Aspen Misc.: Another state honor for Basalt Middle School |

Aspen Misc.: Another state honor for Basalt Middle School

Staff report
Basalt Middle School Principal Jennifer Ellsperman cuts the cake during a lunchtime gathering with students in celebration of the school's third national designation as a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch.
Courtesy photo

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

The middle school learned about the honor last month.

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

“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 as a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch 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 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. These teams 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 Basalt Middle School was one of only two middle schools in the state to be designated for a third time. Basalt Middle School also received this award in 2012 and 2015.

“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.”

The school will celebrate the honor later this spring when Lauer returns to Basalt to present the school with a celebratory Schools to Watch banner. Basalt Middle School staff also will travel to Washington, D.C., this summer 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,” Principal Jennifer Ellsperman said. “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.”

For more information on the Colorado Schools to Watch program, visit colorado For more information on Basalt Middle School, visit

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