Student/Parent Testimonials

CTA has been a life changing school for our son. He was “falling through the cracks” at our local high school and was not becoming the successful, happy young man we knew him to be. CTA changed all that. Every member of the staff is outgoing and genuinely passionate about CTA and all it represents. Their love for the kids, the outdoors, academics, and life in general is readily apparent. Our son never had a day of homesickness as he was welcomed with open arms into this small and close community. He took up rock climbing which has now become one of his passions. He learned how to safely back country ski. He loves to golf, and Dan bent over backwards in order to get him into Durango quite often so  that he could continue to play and enjoy that hobby. I tell people that the premise of CTA is “healthy body, healthy mind”. What I mean is that through lots of physical activity and being outside in that beautiful environment, it helps to calm a teenage brain to be able to then focus on schoolwork as well. Our son is now headed off to college as a happy, passionate, confident, engaged young man. We count our blessings everyday that we found CTA.

Sara Halac, mother of Sam Hallac- Class of  2014

I was a student at CTA for almost two years and they were the best two school years I have had. To say the least, I love CTA!  Before I came to this lovely place, I went to a traditional public high school. I was not doing well at all; I was getting into trouble, and failing academically. Once I came to CTA it was a whole new story. I went from D’s to A’s and B’s, I was opened up to new challenges, awesome adventures, and made some of the closest relationships I will ever have, not just with students but with all of the faculty as well. CTA changed the direction of my life in the best way possible!
The outdoor opportunities were one of a kind. I experienced mind-blowing trips over beautiful mountain passes and through unforgettable canyons. Not to mention-the view from campus is spectacular! The teachers are truly some of the best. They helped me tremendously both academically and personally. I had such a close relationship to them; I felt like I could always ask for help, and they were always willing to give it. Whether it was questions I had or to just give me advice. The classes were small, and the the teachers knew how to work with me in a way that helped me learn. They didn’t just teach us English, Math or History, they also taught us how to snowboard, rock climb, mountain bike, and kayak. I am forever grateful for CTA. I will never forget the memories I made there.

Gracie Timmerman
Class of 2013

When I tell people about my high-school years I always get the same response: “That sounds like the best school ever! I wish I had gone there!”
CTA made my high school years into a joyous series of beautiful adventures. I went backcountry snowboarding in the Tetons, endured snowstorms whilst backpacking above the tree line of the Rockies, spent a month in voyaging around France, formed life-long friendships, and completely reversed the trajectory of my life.
Prior to CTA, I attended a large, public, suburban high-school. I didn’t do well there. I was bored by the classes, contemptuous of my classmates, rude to my teachers, and outside of class I was getting into serious trouble. At CTA the bloc program kept me engaged in my classes. My classmates were all people who hadn’t enjoyed traditional high-school either so I identified with them. I wasn’t rude to my teachers because they became my friends. I was able to stay clear of trouble because the school offers a litany of extra-curricular activities that kept me busy and happy. In short, before CTA I was directionless and destructive, but after a short time there, I became productive and ambitious student.
After the teachers and staff at CTA helped me get my life back on track, they set about helping me prepare for my future. They helped me with college applications, helped me prepare for standardized tests, and made sure I had a hearty breakfast before taking the tests. When I arrived at College, I didn’t just benefit from what I learned in the CTA classrooms, but also what I learned just being away from home. My college peers had to adjust to life away from their parents. Thanks to CTA, I had been living away from home for years and didn’t need to adjust. As such, I settled in at college very quickly and was able to focus on academics while my college peers learned how to look after themselves.

I believe that any student who has an appreciation for the outdoors and a desire to learn can, and will, succeed at CTA.

Max Rose
Class of 2005

I was sitting at home recently, pondering my life so far. My thoughts turned back to CTA and the awesome time I had there during my senior year. It was truly an unforgettable experience , which I will remember for the rest of my life. Imagine my surprise when I came back to the website on a whim, and came across a picture of my self, sitting in a Spanish class. Thanks for providing the opportunity for me to thrive!Derek Junkins
Class of 2011

CTA has all the ingredients: an outdoor setting in the beautiful Colorado Mountains, a devoted and encouraging faculty, their philosophy of freedom with responsibility, many outdoor recreational activities and a focused and closely engaged headmaster. All these things combined to provide a very positive high school experience for my son.

