About Us

AXIS Colorado began with a couple of families and quickly grew into a community movement.

AXIS Colorado is a community movement

AXIS Colorado is a community movement working to expand language and cultural opportunities in and around Fort Collins, Colorado. AXIS International Academy and Preschool are part of AXIS Colorado.

The AXIS Colorado co-founders are two moms who know the value learning a second (or third) language brings to the life of a child, our community, and our world. They tried other local language learning options, but none met expectations. 


They were inspired...


...by top-notch international schools they had visited across the world, where students receive an excellent international education through a whole child approach, all while learning a second language through immersion. Many of these schools are private schools, and at $17,000+ per student per year these schools are not an option for most families. They decided all kids deserve an opportunity to receive this type of education, and they set out to create it for their children and their community.

đź’ˇ Through conversation after conversation and meeting after meeting,...

...the AXIS movement gained strong momentum. 

Family after family and community member after community member joined in. 

These families and community members...

...brought great expertise across critical areas necessary for the short and long-term success of AXIS International Academy and Preschool. AXIS is a true local school built by local experts and families with our children's and community's best interest at heart. AXIS International Academy will open in September 2019 and plans to be located in south central Fort Collins. We will announce our exact location in early 2019. 


For most kids...


...the best model for learning a second language is through a full-day school. However, AXIS Colorado understands attending a full-day language school may not be an option for all families, and so AXIS Colorado connects families with other language learning opportunities: language classes/tutors, homeschool classes, and our World Explorers group.

Our Vision and Mission

AXIS Colorado and AXIS International Academy and Preschool

AXIS Colorado is the community movement working to expand language and cultural opportunities to communities in and around Fort Collins, Colorado. AXIS International Academy and Preschool are part of the AXIS Colorado movement.

Vision and Mission

Vision: Empowering citizens of character to thrive in their local and global community and in life.

Mission:  By advancing academic excellence, cross-cultural competence, multilingualism, and social-emotional and cognitive development, AXIS Colorado and AXIS International Academy and Preschool empowers children to lead choice-filled lives and be thriving citizens of character in their local and global community.

AXIS is an Acronym of Our Priorities

  • A - Academic Excellence
  • X - Cross-Cultural Competence
  • I - Immersion in World Languages
  • S - Social-emotional and Cognitive Skills Development

More about these can be found here.

AXIS Leadership Team

Kari Anne Calarco


and Co-founder 

AXIS International Academy

info@AXIScolorado.org (970) 372-2374


Kari Anne Calarco brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit management at Teach For America and in education as a former K-5 teacher, instructional coach, administrator, university researcher, and professor. She has over four years of graduate coursework across the areas of educational psychology, culturally and linguistically diverse students, and special education.

Kari Anne Calarco spent her childhood in rural Indiana. After graduating from Indiana University, Kari joined Teach For America, an AmeriCorps leadership program where members teach in low income, high-need areas. For nearly a decade she was a special education teacher, instructional coach, and administrator in over 20 schools (including charter schools) in low-income communities across Los Angeles. During this time she reformed schools using research-based practices, completed her Masters’ in Special Education, taught graduate courses, and began Doctoral studies at UCLA in Educational Psychology researching Language, Literacy, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS). 

While working in the Los Angeles Unified Schools District, she was in awe of the over 90 languages spoken across the district and by the vast number of multi-lingual colleagues and friends. This ignited a passion for languages and cultural learning, and she pledged that her children would be multilingual. Her family relocated to Fort Collins, Colorado in 2011, and after working for one year in Poudre School District she became a stay at home mom to her two young sons, who are learning French and will eventually add Spanish. In March of 2018, she teamed up with Jenny Whitaker to found AXIS International Academy. 

She is a founder of AXIS because she is dedicated to empowering children with an exceptional education offering bilingualism, cultural competence, and academic excellence. In addition to learning French, Kari loves to travel, garden and be outdoors, and spend time with friends and family.

