Basalt Middle School gets ‘Trailblazer’ designation for the third straight year |

Basalt Middle School gets ‘Trailblazer’ designation for the third straight year

Staff report

Basalt Middle School has been recognized for a third consecutive time as a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch by the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education. Only one other middle school in the state achieved a third, three-year designation this year.

"Basalt excels in providing expansive, engaging, and rigorous student learning for every child. They have built a responsive, high quality middle school that is a model for our state," Diane Lauer, state director of the Colorado Schools to Watch program, said in a news release.

"Basalt demonstrates that excellence is the result of intentional focus on the whole child and a strong partnership with the community … a caring environment that cultivates student curiosity, persistence, and intellectual development results in a dynamic school where students thrive."

Selection is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a consortium of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.

State teams organized by the Colorado Schools to Watch program conduct site visits in order to affirm that schools have indeed met the rigorous requirements of the award. They observe classrooms, interview administrators, teachers, and parents, review achievement data, suspension rates, instructional quality, and student work.

Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years they must repeat the process and show continued growth and improvement in order to be re-designated. This year, BMS was one of only two middle schools in the state to be designated for a third time. BMS also received this award in 2012 and 2015.

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"It's a well-deserved honor for Basalt Middle School," said Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein. "Nine years of continuous improvement does not happen by accident. The school's continued success is the result of countless hours of hard work, a commitment to excellence, a drive for increased performance, and a tireless dedication to the students."

Staff and students were informed of the renewed designation last week, and they'll celebrate later this spring when Lauer returns to Basalt to present the school with a celebratory Schools to Watch banner. BMS staff will also travel to Washington, D.C., to accept the award at the National Schools to Watch Conference in June and present at the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education conference in November.

"I am so proud of our students and staff for how hard they work every day," said BMS Principal Jennifer Ellsperman. "It's great to have that effort validated and know that we're continuing to grow as a school. We're already looking ahead to improvements that we can make for the designation in 2021."