In our yearly roundup of perfect places to raise kids, we salute these communities for their affordable homes, green spaces, blue-ribbon schools, and giving spirit.
By Seema Nayyar
Median Income: $73,165
Median Home Price: $242,500
Households with Children: 41%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 19:1
Great Schools Rating: 8
When a tornado whipped through this northern Colorado town two years ago, Ann and Randy West, along with kids Alex, 18, Jacob, 16, and Hannah, 15, were among the hundreds of volunteers who showed up with gloves, rakes, and garbage bags to help clean up. That summer, when Ann brought the family car in for an oil change before driving to Wisconsin to visit her ailing father, the repair shop did the job in 20 minutes—and refused to take her money. "They wanted me to get on the road and be with my dad," she says.
Ann, 49, and Randy, 52, an energy company executive, moved to Windsor in 1994 because of the good schools and small-town feel. With its neighborhood ice cream socials and front-lawn lemonade stands, the town has more than lived up to expectations. When Alex graduated from Windsor High in May, his parents asked which teachers he wanted to invite to his party. Alex named more than two dozen, going all the way back to kindergarten. "Everyone here reaches out to one another, and we're all connected," says Ann. "This is a place with a big heart."
Good Deeds: After the high school marching band was invited in 2008 to Obama's impending inaugural parade, the community raised $140,000, enough to send 78 kids—Alex (alto sax) and Jacob (trumpet) included—to D.C.