Top 5 REASONS TO consider private school for K-8th grade children |

Top 5 REASONS TO consider private school for K-8th grade children

Sandy Kent rides her mountain bike on the side of Howelsen Hill
John F. Russell

For Steamboat parents, the array of educational options seems endless. One great option is Emerald Mountain School, an independent K-8 school located right downtown. The school has been educating Steamboat’s children for nearly a quarter century, focusing on developing confident, creative and thoughtful students. Emerald educates the “whole child.” At Emerald Mountain School, in addition to a strong math and English education, your child is actively involved in music through strings, outdoor education, drama and speech, hands-on science, Spanish and so much more.

1. Personalization

Personalization is a key component that sets Emerald Mountain School apart from others. The intense focus on each child as an individual, with different strengths and challenges, makes this learning at Emerald a marked success. With class sizes set at a maximum of nine children per grade level, the faculty can evaluate every single child on a weekly basis. Teachers know their students extremely well. Every student is part of a big family here, and the teachers are able to support them academically, socially and emotionally.

The success of the personalization process has been evident through the results of standardized testing with the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). The highly detailed ERB results are used by the teachers to evaluate the strengths of the child as well as the weaknesses. Staff is able to clearly see what each child needs to find success. Students consistently show more than a year’s worth of progress every year they are at Emerald.

Active parent involvement is a part of Emerald’s practice of personalization. Parents support the school and classrooms in many ways, doing everything from building maintenance to lunch room service, classroom assistance to outdoor excursions. This ensures that every student is known by every adult in the school.

2. Subject Specialists

Emerald’s teachers are subject specialists, passionate about their fields. Their passion is infectious to the students. Where other schools employ a contained classroom model with one teacher teaching many subjects to that particular grade level, Emerald Mountain School’s teachers inspire students in their areas of expertise across all grade levels. For example, the Spanish teacher teaches Spanish to all grade levels, the science teacher teaches science to all grade levels, and so on. This structure allows teachers to help each student grow academically by really getting to know the students, developing strong relationships over time, and building on previously learned knowledge each year. A uniquely strong academic environment is created out of care and nurturing combined with a passion for knowledge

3. Strings Music Program

Learning how to play a stringed instrument is a cornerstone of an Emerald education. Stringed instruments build neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to form new habits and make new connections. This is unique to stringed instruments, and it requires learning to cross the midline of the brain. At Emerald, a strong connection between music and overall learning transcends into math, science, team building, confidence building, self-esteem and more. Emerald’s students, beginning in kindergarten, learn how to perform in front of a crowd, how to fail and then succeed, and how to work independently as well as in an ensemble. The strings program instills confidence in Emerald’s students starting at a very young age.

4. Outdoor Education

In its efforts to create learning programs focused on educating the “whole child,” Emerald Mountain School has developed an outdoor education program for the entire school — taking a love of learning to the outdoors and fostering lifelong healthy habits for the students. Students challenge themselves and learn that they can do things they never thought possible.

The outdoor program is a combination of physical and survival skills, coupled with social and emotional support for the students. It also offers practical knowledge of the outdoors with things like cooking, first aid, map reading and leadership with team building.

The outdoor program is designed to offer multi-grade outings appropriate for age levels and abilities. For example, eighth-graders summit Mt. Elbert each fall and travel to Washington D.C. each spring. Fifth through seventh graders participate in a spring mountain biking, hiking or rafting trip while younger students learn about the outdoors on a three-day trip. Winter survival skills are learned and reinforced during a Middle School camping trip in February. The entire school participates in a campout each fall that includes sleeping in tents, preparing group meals, participating in multi-age activities, ice breakers, art, science, astronomy, geology and hiking (depending on the location). These outings build confidence and encourage a love of learning wherever the students might find themselves, while building the life skills that come along with them.

5. Creating Confidence

The end game with students who attend Emerald Mountain School is really about confidence. One of the primary goals of an Emerald education is to develop students who are willing to take risks and fail in order to build future success, become their individual best selves, and follow their dreams.

Student confidence is fostered through the school’s safe and nurturing environment and the relationships students have with educators, parents and staff. Beyond the standard curriculum, outdoor learning and the strings program, students give speeches and perform in theatrical programs each year as well as a serve as student ambassadors/greeters. Small class sizes are essential to developing this level of confidence.

Emerald has rolling admissions. Families who are interested in learning more can visit the school any time by appointment.

For more information, Contact Debbie Gooding, admissions director, 970-879-8081,,, 818 Oak St., Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.

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