“I love my school, I love my community and I LOVE my house”

In February 2013, Shelly Welch interviewed for a job with Meridian Ranch Elementary School (MRES)
and was quickly offered the position. A few months later, she and her husband, Mike, flew from Georgia
to look at homes near their new jobs. Prime among them was Meridian Ranch—an easy drive from Mike’s
new assignment at Schriever Air Force Base, just outside of Colorado Springs. A bit of serendipity stepped
in when they found their dream home “a hop, skip and a jump away” from the community’s schools. They
became official Meridian Ranch residents in July of 2013 and have never looked back.

“It was almost too good to be true”

Shelly found her dream in a new Campbell home. “It truly was the house,” she says. “It was the exact
floor plan we wanted. And it was within our price range.” Beyond her home she touts the aesthetics of
the neighborhood, the diversity of the residents, the beautiful homes, all the amenities, like the huge
rec center and the constant string of social events that ticked all the boxes.

Home is her “happy place.”

Nearly five years after the Meridian Ranch move, Shelly couldn’t be happier. She’s the Project Based
Learning teacher and Library Manager for MRES. She’s also proud mom to three active kids—one in
each of the Meridian Ranch schools.

Teacher of the Year knows best.

Recently honored as Teacher of the Year for her school, Shelly knows a thing or two about School District
49. “I’ve been teaching for 19 years. I’ve taught in four different states. And I’ve never had the pleasure of
working with a group of people that have so much to offer, are so dynamic and so willing to think outside
of the box,” she shares with a note of pride—both as a teacher and as a parent. “They’re not overwhelmed
with testing. They understand its importance, but they also see and take care of the whole child.”

When school gets cool.

The Project Based Learning program (PBL) Shelly spearheads is a key component of District 49’s
popularity and success. “Project Based Learning is a relatively new educational concept,” she shares.
“I don’t tell them what to think; I teach them how to think.” The district-wide program aims to prepare
kids for the 21st century through critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration. Imagine a
modern-day version of the traditional gifted program, “but it’s gifted for everyone.” It’s even (gasp!) fun.

“I really can’t imagine anything Meridian Ranch doesn’t have.”

When Shelly’s own kids aren’t busy prepping to be the leaders, innovators and team players of
tomorrow, they keep busy with a full calendar of activities. They have access to the community’s many
options, including dance, gymnastics, sports, rodeo leagues, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The school
offers everything from karate and Landsharks (the elementary school running club) to art clubs, science
clubs, play rehearsals, Future Business Leaders of America and STEM Academy (inquiry-based learning
in science, technology, engineering and math).

The kids love their friends that live nearby in the community. “If I had to pick one thing I love about
Meridian Ranch,” Shelly says, “it’s the community of people here and the way that they look out for
each other.”

When they’re not working, the Welch family loves to play. “We have 15 miles of walking trails, which is an
awesome opportunity to get out and get moving. We have a rec center that’s packed with equipment,
programs, clubs and mini camps, in addition to Child Watch for parents while they work out. There’s an
indoor swimming pool and an outdoor swimming pool. And we live on the golf course, which is really cool.
The options are all here.”

“This place is truly exceptional.”

After making history with friends, neighbors and “680 students who know my name,” Shelly is excited
about the possibility of Mike retiring in Meridian Ranch. “I love my school, I love my community and I LOVE
my house!” she exclaims. Her kids share the sentiment. “It just feels like home to them, too, finally.”
As a military spouse, putting down roots is a rare luxury for Shelly, which speaks volumes about the
community. Of the home Shelly calls “almost too good to be true,” she adds: “I’m waiting to wake up.” In
her dream scenario, she won’t have to.

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