Taking a New Approach to Educational Activities


One retired teacher in Pagosa Springs wants to help local students in southwest Colorado expand their horizons through unique experiences. Flowstone Education is the brainchild of Cheetah & Brad McClellan and aims to provide low-income students in Colorado with workshops and summer camps designed to expand their horizons and expose them to opportunities beyond their hometowns. Workshops are led by local experts in fields ranging from beauticians to screenwriters, YouTubers to cooks, and more. By Hannah Robertson This story is sponsored by Service Master Restore and The Payroll Department

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When some people retire, they look to spend the next few years traveling, relaxing, spending time with friends and loved ones. And some, like Cheetah McClellan, decide to start a nonprofit to better serve students and youth in their communities. McClellan started Flowstone Education, a nonprofit based out of Pagosa Springs, with the idea that every child, no matter their background, should have the chance to explore areas of interest that may fall outside of traditional classroom settings. You're watching the "Local NEWS Network" brought to you by ServiceMaster Restore and The Payroll Department. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

I've been in education for 14 years, and one thing that I noticed was that kids who travel and explore and have those opportunities to kind of get out of their neighborhood have a little better academic success, emotional regulation, self-confidence, empathy, compassion. All of those things seem to be kind of heightened when they're able to get out and explore.

McClellan founded Flowstone, which will host its first workshop in January, 2023, to provide free opportunities to underserved students, primarily in Southwest Colorado. The January workshop is on filmmaking and screenwriting and will be led by locals who have experience in these areas. McClellan wants to provide monthly workshops like this one that will feature locals in that specific industry so that students have the opportunity to explore all sorts of different interests and career options. After teaching for over seven years, McClellan wants to do something she felt she never had the opportunity to do in the classroom.

And I just continually found myself in a position where I couldn't really dive into topics with kids that I really wanted to. And then also just that component of like, how do I get kids out horseback riding into Mesa Verde, you know, on a regular basis without having to kind of go through the district again, be limited by time and the scopes that they have on them? So it was really just, I wanted to kind of teach in my own way and do my own thing in terms of you're also not really encouraged in a classroom situation to talk about things like social justice or environmental justice.

While Flowstone is still in its infancy, McClellan already has ideas and plans for the summer and beyond. In addition to the monthly workshops, McClellan and her husband plan to offer a summer camp of sorts, taking underserved students from Denver down to their property in Pagosa Springs to show them the sites and activities of the Southwest, and taking underserved students from Southwest Colorado up to Denver to see the city.

But we want to take them to Denver, and we want to take them to Meow Wolf. We want to take them to see a play at the Denver Arts Center. We want to take them to the downtown library, which is five stories high. You know, it's a very cool place. And just kind of expose them to that metropolitan lifestyle and arts. Again, everything will sort of be connected to the arts and history and a social component of what they can kind of take. And also hoping that both of these sets of kids and communities will see that they really are connected and they're not that different. They just have a different thing around them.

Flowstone is actively looking for volunteers to help lead the monthly workshops and to provide transportation for students attending the workshops from the surrounding areas. As one of the goals of Flowstone is to keep events free for participating students, the organization is offering corporate sponsorships as a way for local community companies to be involved with the mission of the organization.

Our mission is to foster a more creative, sustainable, equitable world through unique educational opportunities for underserved Colorado youth.

Learn more about upcoming workshops like the January filmmaking and screenwriting workshop. Sign up to volunteer and read more about the mission of Flowstone at flowstonecolorado.org. Thank you for watching this edition of the "Local NEWS Network." I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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