Academics

Dynamic Curriculum
DYNAMIC CURRICULUM

Our curriculum is designed to inspire and promote intellectual curiosity, creativity, and individual growth by integrating academics with the arts, hands-on learning, public speaking opportunities, and field trips within and outside of our community. Students learn content and develop essential capacities for future success by immersing themselves in a curriculum that stresses relevant, real-world situations that are presented in a thoughtful and engaging way.

The environment at Emerald Mountain School is designed to stimulate learning and facilitate communication and trust among students, staff, and parents. Thanks to our smaller enrollment and class sizes, we set our students up for success both in the academic environment and outside of the classroom. Regular presentations and interactions between grades for all our K-8 students instills confidence and a comfort level that might not otherwise come easy.

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Exceptional Teaching
EXCEPTIONAL TEACHING

We attract and retain an outstanding faculty and staff who are dedicated to the teaching and development of children. Through the relationships they create with their students, strengths and opportunities are realized and nurtured early in each student’s career at Emerald Mountain School.

Aside from forming relationships with students, the art of teaching at Emerald Mountain School is a highly complex endeavor. We are proud to have created a school where the teachers continue to learn, which inherently fuels students’ learning. Our skilled pedagogues believe teaching is both a science and an art, and as such, continue to learn not only from professional growth opportunities, but from each other. In fact, every Friday afternoon our teachers meet to discuss the latest research in teaching and learning, and how to expand their repertoire of skills in order to fully engage and challenge students.

English
LANGUAGE ARTS/ENGLISH

The Language Arts and English curriculum is designed to inspire students to appreciate, evaluate, and construct language. Students are introduced to a variety of genres and authors with the understanding that each student will make different connections. Students learn to read for pleasure, to understand different perspectives, and to research in order to broaden their understanding about a topic.

Throughout the journey from kindergarten through eighth grade, students express their individual voices through writing while learning to develop their skills. Writing is used as a means to communicate ideas, feelings, experiences, and positions, and students have opportunities to experiment with different genres and audiences. Students are encouraged to embrace writing as a process, and through careful editing and revision, students create a final piece that ultimately engages a reader.

Students’ interests in literature and writing are sparked and cultivated early and throughout primary school. Students’ excitement for reading is embraced, as they are taught the essential building blocks for reading. As the students’ decoding skills grow, they are taught strategies to aid their comprehension of more complex literature. Through whole group, small group, and individual instruction, readers learn the structure of a story and how to interpret the author’s message. Students learn how to synthesize what they have read and convey their ideas during discussions and through writing.  

​​​​​​​​​​The enjoyment and practical purposes of reading and writing become more developed in middle school. Students are challenged to read with purpose and to use textual evidence to support their ideas. They learn to speak with confidence, clarity, and fluency in a variety of situations. Broader concepts and themes related to the human experience are the focus of discussion and writing about literature. Students bring literature to life every year by reading and performing a Shakespearean play.

Social Sciences
SOCIAL SCIENCE

The social science program invites students to explore and think critically about history, government, geography, and economics.  Through studies of world cultures, ancient civilizations, and American history, students gain an appreciation and curiosity for the evolving relationship between humans and their environment, the varying roles of government, the basis for different values and belief systems worldwide as well as the attributes of responsible and informed citizenship.  When students learn about important people and events, they learn more than a name or a date. Students learn about the passions and struggles that make certain people and events memorable and significant. It is the intent of the program to encourage children to gather information from multiple perspectives and a variety of sources. Students must be exposed to diverse accounts and opinions.

In Middle School, historical and current social issues are critically disseminated in a variety of manners.  Students are encouraged to explore a variety of opinions, observations, and conclusions to reach a well-rounded understanding.  Students begin to develop personal styles in both note-taking and expository writing pertaining to a variety of subjects. By exploring historical eras, economic principles, and geographical areas in great depth, Middle School students learn far more than a cursory understanding of dates and isolated events.  By studying social science themes, students gain a broad, conceptual understanding of history, geography, and economics. Through analyzing societal trends from multiple perspectives, students are better able to conclude why an event occurred and how it has helped to shape future generations.

        As the students move from Primary School to Middle School, their ability to comprehend the complexity of world cultures, ancient civilizations, and American history expands as well.   Students explore the role that religion and philosophy play in shaping cultures. They analyze political systems from the past in order to understand the diversity of government establishments today.  Students also investigate technological and scientific breakthroughs throughout history in order to understand their influence on human progress. In order to become a well-informed student of history, students develop and hone a number of academic skills.  They engage in individual, paired, and small group projects. Students learn different methods for taking notes and writing expository essays. Students write speeches, engage in debates, conduct online and text-based research, and employ presentation software.  They also read and discuss current event articles on a regular basis. Students apply map, globe, and atlas skills to support their studies of geography and culture. Collectively, these skills provide students with the means to critically construct their own opinions of human-environmental interactions throughout time.