Jenny Whitaker


Business Manager and Co-founder 

AXIS International Academy

jenny@AXIScolorado.org  (970) 403-7338

Jenny Whitaker is mom to three young French language learners and a French learner herself. She has a strong background in marketing and development and a passion for language learning. Through the founding of AXIS Colorado and AXIS International Academy, she has developed key skills in organizational finance, operations, and school accountability.

Jenny Whitaker spent her childhood in southern California. She received her Bachelor's degree in Communications and Marketing and spent many years working in Development at the Children’s Hospital Foundation. In this role she executed actions across a variety of areas: marketing, advertising, event planning, fundraising, and donor relations. 

In 2010, her family began an overseas adventure and relocated to Switzerland. This launched an exciting journey of language immersion and cultural learning for her and her family.

They returned to Northern Colorado in 2012, and Jenny has been committed to continuing the language and cultural learning of her family. Since 2012 she has been a full-time mom and volunteer at her children’s charter school serving on the School Accountability Committee and leading fundraising and parent engagement events. 

She joined forces with Kari to found AXIS International Academy in March 2018. Starting a charter school has been an all-consuming endeavor, and she has worked diligently to master critical skills necessary in the role of a charter school business manager. In her (rare) “free” time, she enjoys running, volunteering at community events, and practicing her French.

Join Our Staff

AXIS International Academy and Preschool are currently seeking enthusiastic, mission-driven team members for paid and volunteer positions in our preschool, elementary, and after school programming. Click below to share your interest!

> I'm Interested! <

Board of Directors

We have 5 members on our Board of Directors


There's a whole page dedicated to the functioning of the Board. 

Feel free to take a look here.

Advisory Council

Members of the advisory council posses a valuable expertise and share this expertise with AXIS through consulting with the founding committee on an occasional basis.

Cerissa Stevenson, Early Childhood

Assistant Professor Early Childhood Teaching Methods and Coordinator - Early Childhood Teacher Licensure Specialization, Colorado State University

Fanny Kolpacoff, Early Childhood

Preschool Teacher and Native French Speaker

Frédérique Grim, Language Model Design & French Programming

Professor of French, Co-director of Language Program, Foreign Language Teacher Licensure advisor, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Colorado State University

Kevin Nohe, Mandarin Programming

Manager, Confucius Institute, Colorado State University

Kim Austin Mbadinga-Nzamba, Diversity and Social Justice

Assistant Director for Diversity and Inclusion, Colorado State University Athletics

Lisa Sweet, Social Emotional Learning

School Counselor and Health Coach

Melissa George, Academic Programming

PhD, Research Scientist, Colorado State University, Healthy Schools, Whole Child Model,  and MTSS expert

Nancy Robinson, Mandarin Programming

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Colorado State University, Chinese teacher, Former Chinese English School Administrator

Peter Kast, Real Estate

CBRE, Senior Vice President, Advisory and Transaction Services, Commercial Realtor with successful charter school clients

Priscilla Patti, Early Childhood

Buell Foundation Early Childhood Fellow, Reggio Emilia Expert/Owner at Image of the Educator, Former teacher at CSU Early Childhood Center

Kevin Hoyland, former CPA and US Finance Manager for Dunkin Donuts

Rachel Ferguson, Homeschool Programming

Homeschool mom and member of local homeschool organizations

Teresa Grove

Global Vice President, Product Marketing at Experian

Tina Salumu, Language Design & French Programming 

Founder and President, Mission Health and Education in Communities and Congo (MITec) and former charter school French teacher

*Many other teachers and experts in a diverse range of fields have also contributed!

Join one of our AXIS teams!

Not sure where your skills fit best?

Visit our "GET INVOLVED" page

We are Grateful!

We are grateful for the expertise of all of the individuals listed above and other individuals not listed who have shared their time, energy, expertise in support of AXIS Colorado. 

We are grateful for the counsel and grant support of the Colorado League of Charter Schools

We are also grateful for the Fort Collins community, all of our founding families, and our future AXIS students.

Please note that the people above do not represent the opinions of their companies or organizations or employers. The opinions and expertise expressed are their own. They are also not receiving any compensation for their expertise.