Third & Fourth Grade Spring Trip to Moab


The 2017 Experiential Education trip to Moab was incredible! This trip provided the students with look in to the past and new worlds that were unimaginable just days before.

The trip started off with a stop in Paradox Valley to talk about the regional geology. Then it was on to Arches National Park for some desert landscape water coloring. This activity offered the students an opportunity to really look at the amazing sedimentary structures in the park. After a quick dinner at Eddy McStiff’s, the group gathered in the cabins for evening activities.

The next morning the students set out for their desert Pothole hike with Dr. Tim. Once on site at the potholes, they collected a multitude of aquatic species and identified them. Dr. Tim then showed them how quickly these pot holes could come alive by pouring water over a dry one and immediately sampling some mites from along the edge.

The next morning, it was time for rafting. Ominous clouds collected over Moab and the Colorado River as we made our way to the put-in. This was to be a mighty adventure through high winds, rain, and rapids. The class made it through their mighty challenge and headed for the hot tub.

The final morning was spent at the youth garden project. Our return home was marked by a blizzard, but all the students made it home safe and sound as better people and classmates than when we left four days earlier.

Written by Ben Gardner, Trip Leader and Third and Fourth Grade Teacher.

For photos of the trip please visit Flickr

To view the presentation slideshow please visit Vimeo

Ninth and Tenth Graders Travel to Costa Rica

The 9th and 10th grade TMS students traveled to the jungles and beaches on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica for their spring experiential education trip this year.   After arriving in the capital of San Jose, the group flew on a small propeller plane to the town of Puerto Jimenez.  On the flight, the students basked in views of the surrounding volcanoes, jungles, beaches, and Corcovado National Park,  where they would spend the first four days of their trip camping, hiking, and exploring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile staying at La Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park, the students were fortunate to see monkeys, toucans, tapirs, and a variety of flora and fauna with their local guides, Luis and Fabricio.  After the Corcovado portion of the trip, they traveled north along the Pacific Coast to the beach town of Dominical.  Students spent the week living with local families in homestays where they practiced their Spanish skills and learned about Costa Rican – “Tico” – culture. In the mornings, students attended language school in small classes based on their ability.  During the afternoons, students took surfing lessons and progressed to the level where everyone was able to paddle out past the break in order to catch bigger waves.

After the week in Dominical, they traveled inland to the Turrialba Volcano area and spent four days at La Marta Wildlife Refuge Lodge,  the oldest existing refuge in the country. While at La Marta, students studied orchids and birds and encountered more than eighty species of birds and witnessed the rare, “cat-face” orchid.


The last day of the trip was an adventurous day in the jungle.  Students zip-lined along the tree canopy, rappelled down multiple waterfalls, and traversed hanging monkey-bridges before a brief stop in San Jose to purchase last minute souvenirs.

The biennial Costa Rica trip has become a staple of the TMS Experiential Education Program, and the 2017 trip built upon the successes of the past five previous trips.

¡Pura Vida!

For photos of this trip please visit Flickr

To view the presentation on learning video visit Vimeo


7th and 8th Graders Retrace the Footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement

This spring, the 7th and 8th grade students traveled to Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia to retrace our nation’s struggle for equality and the Civil Rights Movement.  Starting in Atlanta, Georgia at the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., students explored the root causes, people, and precipitating events leading up to the passage of the Civil Right act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Along their journey, the class visited the major sites of the Civil Rights movement. From attending church services at the historic 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, to marching across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, students confronted the dark history of segregation as well as the warmth and welcome arms of those who shared their personal stories from the movement with them.

IMG_3953Like any Mountain School adventure, there was a mix of work and play. Baseball games and bike tours rounded out the itinerary.  Spending a night in the Cumberland Caverns and catching a country music show at the Grand Ole Opry added to the experience, as students came to see the South as not only a center for the Civil Rights Movement, but a culturally and geographically diverse region, as well.

Returning to Atlanta, having visited the churches where the KKK detonated bombs, talked with Civil Rights activists who experienced racial motivated police brutality and threats, and stood where MLK was assassinated, the students came to see that our nation’s struggle for equality is ongoing, and while we have made tremendous progress, we still have more to learn and a long way to go to bring true equality to all.

Written by Andy Shoff, Trip Leader and Associate Head of School.