In Middle School, historical and current social issues are critically disseminated in a variety of manners.  Students are encouraged to explore a variety of opinions, observations, and conclusions to reach a well-rounded understanding.  Students begin to develop personal styles in both note-taking and expository writing pertaining to a variety of subjects. By exploring historical eras, economic principles, and geographical areas in great depth, Middle School students learn far more than a cursory understanding of dates and isolated events.  By studying social science themes, students gain a broad, conceptual understanding of history, geography, and economics. Through analyzing societal trends from multiple perspectives, students are better able to conclude why an event occurred and how it has helped to shape future generations.

        As the students move from Primary School to Middle School, their ability to comprehend the complexity of world cultures, ancient civilizations, and American history expands as well.   Students explore the role that religion and philosophy play in shaping cultures. They analyze political systems from the past in order to understand the diversity of government establishments today.  Students also investigate technological and scientific breakthroughs throughout history in order to understand their influence on human progress. In order to become a well-informed student of history, students develop and hone a number of academic skills.  They engage in individual, paired, and small group projects. Students learn different methods for taking notes and writing expository essays. Students write speeches, engage in debates, conduct online and text-based research, and employ presentation software.  They also read and discuss current event articles on a regular basis. Students apply map, globe, and atlas skills to support their studies of geography and culture. Collectively, these skills provide students with the means to critically construct their own opinions of human-environmental interactions throughout time.

Math
MATH

The math program aims to instill in each student a comprehensive understanding of the value of mathematics as an academic discipline as well as an instrument for lifelong learning. While it is important for students to know the algorithms and formulas necessary to solve equations, it is even more essential for students to comprehend why certain mathematical relationships exist and how mathematics applies to real life situations.  Throughout the curriculum, a deliberate effort is made to make math meaningful. As students’ number sense and fluency grow, they discover more complicated patterns and relationships and develop strategic competencies and adaptive reasoning skills. From the youngest students sorting, measuring, and labeling to the oldest students exploring the principles of algebra and geometry, all students view math as an intellectual challenge and an indispensable tool for future success in life.

Students are provided with a balanced math program full of real world problem solving opportunities.  On a daily basis, students interact and participate in highly engaging, hands-on activities that link math to their world.  Through the use of an array of manipulatives and games, focusing on mathematical strategies and applications, the students become enriched in the many strands of math while building fluency.

Through a recursive program students are introduced to topics and skills that will develop students’ fluency and conceptual  understanding. Core topics introduced include:

  • Data and Measurement
  • Time and money
  • Geometry and spatial awareness
  • Patterns
  • Mathematical operations with whole numbers

Math classes emphasize application and transfer as students use their concrete knowledge in abstract ways. By introducing students to different strategies for problem solving, they begin to look at mathematical problems from many different ways.  Students begin to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them as well as reasoning abstractly and quantitatively.

​In middle school, students move beyond operations with whole numbers, and equal emphasis is placed on procedural fluency, estimation, and mental math strategies.  Students broaden their understanding of number theory by exploring patterns, which will prepare students for more complicated problem-solving. Students deepen their understanding of the strands of mathematics to prepare for the transition from the concrete realm of arithmetic to the more abstract arena of algebraic reasoning.

By 8th grade, students are enrolled in either Algebra or Geometry. Each course of study provides students with the concepts and skills needed to build computational competency and quantitative reasoning. Whether solving equations, determining a functional rule, or proving triangle congruence, students are challenged to think mathematically and to utilize different strategies to solve problems.

Science
SCIENCE

The science curriculum offers a challenging, inquiry-based program that fosters critical thinking skills and conceptual development.  From an early age, students are exposed to broad scientific ideas that connect to their everyday life. Students are encouraged both to seek out answers to their own questions and to question conventional knowledge.  Students learn how to develop hypotheses and are encouraged to think in original ways about scientific principles and theories. Students learn science by doing. They ask questions, develop experiments, and test their original hypotheses through hands-on lab activities.  The science classroom is a dynamic learning space where students regularly collaborate on ideas, tinker, build, and investigate, and communicate their scientific thinking

The Primary School science program stimulates students’ curiosity, wonder, and inquisitiveness. Through a hands-on, inquiry-based approach, students are encouraged to formulate and articulate questions about the world around them. Through labs as well as physical activities students are exposed to the big ideas and concepts in science.  Most importantly, students gain confidence with the process of science and learn that inquiry and experimentation unlock the doors to greater knowledge.

