By Laura Gamble
January 19, 2021

Keystone Adventure School and Farm provides a unique learning experience

Keystone is a place where children play, care for animals, enjoy music and art, and are encouraged to learn.

Nestled in the trees on fifteen acres at 192nd and North Western is a truly magical place. A place where children play, care for animals, enjoy music and art, are encouraged to learn, Keystone Adventure School and Farm is a totally unique learning experience for children.

Keystone was founded in 2004 by three long-time educators, Jenny Dunning, John Duhon, and Risa Wilkins McKinney. These three innovators saw a need in the community for an educational environment that facilitates the diverse ways each child learns. Children come to Keystone from private, public, and home schools, bringing many different learning styles.

A typical day at Keystone

Fiona proudly shows off her artwork (Photo provided)

Under John Duhon and Jenny Dunning’s direction, a typical day starts in the pasture where children care for the llamas, ducks, geese, chickens, and other animals. In addition to feeding the animals, they muck the pasture and collect manure, which is then added to their worm bins for composting that is used on the school gardens. After pasture, the entire school gathers for music where they sing and learn music vocabulary, experience rhythm, and even write a song together.

Children are divided into multi-age groups for learning concepts in math, reading, writing, science, history, geography, and much more. At its core, Keystone helps foster critical thinking. While students grow as problem solvers and discover who they are as learners and thinkers, they also develop critical social and emotional skills.

A school day isn’t complete without recess, and a day at Keystone is no exception. One hour of lunch and recess is filled with plenty of running, exploring, bike riding, tree climbing, and more. Plus, classes take breaks outside throughout the day as needed. Afternoons are filled with exploring the aspects of physical education, technology, COG, or art.

The school day ends with chores. Students group into multi-age teams and clean up the campus by mopping, sweeping, taking out the trash, collecting recycling, etc. Keystone firmly believes that this time of day is just as important as any other time or activity.

Reaction to the pandemic

Theo smiles as he and Mrs. Crunch stand in the falling snow (Photo provided)

As highly creative innovators and smart businesspeople, Directors Dunning and Duhon assembled a task force when the pandemic swept the nation. The task force included educators, board members, a retired physician specializing in communicable diseases, and others. The task force determined a method of keeping both students and staff safe while still providing an educational experience consistent with Keystone’s philosophy.

Ever the creative innovators, they came up with a thematic way to help students accept the shift to a different way of doing school. Keystone became Keystone Adventures in Space And Further! They carried the space theme throughout as they shifted to online learning and on-campus time, all with students’ safety and staff paramount.

Keystone is an accredited private school that recognizes and values each child’s inherent curiosity, nurtures compassion, inspires the love of learning, and allows children the time and experiences necessary to embrace their intellectual, creative, and social selves.

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About Laura Gamble

Laura is President of Redbud Advisory Group, a consulting company that she founded in 2016. Redbud, whose tagline is, “First I listen”, provides a myriad of consulting and professional development services to non-profit and small business leaders. She is a certified life coach and holds certifications in non-profit management and DISC Behavioral Analysis.