What is a charter school?

Charter schools are a publicly funded independent schools established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority. The governance structure is autonomous from the authorizing school district.

AIST was granted a charter from D-49 in 2018 and will have its first year with students in 2020. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors*

*Check out our Leadership tab to learn more about the Board of Directors

How is the school funded?

Charter schools must operate with a budget that is determined by state funding formulas and any grant/donation funding secured by the school. The state funds are allocated to the charter school rather than to the district where the student was enrolled. As a school in the Falcon school district, AIST is eligible to receive local tax dollars from bond election or overrides for facilities.

What is STEM?

“STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; but it is far more than an acronym or grouping of subject areas. A STEM approach to learning teaches the four subject areas through an interdisciplinary, hands-on, inquiry-based pedagogy.

The amount of STEM-related jobs is growing exponentially, but filling those jobs has been a challenge in Colorado and throughout the United States. While STEM education is important for both students and employers in a practical sense of finding and filling jobs, it is equally important for cultivating a generation of students with the skills needed to solve the most pressing challenges we experience in the modern world.

As an integrated, applied learning program, STEM education can begin as early as elementary school, with a focus on how the scientific method can be applied in everyday life. By high school, STEM programs are more rigorous and can be stand-alone curricula or integrated into various classes. Often, the emphasis is placed on in-school and out-of-school STEM opportunities to build the deep mathematical and scientific base of knowledge that students will need to be competitive in a future we can’t predict. Students who participate in STEM classes and programs develop a set of skills such as:

Critical Thinking

Problem solving


Collaboration and teamwork



Source: https://coloradosucceeds.org/what-is-stem/

Why is STEM important?

“More and more school districts, businesses, and colleges are focusing on STEM programs for a variety of reasons. Students who are trained in STEM can expand career pathways throughout their adult lives-through certificate programs and post-secondary degrees with specific STEM career training. Meanwhile, businesses need employees with higher levels of training and education to meet the demands of our 21st century workforce. For example, by 2020, nearly 55% of Colorado’s jobs will require STEM-related training or education. Yet, fewer than 25% of Colorado students are earning such credentials. This presents Colorado with a tremendous opportunity to ensure all Colorado students have access to the education and training needed to fill our state’s workforce needs.”


What is Project-based learning?

“Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.

As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing an authentic, meaningful project. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.

And for those who are seeking a more formal definition: Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. ”

Source: https://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl

What is PTECH?

HOUSE BILL 15-1270

Pathways Technical Early College High School is a Colorado initiative that allows high schools to partner with a local community college to provide concurrent enrollment classes that lead to an associates degree after completing 6 years of high school.

We will be partnering with several leaders in the automotive industry as well as PPCC to provide a high school experience like no other. Students will leave with the knowledge and character traits that industry is pining for.

Is this only for mechanics?

No. AIST will offer 3 different pathways for students to choose from:BUSINESS, Engineering, and automotive technology

The focus of the school will be STEM and Project-based learning (PBL). Students will also participate in novel studies, debates, public speaking, and a variety of writing assignments. Within PBL and STEM, each assignment will directly relate to the project at hand.

The same STEM principles that are needed to be successful chemists, physicists, computer programmers, and engineers are required to be in the front line of automotive technology. AIST will be focusing our student recruitment toward students who will thrive in a nontraditional school atmosphere, students who love STEM fields and authentic learning opportunities.

The project-based learning model coupled with a STEM focus is geared to allow students to engage with the information in a different style than most traditional high schools. AIST is designed to monitor individual student growth with a Colorado Academic Standard completion tracker. This allows the teachers to focus on the areas that the student needs the most help in.

How does AIST stand out?

AIST is a STEM high school that uses project-based learning through the automotive lens. The core content standards will be integrated together and discovered during relevant projects. During the first two years, students will experience aspects of all pathways offered at AIST.

At the beginning of their junior year, they will choose to “major in” business, engineering, or automotive technology. Students will be expected to individually demonstrate mastery of all the academic and industry standards. Concurrent enrollment classes will be weaved throughout several projects.

At the end of their senior year, students may graduate or continue taking concurrent enrollment classes at AIST for 2 additional years. Students will have the opportunity to graduate with an associate degree or equivalent and participate in internships at no cost to the student.

The classroom space is used flexibly. Project based learning revolves around a variety of Student centered work. This may look like students sitting on the floor, standing at trainers, creating models, or sitting in a circle. The movable furniture will allow for the much needed flexibility.

We will use primary sources as much as possible. Students will have some access to textbooks, but the majority of information gathered will be from publications, fiction and non-fiction TRADE-BOOKS, and the internet. By reading literature and exploring primary sources, students gain information-gathering skills that they use to independently problem-solve and conduct real-world research.

We believe revising work using a feedback process is essential to student growth. Students will complete multiple drafts before a piece is finished. Teachers will guide students through the process and give frequent feedback. Projects will be assessed using rubrics that set high standards for all students.

What does a typical day look like?

To support student success on a day-to-day level, each project will be made up of a series of MINI-LESSONS, where students are challenged to complete a task or solve a problem. Each of these problems will teach students the necessary concepts to complete the overall project. After the MINI-LESSON is taught, the teacher will follow-up with individual students or small groups and give them more specific guidance/feedback toward their next goal. This way, lessons are more individualized, and differentiation can occur for all students. This allows the content specialist to work with small groups. Our schedule allows for there to be at least 2 teachers to every 25 students during WORK-TIME. Teachers will be expected to track student progress as well as the MINI-LESSONS taught throughout the day.

Do I have to live in the district?

No. However, students living within D49 do receive priority.

The Automotive Institute of Science and Technology is open to enrolling all students who apply. When making enrollment decisions, AIST does not discriminate against students based upon their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, need for special education services, or any other legally-protected classification.

The School enrolls only those students who meet its age and grade requirements, and who are otherwise eligible to enroll under District policy or state law.

Enrollment preferences are given to:

i. Currently enrolled students,

ii. Siblings of admitted students,

iii. Children of founders, and

iv. Children of full-time employees.

v. Students living within D49 boundaries. See C.R.S. 22-30.5-104(2)(a)*

*See Enrollment tab to enroll