The Middle School science program provides students with a rigorous and comprehensive course of study, introducing students to the big ideas in physical and biological sciences. Beyond just understanding the basic concepts, principles, and ethics of science, students learn how to develop and test original hypotheses, how to design lab experiments, and how to collect and analyze data. Science courses continue to emphasize the scientific process and learning through doing. Scientific curiosity is continually stimulated and maintained through lab work and demonstrations. In the science classroom, students gain valuable organizational skills in terms of taking notes from lectures and textbooks as well as study skills for taking tests that require conceptual thinking.  Inevitably in science, students often realize that “the more they know the more they don’t know.”

Visual Arts
VISUAL ARTS

The Visual Arts program offers opportunities for students to investigate different media, stretch their imaginations, and create memorable work. Students are challenged to consider multiple perspectives and to solve problems creatively through exploration and experimentation. Student art fills the halls and classrooms, providing a creative backdrop that brings learning to life.

Students learn about the world of art over time to better understand the relationship between art, culture, and historical context. In addition to exploring prominent artists like DaVinci and Monet, students are exposed to creative talents, like Jim Henson and Walt Disney, whose creativity influences fields outside of the traditional art scene.

All primary students learn the elements of art and design through fun and stimulating projects. Students explore different media while utilizing a basic framework that encourages creativity, tinkering, and reflection. In addition, the early primary art program uses storybooks to stimulate creative thinking while putting projects into context. Student work is regularly anchored in topics that will encourage interdisciplinary connections.

The Middle School program builds upon the foundation of skills developed in primary school by approaching artistic work with greater depth and complexity. By the time students graduate they have developed a strong confidence in their own work and ideas. The goal is not to produce accomplished artists, but rather to develop confident and creative problem solvers.  is where students will see the biggest advantage in future learning and growth within themselves.

Past Projects

  • Students read William Carlos Williams poem “The Great Figure” in English, which was inspired by the Demuth painting “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold.” They work to create their own poems and paintings in Art and English classes.
  • Students build Rube Goldberg devices and Calder mobiles while exploring both concepts from technical and creative perspectives.
  • Students design a shoe that has to solve a problem. They not only consider the function of the shoe in their planning process, but they also have to defend the aesthetic of the design.

SIGNATURE PROGRAMS

At Emerald Mountain School, we believe the best learning happens through experience, discovery, and reflection. While we value the basics of classroom academia, we are excited to offer a dynamic curriculum that includes the following for every student.

STEAM
STEAM || Science | Technology | Engineering | Art | Mathematics

Every student participates in STEAM which integrates science, technology, engineering, art, and math into the classroom. This multidisciplinary approach provides our students with alternate vehicles of thinking and problem solving, broadens their knowledge and skill levels, and prepares them for handling a range of situations.

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Spanish
SPANISH LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

In our mission to nurture global-minded students, we offer students a nationally renowned curriculum through a partnership with Middlebury Interactive Languages that constantly reinforces skill development and competence of the Spanish language and culture.

All Primary School Spanish lessons include listening and speaking components; writing and reading are added in for older students. In Middle School, goals develop into using Spanish naturally and exclusively, and learning country-specific dialects and geographies. Not only do all students develop an understanding of using Spanish as a means of communication, but by opening their eyes to an emphasis on global connections and diverse perspectives, their potential to make a meaningful contribution to society is significantly enhanced.

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Music
MUSIC THROUGH STRINGS

Every child at Emerald Mountain School learns to play a string instrument of their choice and is given the opportunity to celebrate and share their musical talents within our school and the broader community. Students have opportunities throughout the year to play alongside the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra and with other professional musicians as part of the Strings Music Festival here in Steamboat Springs.

Learning to play an instrument fosters creativity, self-discipline, and facilitates learning in academic disciplines. Plus, as students become more competent in their music-playing, learning and playing translates to confidence outside of the performance arena.

Emerald Mountain School students also act in large and small productions throughout the year as part of our humanities and language classes. From producing films and trailers in Spanish class to writing and developing original screenplays in English class, students are involved in every aspect of  performance, from the creation or adaptation of a script to costume-making to lighting and set design…everything it takes to create a memorable experience. In fact, every year our Middle School students gain more of an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare by adapting and performing a Shakespearean play.

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Outdoor Education
OUTDOOR EDUCATION

Outdoor education implements organized learning activities using environmental experiences as a learning tool. We believe children are at their most primitive when outdoors; without detractors like smartphones, tablets and other conveniences of the modern world, we see that, while outside, our students are more aware they are part of a greater ecosystem and not as bound by social customs and norms. In essence, they can be true to themselves and more able to see others as peers regardless of race, class, religion, etc.

Being outdoors also helps instill the basic elements of teamwork and leadership, as our students often need to work together. Certain situations and activities may stretch a child’s comfort zone and cause them to be challenged physically, which in turn can lead to challenging oneself mentally. They are taught that risk can sometimes lead to failure, but only as a means of discovering new talents and skills.

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