aspen, we ask families to volunteer 40 hours of their time each year. Unlike a private school, Aspen Academy is tuition-free, so volunteer work is important to help keep our school running. Families meet this commitment in very different ways. We have an amazing group of dads who have come in on weekends when we've needed cabinets installed. They come with their tool belts, we order pizza, and the cabinets go in! We've had a phenomenal group of moms who put together an entire file cabinet of phonics materials that allowed us to individualize our phonics program for our students. We have parents who, due to little ones at home, just can't come into the school to help, but do things from home like cut out construction paper shapes for bulletin boards and help correct papers. Other parents have logged countless hours getting our name out in the community, fundraising, organizing events, and other activities too numerous to mention.

But it all comes down to community. We work hard at making Aspen a place where teachers want to work, where kids want to go to school, and parents want to be. We hope you find your niche in our community too!

Engaging and Enriching

When you walk into a Kindergarten room at Aspen Academy, students learning about measurement go from station to station where hands-on manipulatives are waiting for them. One group is snapping together 1" cubes and measuring how many inches they have. Another group has a balance scale and is comparing items of different weights. Yet another group is lining up 12" plastic "feet" on the floor.

First graders learn about germs by washing their hands under black lights. Second graders, instead of reading a story out of a reading textbook, read actual chapter books. In a third-grade classroom, students will dissect cows eyes as part of their Science unit on vision and optics. Fourth graders work on a word problem in Math using model drawing. While there is plenty of traditional book learning at Aspen Academy, teachers work hard to provide lessons that are hands-on and engaging. Students learn by doing whenever possible.

In addition, all classrooms have Smart Board technology. We subscribe to United Streaming through Discovery Education, in which teachers have access to over 40,000 images and videos that enhance classroom learning. We have laptop computers for student use. From Kindergarten on up, students have Spanish several times a week. They have Art, Music, and Physical Education as well. Starting in 4th grade, students learn Latin which helps them with grammar and vocabulary. Field trips complement the curriculum, or we bring speakers and activities into the classroom. And of course, we have fun! Events like School Spirit Week, I Love to Read Month, and Track and Field Day are all activities students look forward to.

Recognized 2016 “High-Quality Charter School”

Aspen Academy has been identified as a 2016 “High-Quality Charter School” and eligible for a significant expansion/replication grant from Minnesota’s federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant project. This identification is based on multiple measures of our school’s academic, operational and financial performance. Thirty-five of Minnesota’s charter schools were identified as HQCS.

Character Development

Aspen Academy Charter School

We foster character development by teaching our students to learn and apply our Aspen values: Tenacity, High expectations, Integrity, No excuses, and Kindness or THINK! We work to help students apply these to their intellectual, creative and social learning across the curriculum. What lessons about tenacity can I learn from Helen Keller? What can Sojourner Truth teach us about honesty?

Aspen Student Expectations (THINK)


Arrival & Departure

  • Always watch for your number


  • Use time wisely


  • Try your best and don't give up
  • Use strategies to solve a problem
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Remember: success takes time and may be hard


  • Do it right all the time


  • Always speak respectfully
  • Help others follow the rules
  • Be willing to sit with new people

Recess & Playground

  • Be a good sport
  • Work as a team
  • Try your best


  • Make the right choice, even when it’s hard
  • Stand up for others

High Expectations

Arrival & Departure

  • Zero voice in line
  • Zero voice while sitting
  • Walking feet


  • Toilet paper IN toilet only
  • Use only the amount you need
  • Paper towels IN the garbage
  • Always flush


  • Challenge yourself
  • Take pride in your work
  • Assume good intentions
  • Set goals


  • Eyes forward
  • Zero voice
  • Hands at your sides
  • Walking feet


  • Voice level 2 or lower
  • Raise hand for help
  • Walk
  • Stand safely in line
  • Treat/eat food respectfully

Recess & Playground

  • Follow recess rules
  • Play safely
  • Clean up
  • Have a positive attitude


  • Sit in seats whenever the bus is moving
  • Hands inside, feet out of aisles


Arrival & Departure

  • Eyes on the speaker


  • Clean up after yourself
  • Respect the privacy of others
  • If you see something, say something


  • Be honest
  • Do your work
  • Keep an open mind


  • Stay in your spot (unless asked to move by an adult)


  • Own your choices
  • Be a role model

Recess & Playground

  • Be a problem solver
  • Report don't tattle
  • Be helpful
  • Be respectful to others


  • Listen and follow driver directions the first time
  • Be honest about behavior

No Excuses

Arrival & Departure

  • Come prepared with all belongings
  • Have all materials packed
  • Be ready to go out the door


  • Voices off
  • Bathroom is ALWAYS clean


  • Be responsible for your words and actions
  • Complete tasks
  • Prioritize
  • Use "I" statements


  • Be responsible for your choices
  • Make it right


  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Be responsible for yourself

Recess & Playground

  • Apologize
  • Use school property responsibly


  • Make positive choices
  • Choose a seat to avoid problems


Arrival & Departure

  • Sit facing forward
  • Give kind reminders


  • Leave the bathroom cleaner than you found it
  • Leave stall door unlocked when you are done


  • Help if you see a need
  • Share
  • Accept help
  • Have patience
  • Be encouraging


  • Be a good role model for others


  • Show respect to all
  • Help others clean up
  • Make room for others
  • Use kind words

Recess & Playground

  • Share
  • Include others
  • Be a problem solver
  • Take turns
  • Respect everyone


  • Use respectful words only
  • Greet others
  • Help solve problems

Aspen Academy is authorized by:
Friends of Education
200 East Lake Street
Wayzata, MN 55391


14825 Zinran Avenue
Savage, MN 55378

Phone: (952) 226-5940
Fax: (952) 226-5949