Steamboat Springs When Steamboat Springs School District Curriculum Director Marty Lamansky approached Yampa Valley High School lead teacher Chuck Rosemond at the beginning of the year with the broadest of education administrative questions — “What do you need?” — Rosemond didn’t need much time to think before he answered.
Most high school teachers seek funding for materials to fill classrooms and keep students advancing along their curriculum. Rosemond wanted his alternative school students to be able to attend Steamboat Springs High School’s prom.
The idea is simple: More than materials or money, Rosemond wants to squash the perception that Yampa Valley High School is for bad kids. Moreover, he wants those kids getting a bad rap from outsiders to feel like any other high school student inching his or her way along toward a diploma and graduation.
“There is always this perception with alternative high schools that it’s a school for kids who have been expelled from other programs,” Rosemond said. “In a lot of districts, that is the deal. We definitely have struggled with that — our image. I think we are emerging in a place right now that we’re establishing a reputation finally.”
It’s a school of choice, as the five-year teacher said. Students must apply, and when they’re accepted, they shouldn't expect a movie to be played for their entertainment to fill the school day.
YVHS has its own curriculum, its own diploma and some of the strictest attendance and performance guidelines found in Routt County.
It’s a pass-fail program without homework. If students are to learn, Rosemond said, they are going to have to show up in class every day.
School policies may be unconventional in comparison to Steamboat, Hayden or Soroco, but Yampa Valley High School's goals are no different.
“We serve students that are motivated to graduate from high school,” Rosemond said. “We aren’t a glorified daycare down here.”
For the first time since the Steamboat Springs School District took YVHS under its wing four years ago, teachers at the alternative school were put in the pool of candidates for the district's annual educator of the year award.
At the May 19 school board meeting, Rosemond accepted the honor.
He hopes to share the award to get YVHS “on the map." He has spent the better part of his career in small-classroom environments, beginning with adjudicated youths in Pennsylvania. He went on to work with Outward Bound, The Lowell Whiteman School and YVHS even before the district recognized it as one of its own.
He remembers the day YVHS used to be tucked away in the farthest reaches of the district’s grounds on Seventh Street. Slowly but surely, the school transitioned into the district building’s facade, where remodels were made with real classrooms and lockers for students — another way for its 28 students to feel like the high-schoolers they are.
And as the end of May approaches with graduation right around the corner, YVHS students got to enjoy what most teenagers do when school winds down — they got to attend prom.
“All these little things that finally made us feel like a school,” Rosemond said. “Students no longer felt like they were going to an alt school.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll