Kent Denver Curriculum Guide and Course List

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The Institutes

Explore. Apply. Pursue!

The Kent Denver Institute experience empowers students to pursue self-directed exploration and learning as they prepare for life during and after college. Students are surrounded by a high-quality network of outstanding teachers, mentors and professionals that provide personalized coaching and encouragement.

"There are three types of student learning goals our Institute program supports: exploration, application and deep pursuit," says Michael Ehrenfried, Director of The Institutes at Kent Denver School. "Exploration is about exposure, for students wondering, What is this field all about? Application is about accomplishing a specific project, for students asking, How can this field help me accomplish this specific task? Deep pursuit is about immersion, for students asking, How does my interest in this field shape what I do?"

The Institutes offer extraordinary educational experiences to Kent Denver students in grades 6–12.

A Different Approach to Learning

In the Institutes, students are the initiators, architects and managers of their learning. They choose what to pursue and how deeply to engage. Students can participate in the Institutes through our established tracks, or by developing their own.

Established tracks have an Institute lead mentor to help students begin their journey, explore initial projects, connect students with an Institute advisor, and draft an initial personalized learning plan. Currently, we have Institute tracks in technology, entrepreneurship, design and experimental research.

Students developing their own track are supported by the Director of Institutes in achieving their learning goals.


A Framework that Empowers Students

Institute Advisors

Students participating in the Institute program work with their track lead mentor to find an institute advisor who supports the student as they develop personalized institute learning goals. Additionally, Institute advisors advocate for students as they seek to find projects and experts inside and outside of our community.

Institute Certificates

For students whose learning goals include a deep dive into the field, Institutes in the middle and upper school offer an Institute certificate at Middle School continuation and Upper School graduation. While certificate requirements vary in the different institute tracks, an approved personal learning plan and a completed portfolio/presentation of learning should bookend the student’s Institute experience.

Institute Portfolios

Institutes do not have traditional assessment methods or grades. Instead students demonstrate their accomplishments through the creation of a portfolio covering five different areas. This portfolio contains artifacts representing five institute domains: (1) engagement with fundamental concepts, (2) an established professional support network, (3) demonstrated impact in a community, (4) developed expertise in a focus area and (5) ability to narrate learning journey and personal learning style.

Institute Staff and Lead Mentors

Michael Ehrenfried
Director — The Institutes at Kent Denver School

Jeff Caulfield
Lead Mentor — Experimental Research

Demetrius Daltirus
Lead Mentor — Entrepreneurship

Phillian Haynes
Lead Mentor — Technology

Alainey Hellman
Lead Mentor — Robotics

Kirsten Landry
Lead Mentor — Experimental Research

Chris Smith
Lead Mentor — Design