To view photos of the trip please visit Flickr

To view the presentation on learning video please visit Vimeo


Everyone’s Doing the Dinosaur!


This Spring, the Telluride Mountain School first and second grade students traveled to Fruita, Colorado where they spent three days exploring the Morrison Formation.

The Morrison Formation is a sequence of upper Jurassic Sedimentary rock where many dinosaur fossils have been found.  Students began their exploration with a visit to the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey Museum. The Dinosaur Journey displayed real fossils, cast skeletons and robotic reconstructions of dinosaurs found in and around Western Colorado. At the museum, students were able to investigate fragments of bones, dinosaur footprints and real, live fish that survived extinction. Students made connections through hands-on experiences with paleontology digs and exposure to a working laboratory where scientists are piecing together bone fragments from local quarry sites.

Students then spent a day on a 25-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Lomo to Ruby Horsethief, where they experienced local flora and fauna from juniper trees to bald eagles. Along the river, students were surrounded by cliff faces with some of the oldest geological rock in all of Colorado. 18402658_1556318864391996_3849473205354267549_n

The trip came to a close with a hike to Rabbit Valley on the Trail through Time. The hike bridged classroom research to real life evidence of Jurassic fossils that are preserved in sedimentary rock and available for students to touch and examine close-up. Throughout the trip, adventure, songs, and reflection provided meaningful experiences for individual growth and class bonding.

For a fun video recap of their trip please visit Vimeo

A photo gallery can also be viewed on Flickr

Written by Jordan Burlison, first and second grade teacher.


Eleventh and twelfth Grade Visit Chile

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This spring, the 11th and 12th grade class embarked on a trip of a lifetime! The students spent three weeks immersed in Chilean culture. The trip was one part backpacking and wilderness skills, another part Environmental Science, and a third part Spanish and Latin American history.

Students began the trip with a pack on, hiking the new Patagonia National Park. In this pristine, turquoise-lake filled landscape, they reinforced essential skills such as river crossings, navigation, and back-country cooking and hygiene. From there, they did a farm-stay and  learned more about hike the region’s ecology and geology along the way.

Farm Stay

Throughout both backpacking components, they discussed Chile’s land management issues: the balance of wilderness and farmland, river preservation, and the national park vision. Finally, they traveled to Santiago and Valparaiso, where they learned about the nation’s history, both traditional and contemporary, brushed up on Spanish, sampled seafood, and walked art-filled streets.

To view photos of this trip click Flickr

Written by Emily Shoff, Trip Leader and Upper School Humanities Teacher


Upcoming Spring Experiential Trips

Each spring the Telluride Mountain School sends its students out into the greater world for their experiential education programs.  These programs range from 3 days for the first and second grade students to 3 weeks for the ninth through 12th grade students.  While out on their experiential education programs, students immerse themselves in place-based learning opportunities that bring education to life.

This year the students will be participating in the following programs:

1/2 – Dinosaur Discovery in Fruita, CO
3/4 – Desert Adaptations in Moab, UT
5/6 – Ancients of the Southwest; Past and Present in the Four Corners Region
7/8 – Civil Rights in the Southern US
9/10 – Biodiversity, Spanish Immersion and Costa Rican Culture in Costa Rica
11/12 – Ecological Restoration, Climate Change and Chilean Culture in Patagonia

These experiences offer TMS students the ability to be first hand observers, researchers and explorers.  They help form lasting bonds between classmates, teachers and people they meet along their travels.  They inspire debate, action and further research, which students undertake upon their return to TMS in the form of an immersion project.  And perhaps most importantly these trips teach the students to be active, respectful travelers, critical thinkers and global citizens rather than passive tourists.

Community Science Explores Energy

DSC_0364In the last two weeks of February the 9th and 10th grade students participated in an Energy Unit for their Community Science class. Community Science is an experiential educational unit that incorporates field trips, presentations from industry professionals and classwork into an in depth look at energy. The Energy Unit focused on the lifecycle of energy from extraction or construction to consumption, renewable energy vs. non-renewable energy and the pros and cons of different energy sources. The field trips took us to the Ouray Hydro Plant, Norwood’s new solar farm and the Nucla New Horizon Coal Mine and Power Plant. DSC_0393

For their final project students were split into teams, each of which represented a different source of energy. These groups presented on what percentage of the San Miguel energy portfolio their energy source should occupy in San Miguel county in 10 years. This presentation took place in front of a guest panel composed of our county commissioners Kris Holstrom and Hilary Cooper as well as Kim Wheels of EcoAction Partners.

