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New Ute Mountain charter school hires local educator to lead

The Kwiyagat Community Academy logo and mascot, chosen by youth from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. (Courtesy of Kwiyagat Community Academy)
Porter worked for decades in the Re-1 School District, fostered connections with tribal community

The Kwiyagat Community Academy in Towaoc has hired longtime local educator Dan Porter to lead the new charter school.

Porter has accepted the Head of School position for the academy created for students on the Ute Mountain reservation.

“Mr. Porter brings significant educational experience and long-standing relationships to the Ute Mountain Ute community that will enhance the ambitious goals of our new charter school,” stated Tina King-Washington, the tribal education director, in a May 18 news release. “He has deep roots in the community, and his appointment represents a significant step forward in the establishment of the Kwiyagat Academy.”

Dan Porter has been hired to lead the Kwiyagat Community Academy, a new Ute Mountain Ute charter school opening in the fall. (The Journal file)

Porter has over 25 years of experience as a teacher, school counselor, principal, human resources director and assistant superintendent in the RE-1 Montezuma-Cortez School District.

He served as the primary point of contact between the school district and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, including coordinating the Native American Parent Committee, and Southwest Native American Educational Alliance.

He was the principal at Lewis-Arriola and Pleasant View elementary schools, and at the Beech Street Kindergarten. Porter has also coached football, track and basketball.

Kwiyagat will initially serve students in kindergarten and first grade, with the goal of adding more grades. So far, 21 students have enrolled for fall, and the school anticipates total enrollment of 30 students for the inaugural year.

The curriculum emphasizes academics and project-based learning with a focus on Ute language and culture.

The new school will be housed in the current Ute Mountain Ute Education Department building in Towaoc, which is being renovated by the tribe’s Weeminuche Construction Authority.

The $500,000 project includes new bathrooms and exits, upgraded kitchen, classrooms, security and fire alarm system. Two new classrooms will be added.

The education experience at the school will be guided by the culture and language of Nuchiu, the Indigenous name of the Ute Mountain Ute people.

According to the schools mission statement, “Kwiyagat Community Academy envisions a future where young and old learn about traditional ways and incorporate modern perspectives into a new generation of creative thinkers.”

The Kwiyagat Community Academy is authorized by the Charter School Institute, which oversees over 40 charter schools in Colorado.

KCA is one of several Indigenous-focused schools in the Native American Community Academy Inspired School Network.

As a public charter school, Kwiyagat Community Academy is tuition-free and open to all students. For more information, visit the Kwiyagat Community Academy website at https://utekca.org/