The Odyssey School of Denver is a charter school, a Denver Public School based on the Expeditionary Learning educational model. There are more than 160 Expeditionary Learning schools nationally – located in both urban and rural areas. The 2018-19 enrollment is 234 students. There are 26 students in each class grades K-8: one kindergarten classroom, one grade 1 classroom, two classrooms grades 2/3, two classrooms grades 4/5, one classroom grade 6, and two classrooms grades 7/8.
Odyssey School of Denver is a diverse, public, K-8 Expeditionary Learning school. We teach students how to learn through a focus on academic achievement, critical thinking and social responsibility, preparing them for high school and beyond.
Odyssey School of Denver students will:
- Take risks and innovate;
- Lead with integrity and compassion;
- Be civically and socially engaged;
- Push themselves to exceed expectations; and
- Embrace learning as a life-long adventure.
Odyssey School of Denver is relentlessly student centered:
#1. How we learn is as important as what we learn
- We think critically.
- The way in which we teach develops strong learning habits that promote standards of character, intellectual achievement and social responsibility.
- We learn from our mistakes.
- We personalize learning.
- We ask students to engage in their world through relevant community-based application, use of experts and fieldwork, and a robust adventure program.
#2. We insist on high expectations for learners.
- We are agents of our learning.
- We advocate for ourselves and one another.
- We believe every student can succeed.
- What is good for the student is good for the adult. Through our focused professional development, we walk the talk.
#3. We live by our commitment to crew and community.
- We strive for a culture of trust and risk-taking.
- We encourage constructive communication where everyone has an opportunity to be heard.
- Our varied identities (including different socio-economic, race, sexual orientation, gender, and religious backgrounds) are an asset that creates a greater whole.
- We are a tight knit community that actively fosters strong relationships to ensure that everyone is known.
- We support each other in our successes and failures.
- When you walk among us, you feel our heart and soul.
Like many new endeavors, it began with a shared vision. A dedicated group of parents, teachers, and community members from the Park Hill area worked together to create a new school of choice for Denver families. Their specific goal was to design an innovative school based on the principals of Expeditionary Learning to serve a richly diverse community.
Denver Public Schools approved the charter in January of 1998. We started our first year on September 1, 1998, with 24 students in each of two multi-grade classes, first-second and third-fourth. Each year, we expanded to accommodate advancing grades. We completed our charter by adding the eighth grade in the 2000-2001 school year. Currently, we have 234 students enrolled K – 8th grade.
By design, Odyssey benefits from the leadership of its staff, its families and its board.
- The Board of Directors is responsible for establishing policies, supporting strategic priorities, and serving as the school’s fiscal agent. (Learn more about Odyssey’s financial structure.) Our board is comprised of representatives from our broader community, Staff Council and Odyssey families, as well as our Executive Director.
- The Staff Council selects two representatives to serve on the board and implements policies so that they are successful in the classroom.
- The Family Council plays a supportive role in guiding these decisions and strategic priorities.
- The Executive Director handles the school’s day-to-day decision-making responsibilities and management.
We focus on core academic areas (reading, writing, math and science) by putting into practice the successful principles of Expeditionary Learning. Students at Odyssey challenge themselves and grow through:
- A heavy focus on literary classics to gain reading and writing skills;
- The rigorous exploration of mathematical topics such as connected math and investigations;
- Computer research and analysis;
- Meaningful study of the fine arts;
- Out-of-class fieldwork and environmental studies; and
- Well-documented presentations and portfolios of findings.
We strive to not only graduate students who are brilliant as measured by academic standards but who also demonstrate strong Habits of a Learner. All students, starting in kindergarten, work to develop six Habits – aspects of character and social responsibility that are essential for a student’s intellectual achievement and academic success.
Students showcase their progress toward developing the Habits of a Learner through Passage Portfolios and Presentations in 3rd, 5th and 8th grade. Students use evidence from core subjects (reading, writing, math and science) as well as expeditions, art studio, physical education and adventure to demonstrate to a panel of trained adults, both staff and community members, how the Habits are reflected in their work.
Adventure and Field Work are critical components of our Expeditionary Learning program for every student. Each “crew,” or class, camps twice each school year, with trips ranging from two to 12 days. Additionally, Field Work trips beyond the school building occur throughout the year.
At Odyssey, we are committed to serving students who reflect the diversity of the larger community that surrounds us. Children come to Odyssey from their homes in Park Hill, Stapleton, Montbello, Mayfair and across Denver. We prioritize our annual enrollment for new students to ensure that at least 33 percent qualify for the federal free-or-reduced-lunch program. Most students return to Odyssey every year; we have a re-enrollment rate above 90 percent.
We participate in the DPS SchoolChoice process. New students who are interested in attending Odyssey should list the school when completing the DPS SchoolChoice form. Check out our enrollment page.
The Odyssey School of Denver is a cooperative enterprise: our families, students, director, and staff share the responsibilities and rewards of operating our school. In and out of the classroom, our families experience firsthand the school environment, become advocates for their children, and enrich the school community with their ideas, interests, talents, and resources.
All families are required to support their children in learning at home and school, including attending parent-teacher-student conferences at least two times year. We look for two or three volunteers to accompany each crew of children on Adventure camping trips and regular Field Work. Families are involved in everything from reading with children during the day to sitting on the Board of Directors.
Odyssey’s Family Council meets throughout the school year. All families are encouraged to take an active role, attend meetings and to vote on issues affecting the school community.