Brenda Bogan

Dear Concerned Parent,

Our daughter was a rebellious and defiant sixteen-year-old who was destined to fail not only in the school system but in life. At the end of her sophomore year she was flunking out of school, hanging out with the wrong group of kids and involved in drugs and alcohol. We were helplessly watching her “fall through the cracks” both academically and socially. She was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in the fourth grade and was on medication but her life was skill a disaster with no focus, no drive, no future. We were frightened and angry. We couldn’t let this young life go to waste. We made the hardest decision that we have ever had to make. We had to remove her from her self destructive environment. I searched endlessly day and night for the right school for our daughter. I found that school in Colorado Timberline Academy. My older brother’s son had attended school there nineteen years ago due to scholastic issues, social problems and learning differences. To present this idea to our daughter we secretly had a family intervention gathering. After much anger on our daughters part and tears from all of us she started school at CTA in September 2003. It wasn’t easy for any of us to watch her go. She was frightened and we felt as though we had failed as parents. However, in sending her to CTA we saved her life and they gave it back to her. She consistently is on the honor roll, has regained lost self esteem and has a maturity beyond most eighteen year olds. She will graduate on time this spring and we are proud and happy parents. We credit Colorado Timberline Academy for saving our daughter’s life and giving her back to us as a whole, confidant young lady who is now looking forward to life.

If you have a teenager that is faltering or know someone who is please pass our message along.  Also, you may contact Julie Oakes @ 254-694-1345 or cell phone 214-232-0905.


Charles and Julie Oakes

I’m so happy to have the opportunity to write this testimonial for CTA. I attended the school for four years ’95-99 and I can’t explain all the great things that it did for me. Before I started, I was a horrible student and I hated authority figures. I was caught lying to my parents for sending me away, but once I started getting C’s and B’s instead of F’s I began to understand how good it felt to do well. Basically my whole attitude turned around. I made meaningful relationships with adults, and my parents and I started getting along better almost immediately. By the end of my first year my parents proposed that I could return home and attend public school, but I refused! I loved everything that CTA had to offer, from outdoor education and small class sizes, to really learning what “Freedom with Responsibility” is all about. If I didn’t find CTA when I did, I wouldn’t have graduated high school. Instead I graduated college and am now working on my Ph.D., and have managed to maintain the zest for learning and achieving that I discovered at CTA. I owe a lot of what I have to this small mountain community, and to the amazing people that make it work. I have always stayed in contact with CTA and recently spent a year and a half ’03-’05 working as a Dorm Parent and teacher before starting graduate school. My experiences as a staff member were much the same as when I was a student. I found it to be a therapeutic environment and made meaningful relationships with the students and teachers alike. I would never give up what I’ve gained from Colorado Timberline Academy, and if anyone has any questions or wants to hear about my experiences please feel free to contact me.

Diana Horowitz


I came to CTA during my junior year of high school, at a time in my life when I had lost my sense of self and was making poor choices that reflected my lack of confidence and hope. CTA is located in a beautiful area in the mountains which became a healing environment for me. My love for the outdoors, which I had left behind for a few years, was rekindled at CTA, and I learned how outdoor activities can be a valuable resource in helping me thrive. The faculty and friends I made at CTA provided a great support system and helped me recognize my strengths and potential, which was what I needed to help motivate me to go to college and make better, more responsible choices. I also learned the importance of taking responsibility for my actions, rather than blaming external circumstances when things didn’t go the way I wanted. After graduating from CTA in 1992, I earned a BA in Humanities from Fort Lewis College in Durango, and an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles. I currently work with persons with disabilities to help them meet their transportation needs. I am also working on a second M.S. in Behavior Intervention/ Case Management, with a goal of August 2006 for completion, and hope to someday work as a high school counselor. The support I received and things I learned at CTA were instrumental in helping me achieve these goals. I look back on my time at CTA with fondness and am grateful to have had the opportunity to go there. For questions, feel free to email me.

