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Our School

Home to approximately 80 students, 15 teachers, and 10 staff, our story begins in a mountain valley surrounded by jagged peaks, a tiny oasis nestled at 9,318 feet. The surrounding mountains tell the tale of Silverton’s history and its present. The sinuous tracks of backcountry skiers glide by historic mine portals. Ornate Victorian buildings surround the newly constructed greenhouse and community garden. The boom and bust cycles of a western mining town are evident in the cracked facades of brick buildings, the junked cars in front yards, and the shiny plate glass windows of the restaurants and souvenir shops.

In the mining days, Silverton had a booming economy and a population in the thousands, with outlying communities scattered throughout the surrounding valleys. Now, it has a year round population of 500 and is the only town in the county. When the mines closed in the early 1990s, the people of Silverton faced a tough decision: stay in this economically depressed town, or head for places where the living was easier. The hardy souls who chose to stay did so in spite of the hardships that face so many rural towns: poverty, lack of opportunity, isolation. They stayed because they saw the potential in this valley, and they wanted to build their lives among these mountains.

The train tracks leading down the Animas River valley recall the past, when the railroad was the only link to the outside world, as well as represent the present, in which the train brings the loads of tourists who are the lifeblood of the town’s economy. While mule and coal-fired train are no longer the only access to Silverton, it’s still one of the most isolated towns in Colorado. It’s 50 miles to the nearest grocery store, hospital, and movie theater. The roads leaving town in both directions cross high mountain passes with winding hairpin curves and precipitous drop-offs and are closed for avalanche danger and adverse weather throughout the winter.

Now, it’s late winter, and snow blankets the town. The piles of snow are so high that only the second stories of the houses are visible from the street. The only thing moving on the streets is a stream of kids, making their way through the snow on skis, kick sleds, or on foot, converging on the three-story brick building at the center of town: Silverton School.

EL Learning

The Silverton Public School follows an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (EL for short) academic model. EL provides a comprehensive framework to shape and guide our school’s structure and culture. Through this model, much of our academics are centered on learning expeditions. These expeditions and state curriculum standards provide a framework for study by focusing learning on a specific compelling topic; for example, the water cycle, history of U.S. education, Africa, the 20th Century, or the food cycle. Given the small and isolated nature of the Silverton community, the fieldwork aspect of our EL learning model has become an important part of learning.

The EL Design Principles form our core philosophy:

  1. The primacy of self-discovery

  2. The having of wonderful ideas

  3. The responsibility for learning

  4. Empathy and caring

  5. Success and failure

  6. Collaboration and competition

  7. Diversity and inclusion

  8. The natural world

  9. Solitude and reflection

  10. Service and compassion

Focused trips are planned by teachers that bring the real world into their expedition topic studies, and take place throughout the four corners region and occasionally beyond. For example, in 2013-14, the middle school completed a year-long expedition on U.S. immigration, studying the historical aspect (Ellis and Angel Island) as well as current immigration issues. Their culminating fieldwork was a trip to San Francisco where they visited Angel Island, worked with students in refugee and immigrant schools, and toured Chinatown. These types of experiences bring a depth to their studies that cannot be accomplished in any classroom setting.

You can learn more about EL Education on their website by clicking the button below. 

Mission, Vision, & Values

Silverton School empowers every student and family through helping them carve a personalized path to social, emotional, physical, and academic health and success. We want to inspire every student and family to achieve more than they ever thought possible and to do their part to make the world an even better place. 

The Silverton School staff shares a united belief that we must meet students where they are on their learning journey to help them thrive. The curriculum at Silverton School is standards-based, provides multiple opportunities for personalized learning and projects, and values quality and depth of learning combined with a constant focus on revising and reflecting on learning and work. 

 

We believe that we are able to offer a truly remarkable level of personalized support for all of our students, and especially those who need it the most. 

Teachers & Staff

Kim White

Superintendent

Kelly Habecker

Educational Specialist

Academics & Tutoring

Katie Shapiro

Educational Specialist

Wellness Director

Elizabeth Barszcz

Principal

Chris Gober

K-12 Art Teacher

Kevin deKay

Educational Specialist

Trades & Facilities

Sallie Barney

Educational Specialist

Reading Interventions

Megan Corson

K/1 Teacher

Jane Edwards

Business Manager

Natalie Wegert

2/3 Teacher

Hannah Kurzweil

Middle School Teacher

Cross Country & Track Coach

Laurel Foster

Special Education Director in Training

Carl Schnitker

Educational Specialist

Outdoor Leadership & Safety

Whitney Gaskill

4/5 Teacher

Megan Davenport

High School Teacher

Mary Acosta

Cultural Advocate & Spanish Teacher

Rachel Pankow

Special Education Teacher in Training

Natalie Platt

Middle School Teacher

Jordan Bierma

High School Teacher

Garden Director

Whitney Pratz

Communications & Grants

Administration

Heidi Aberman

Special Education

 Paraprofessional Aide

Kim Medved

Nutrition Services

Summer Herout

Afterschool Programming Manager

Destiny Babb

Afterschool Programming Director

School Counselors

Rob Roof

Lee Copenhagen

Joel Birdie

Building & Operations

Gabriel Villalobos Bojorquez & Colin Trower

Our new website is under construction. 

Please contact business@silvertonschool.org
or call (970) 387-5543 with any questions.

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