1998 -- A group of parents from Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy (then a K-8) were concerned about where to send their high schoolers. They wanted a high school with a rigorous, liberal arts education that would prepare them for any college they would choose and a school that would provide an academic environment for students to learn and develop noble character. Another important goal was the emphasis on the heritage and roots our nation has in Western Civilization. It is essential for the citizens and decision-makers of our nation to have the knowledge and appreciation of our past to help guide us in our future, supported by strong moral foundations by which to make courageous decisions.
2000 -- James Irwin Charter High School was authorized by the Harrison School District 2 and opened its doors.
2002 -- It soon became clear that too many students were arriving at the high school with insufficient background knowledge and proficiency in language arts and math.
2003 -- James Irwin Charter Middle School opened its door as a Core Knowledge school with single-sex classes that used Effective Teaching Practices (direct instruction) methods. Single-sex classroom education is a distinctive aspect of JICMS, and it became the only public school of its kind in Colorado.
2005 -- James Irwin Charter Elementary was founded. The JICS Board approved it as a Direct Instruction/Core Knowledge school with a faithful Direct Instruction (DI) implementation. DI materials are scripted to ensure the fidelity of the meticulous design and methods. Extensive professional development via training and regular coaching allows teachers to acquire specific teaching skills necessary to the DI approach and to achieve a high level of mastery and teach more in less time. In fact, the DI materials provide a template for the teacher that accelerates their own learning curve in becoming an effective teacher as they apply the same design principles in non-scripted curricula.
2013 -- James Irwin Charter Academy opened its doors under the authorization of the Colorado Charter School Institue. JICA is located in District 11 and is a replica of JICES as a Direct Instruction/Core Knowledge school with a faithful Direct Instruction (DI) implementation.
2016 -- Power Technical Early College was authorized by El Paso County District 49 after several applications to various districts, Power Technical (PTEC) opened the fall of 2016 is located off of Peterson Road and Constitution in El Paso County just outside Colorado Springs. PTEC is a pre-engineering, professional trade school that serves students grades 6-14. It is part of the Pathways in Technology program. For PTEC students who choose this path, the state pays for two years of tuition at Pikes Peak Community College so the student can earn an Associate's Degree in a Skilled Trade.
Our Namesake -- Colonel James Benson Irwin
James Irwin Charter Schools is named for Apollo 15 astronaut James Benson Irwin, who lived in Colorado Springs until his death in 1991. Apollo 15 astronaut James “Jim” Irwin was born March 17, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a working class family. He was an ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things through persistence in overcoming obstacles. He adjusted to several family relocations throughout childhood, moving to Pennsylvania, Florida, Oregon and Utah. He barely received a commission into the Naval Academy at Annapolis, squeaking in by a fraction of a grade point. Yet he disliked the Navy, ships, and the idea of sitting on a ship for a long period of time. At graduation he was commissioned into the newly established United States Air Force. He did not like to fly, at least not in the beginning, and almost left flight training. Jim discovered his love for aviation after his first solo flight. If he had quit the application process for the Naval Academy, quit while at Annapolis, or quit flight training, Jim never would have walked on the moon. Once, while serving as a flight instructor, his student crashed a plane resulting in two compound leg fractures, a broken jaw and temporary memory loss for Jim. He not only survived, but also overcame these health impairments to become a test fighter pilot.
Although initially passed over for service with the space program, James Irwin’s persistence led to successful graduation from Space School and acceptance into the Astronaut Corps one month prior to the age cutoff.
In 1965, Jim, his wife Mary, and their four children, Joy, Jill, Jimmy, and Jan moved from Edwards Air Force Base to the Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs. In March of 1973, little Joe would join the family via an orphanage in Saigon.
James Irwin was a famous explorer, not only of the surface of the Moon, but also of the surface of the Earth, assisting in efforts to discover Noah’s Ark. James Irwin is a contemporary hero and role model for our student body. He epitomizes the character qualities that lead to success and is a standard of excellence in which we encourage our students to endeavor.
James Irwin pursued excellence in academics, his profession, his family, and in his community service. He died in Glenwood Springs in August 1991. His wife, Mary, and son Joe, an attorney, still reside in Colorado Springs. The preceding information is from James Irwin’s autobiography, To Rule the Night, which is available in our school library.