Holly Park
Class of 1992

I found CTA when my oldest son was failing out of his sophomore year of high school and was getting seriously into drugs. He hated his school and felt that no one bothered to notice that he was totally lost.

My son, Andrew, was clear that he needed a different school. The schools in our home town would not take Andrew because they were concerned about him not being a “serious student.” We were desperate. So upon the advice of a friend, I called Colorado Timberline Academy.

Right away, Dan Coey, the director, “got” what we were needing. He described that CTA takes bright kids who just can’t make it in big high schools, students that, typically, other schools give up on. Mr. Coey made it clear that Andrew needed to take responsibility in this decision and he gave me dates when he could be available for Andrew to call. Andrew called on the last day possible. Based upon his conversation with Dan Coey, Andrew wanted to go to Durango for an interview. Within one week, we packed all of his things, drove eight hours and met with Dan Coey on a Monday morning. I never said one word in that interview….After they talked, Andrew turned to me and said “I think I want to unpack my things.”

Andrew finished his sophomore year there and went onto graduate two years later from CTA with Honors. During that time, he went from failing teen to an aspiring student with lots of interest in learning and in becoming involved in his high school community. He experienced personal accomplishments in his physical skills in the outdoor programs. He was mentored by teachers he greatly respected and went on to begin to develop his own leadership style. With Dan’s guidance, Andrew and I learned how to communicate better with one another, repairing old wounds. Andrew remains an ambitious and successful college student to this day.

My second son only attended CTA for one semester. He, too, could not find a fit for himself during his first year of high school. He did not choose to attend CTA as Andrew did, but he did get in the car and go there. What stands out about Sam’s semester at CTA is that he gave the entire staff reason after reason to give up on him and no one ever did. He had become profiled by public schools as a “kid who did not apply himself” and he had lost all hope. Sam stayed one semester and came home an honor roll student. The experience taught him about taking responsibility for his learning and gave him hope when he had clearly given up on himself. He returned home to be closer to his twin brother, in particular, and now attends an alternative school here. They would not have accepted him had he not done the work he did at CTA.

I highly recommend Colorado Timberline Academy to any parent who feels their child is bright and not able to perform in their home setting.

Often there are other destructive behaviors because failure is so painful for our children. It is so public. CTA provides adolescents with a very safe place in which to learn about themselves; to travel at a pace that works for them and to rebuild confidence in being a student. The staff at CTA makes a commitment to adolescents that I have never seen paralleled in any other school. They provide individual mentoring that evolves naturally. That commitment combined with their individualized quality in educational programming makes CTA able to offer invaluable gifts, opening doors for students and parents who have lost all hope and confidence in a meaningful high school experience.

Joan Heron

Colorado Timberline is an amazing place. The educational and life skills training offered are so unique and extensive it is difficult to describe them in a brief paragraph. My son attended three years, graduating in 2003. He is now a sophomore in college and, without the opportunity to attend CTA, I don’t know if he would have even graduated from high school. He will tell you straight out, “I love CTA.” The staff is totally dedicated to helping their students be successful in every area of life. They are excellent role models and mentors. I believe one of the reasons for their success is they are not only with the students in the classroom, but also on the slopes, cycling trails, river and the many trips they take together. It puts the relationship of student/teacher on a different level, and it works.
I would encourage anyone thinking about sending their son or daughter to the school to attend the graduation ceremony in the Spring. It is a graduation like no other. When you hear the graduating students talk about their progression from new student to graduate, it gives you more insight to what the experience of CTA is than anything I could describe. I would be very happy to speak personally with anyone about the school if you would like to contact me. The school can give you my number.

Thank you,

Shannon Zwaan

Colorado Timberline Academy provided me with many of the tools needed to succeed in life. Not only did I receive an education that allowed me to have a successful college and working career, but also the personal skills that are necessary in today’s world. As I have continued to maintain a connection with the school, I know that the tremendous gifts that I and others have received will continue to be available to future students as well.

Todd Snyder, MBA
Class of 1990

Contact CTA for contact info.