DSC_0357Special Thanks to the following people for helping to make this unit possible. Kim Wheels, Paul Hora, Ted Brewster, Ben Gardner, Hilary Cooper, Kris Holstrom, Greg Keller, Eric Jacobsen and everyone at the Nucla New Horizon Mine and Power Plant!

For more photos please visit: Flickr

Winter Ecology High Camp Hut Trip


This week the 7th and 8th Grade students packed their bags, put on their snowshoes and hiked up to High Camp Hut for a three day, two night Snow Safety and Winter Ecology program. The cozy log cabin, warm fireplace, blue skies and fresh snow made for a memorable experience!

-9Students learned about snow safety with Josh Butson of San Miguel Mountain Adventures and The Avalanche School. They dug snow pits, identified layers in the snow-pack and learned how to use a beacon shovel and probe.

For Winter Ecology they studied animal tracks, insulation and how animals survive winter, snow water equivalent and temperature. Each afternoon they sledded, played games and enjoyed the scenery. Nights were spent eating good food, playing games and reading.

-6Being surrounded by the San Juan Mountains in winter is a special experience. Each student left knowing more about the winter world around them, how to enjoy it safely and continue to investigate this magical season.

For more photos of the trip please visit: Flickr


Telluride Mountain School Authorized IB World School

dp-programme-logo-enAfter three years of preparation, Telluride Mountain School is proud to announce their new authorization as an International Baccalaureate World School. As of January 2017, Telluride Mountain School received its official approval to offer the prestigious Diploma Program; it is the only independent school in the state of Colorado to offer the program.

The IB Diploma Program will launch for the 11th and 12th grade students beginning in the fall of 2017.  For current underclassmen and prospective juniors and seniors at Telluride Mountain School, this implementation means an opportunity to participate in an internationally accredited and recognized college preparatory program. The IB Diploma Program is rigorous and will challenge students across the curriculum and further develop their critical thinking, communication, and creativity through classroom activities and independent projects.

Often compared to the AP program, the IB program is distinctive in a number of ways.  While both programs offer courses in which a student may earn advanced standing or credit in college, the IB Diploma Program offers a holistic approach with a global mindset and continuity between subjects over a two-year period. Through studies in six core subject groups in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics and the arts, the program broadens students’ educational experiences and challenges them to apply their knowledge and skills across the integrated curriculum. Additionally, students complete a set of core, interdisciplinary courses, including a critical thinking course titled Theory of Knowledge, independent coursework in Creativity, Activity and Service, and an independent Extended Essay, an in-depth, college-level research paper on a topic drawn from one of the core IB subject areas.

While all juniors and seniors at TMS will participate in the program, they may decide whether or not to attempt the full set of requirements for the IB diploma, a coveted distinction of high academic accomplishment. To earn the diploma, students must complete all course requirements, sit for six essay-format exams, three at the standard level and three at the higher level, and earn individual and cumulative scores that represent sufficient mastery across the six subjects.  Students who do not wish to sit all six exams can choose which individual IB exams they wish to take. Passing scores on individual exams can equate to college credit or advanced standing while undertaking the full set of exams places students in a pool of highly competitive students from around the world and creates a significant advantage for students applying to the most selective colleges.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program will comprise the core academic program at Telluride Mountain School for juniors and seniors. The cost of the program is included in tuition, with additional fees charged for the elective exams.  Students in the IB Diploma Program will also continue to participate in traditional Telluride Mountain School activities, including the school’s outdoor education, winter sports, and international experiential travel programs, where they will have the opportunity to build relationships with students from other IB schools.  This year’s juniors and seniors have planned travel to the Patagonia region of Chile for field studies in ecology, geology, and environmental science as well as a visit to an IB World School in Santiago. The school leadership envisions future exchanges and cohort activities within the worldwide network of  IB World Schools.

For more information pertaining to the IB Diploma Program please contact Andy Shoff, Associate Head of School at (970) 728-1969 or by email: