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.
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:
The primacy of self-discovery
The having of wonderful ideas
The responsibility for learning
Empathy and caring
Success and failure
Collaboration and competition
Diversity and inclusion
The natural world
Solitude and reflection
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
Academics & Tutoring
K-12 Art Teacher
Trades & Facilities
Middle School Teacher
Cross Country & Track Coach
Special Education Director in Training
Outdoor Leadership & Safety
High School Teacher
Cultural Advocate & Spanish Teacher
Special Education Teacher in Training
Middle School Teacher
High School Teacher
Communications & Grants
Afterschool Programming Manager
Afterschool Programming Director
Building & Operations
Gabriel Villalobos Bojorquez & Colin Trower