Fort Collins High School ACE program.

DSC_0387Klyd’s Closet sounds like the name of the newest Fort Collins boutique, however it is not new and it is not a boutique. It is an amazing little thrift/consignment shop run by the Fort Collins High School Alternative Cooperative Education program.

Klyd’s Closet got its name six years ago when it was founded because it was literally run out of a closet. Over the years, their space has expanded and sells merchandise such as healthy snacks, gently used donated goods, consigned items, and pieces created by students in other programs. The store gives students job, tendering and sales experience. In addition to Klyd’s Closet, ACE facilitates jobs in the FCHS cafeteria and ACE coffee shop. The goal is to expose students to a variety of jobs to help them find what connect with them. Students begin their work experience within FCHS and when ready, generally during their senior year, have the opportunity to apply for internships in the community. This semester, two students have internships with private companies in Fort Collins.

Program success can be directly attributed to the wonderful Integrated Service staff at FCHS. Director of Integrated Services Sarah Belleau says, “Cathy Hettleman has a ready smile and displays great enthusiasm when she talks about her students and their work experiences.  She has provided creative solutions for students needing a more diverse experience.”

ACE teacher Cathy Hettleman is an energetic advocate for students, who believes in their potential for the future. She knows all too well that students with special needs are told what they cannot do. Her mission is to help them discover what they can do and where they will find success post-high school. Integrated Services paraprofessional Patty Daniels shares, “my favorite part is that we are able to support so many different kids. We are able to help so many different needs. The day just flies by. I love the variety.”

Klyd’s Closet is a student run organization and is always looking for donations and/or consigned items. Local businesses are welcome to consign items with the FCHS ACE program. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Cathy Hettleman at

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Fossil Ridge High School ACE program.

DSC_0031Fossil Ridge High School staff is a well caffeinated, happy group thanks to the Alternative Cooperative Education program at FRHS. As part of the entrepreneurial curriculum of the ACE program, students learn the ins and outs of running a coffee cart. Not only do they learn barista skills and cash handling, the service has expanded to accepting online orders from staff for students deliver!

In addition to the coffee cart, the Fossil Ridge ACE program runs the concession stand during school sporting events and holds an annual geranium sale called Bloomtown. In the spring DSC_0041each year, students in the ACE program purchase plant starters which they grow in the Fossil Ridge High School green house. Students then transplant the flowered plants into nice pots to sell. As a group, students chose a charity and donate a portion of their plant sale proceeds. This process teaches students real life job skills as well as philanthropy and what it means to give back to the community.

ACE teacher Joe Allen has fostered an atmosphere addressing the “whole student.t” Each day, he checks in with his students and staff by asking them to rate their mood on a scale from 1-10 and then gives them the opportunity to share why. This has created a platform for students to express how they are feeling and what their particular needs may be that day. Allen coaches students in all areas of job readiness including things that would be easily overlooked by many of us, like thank you letters after an intern completion.

Director of Integrated Services for Poudre School District Sarah Belleau expalins, “calm is a great word to describe Joe Allen.  His calm demeanor makes it easy for students to connect with him.  Also, the coffee cart that Joe established at FRHS is a popular spot for many staff!”


Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Poudre High School ACE program.

Poudre High School is alive with professionally made banners. The source of this school spirit is none other than the Alternative Cooperative Education program’s Sign Shop. PHS students that take either economics or personal financial literacy through ACE are eligible to work in the Sign Shop as paid employees, earning credit toward graduation. Not only does the Sign Shop make banners, they are able to also create decals, t-shirts and other promotional items.

“At PHS, the ACE program is well known for their sign shop.  Students work hard to create professional signs that are located in the community and in PSD.  Integrated Services signs were made by the PHS sign shop and we frequently hear positive comments about them,” says Poudre School District Integrated Services Director Sarah Belleau.

Wendy Tomaschow and Wendi Bryner work together to create two sides to the ACE program. Wendi Miller teaches the instructional classroom portion while Wendy Tomaschow runs the business side of the Poudre ACE Sign Shop (P.A.S.S.). Students are able to experience what it is like to be an employee in a functioning business as well as what it looks like to take on greater roles as an entrepreneur.

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Rocky Mountain High School ACE program.

The Alternative Cooperative Education program at DSC_0356 (2)Rocky Mountain High School is a
constant buzz of students and machines. Their visionary and teacher, Kim Nigro, is in constant motion. She and the Rocky team have built a culture where everyone is welcome and cared for. They are focused on preparing students for the future after high school.

work is a mix of classroom instruction/projects and hands on work experience. As with many ACE programs in Poudre School District, the Rocky ACE program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to try out and build on skills in a variety of job trades. Rocky’s entrepreneurial section of the ACE program is called Rock It. Rock It runs a variety of businesses, including a snack shop, merchandise etching, t-shirt printing and gardening in their brand new Geo-Dome.

Poudre School District Director of Integrated Services Sarah Belleau shared, “RMHS is known for the entrepreneurial opportunities that the ACE program provides.  Kim Nigro is creative in establishing small businesses that the students in the ACE programs run.  Kim’s ACE class is full of enthusiastic students who can describe their businesses to anyone who enters.”

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Centennial High School ACE program.


DSC_0058The fast paced, condensed schedule of Centennial High School is unlike any other in Poudre School District. As an alternative high school option, Centennial operates on an abbreviated hexter schedule. For Centennial, the focus of the Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE) program is job/life readiness for high functioning at risk students.


Each Centennial student goes through the ACE program fulfilling either personal financial literacy or economics requirements. ACE teacher Cassidy Montoya has created a fun, energetic, fast-pace and informative environment complete with intermittent “brain breaks.”

Director of Integrated Services Sarah Belleau says, “Cassidy works with a wide variety of students who may have struggled in a traditional school settings. She has diligently worked to find meaningful internships and experiences for students. Cassidy’s relationships with her students are strong which in turn helps her when finding meaningful experiences.”

Unlike other traditional programs, Centennial does not have a full time, student run business. With the shortened schedule, students have a few weeks at the end of the semester to experience different jobs. However, throughout the semester Cassidy Montoya runs a snack shop for ACE that will fund a scholarship for a graduating senior.

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Do you know ACE? You should!

As small children we dream of careers like cowboys, princesses or astronauts. The truth is that for most of us, becoming a princess is an unlikely profession. Instead of what we will become, our focus shifts to when we will enter the workforce. At Poudre School District, we want students to be the most prepared they can be whenever, the time comes. When a student is supported throughout school with special education services, life and job preparation are critical to post-education readiness. One way students can be prepare is through Poudre School District’s Alternative Cooperative Education program (ACE).

ACE is a nationwide program designed to foster job readiness skills, entrepreneurial skills and career awareness in and out of classroom settings. PSD students fulfill required credits in economics and/or personal financial literacy classes with class course work and on site entrepreneurial experience. Often students participate in internships in the community.

With passionate teachers and dedicated paraprofessionals, each ACE program has created unique entrepreneurial opportunities. Educators become equal parts job/life coach and cheerleader. Each of the four comprehensive high schools as well as Centennial High School participate in the ACE program through the support of PSD’s Integrated Services department. “ACE provides a lifelong pathway to graduation and employment for students with a disability and those considered at risk,” according to Career and Tech Education Coordinator, Kathy Hanson.

To learn more about each site’s ACE program, click the links below:

Poudre High School

Rocky Mountain High School

Fort Collins High School

Fossil Ridge High School

Centennial High School