Laila Powers, Rob Powers and Erik Powers: A great school

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We read the article in the Steamboat Today about the flexibility of scheduling at Steamboat Springs Middle School and how it helps the students ("Flexibility the rule at school," Sept. 13). We would like to share our good fortune with this scheduling.

Erik is in eighth grade and loves languages. His dream is to attend the Air Force Academy and maybe become a pilot or a linguist. Erik had been attempting to learn Chinese on his own through Internet classes and was finding that the time commitment was making his other academic studies difficult. Last year, he wrote a petition to Middle School Principal Tim Bishop asking if he could take Chinese as an independent study course at the middle school. We were in support of his efforts, but having attended public schools ourselves, were not very hopeful that anything would come of it. We were pleasantly surprised to be in error.

Tim Bishop not only read Erik's petition, but also acted on it, as well. Erik is now taking distance learning Chinese as an encore subject with an online tutor three times a week and online guided self-study the other two days a week. Achieving this at a public school is no small feat. Erik brings in his own computer, which had to be verified to go online at the middle school. Mr. Bishop is his independent study teacher, which requires him to monitor Erik's classwork and progress. But if that is not enough, he has to help with computer glitches, word documents that won't go through, and ensure that Erik has a place that is quiet while still allowing him to speak out loud to his tutor. Mr. Bishop accomplishes this while attending to all his other duties as principal.

And of course, it takes a village - the office staff at the middle school is phenomenal. If Mr. Bishop is called to other duties, they insure that Erik has a place to work and that he is able to be online, and that he can be an "independent eighth-grader."

We can't praise the middle school enough for its efforts to promote learning and to "think outside the box." The entire staff has been nothing but helpful and supportive in allowing Erik to pursue his academic dreams. No one has said, "Oh - we are too big; that is too hard; we haven't done that before; it is extra work for us."

Hats off to all who work there - they are a wonderful group of dedicated, creative and, of course, flexible professionals. We are thankful to have our children learning here in Steamboat.

Laila Powers, Rob Powers and Erik Powers

Steamboat Springs

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