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Community Partnerships Enable Emerging Bilingual Students to Ski and Ride

Community Partnerships Enable Emerging Bilingual Students to Ski and Ride



A ski instructor rides a lift with emerging bilingual students from the Steamboat Springs School Distirct on March 2, 2023.


This winter, emerging bilingual students from Steamboat Springs Middle School and Sleeping Giant School have had the opportunity to learn and participate in Ski Town, USA’s favorite pastime — skiing and snowboarding.

Through innovative programs and strategic partnerships with local organizations, Steamboat Springs School District provides essential resources for students new to the community and the country. The Newcomer Program provides translation services, resources, education about the American school system, and support for parents and students. Students in the Newcomer Program are slowly transitioned into the Emerging Bilingual (EB) Program. EB students are continuing to develop their home language while also learning English. For instance, at SSMS, staff provide sheltered English language, science, social studies, and math classes that have Spanish support.

Marin Shanahan, an EB teacher at SSMS, worked with local partners to get EB students low-cost ski or snowboard rentals for the entire season, including opportunities to take lessons.

“I just had this passion to make this available”, said Shanahan. “I started calling local businesses and Christy Sports immediately jumped on board. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation helped find the other donor.”

Christy Sports and the Dirt to Snow, Mark Satkiewicz Legacy Fund, provided ski or snowboarding rentals at a steep discount for students. The fund's mission is focused on inclusivity and removing barriers, making bike and snow sports accessible to all kids by providing funding to support bike and snow sport programs and equipment.

On February 9 and March 2, about 55 students were provided free lessons, lift tickets, lunch and rentals, if needed, through the Young Guns program at Steamboat Ski Resort. 

“Young Guns is a great program to help our EB students to celebrate their completion of ACCESS, a strenuous language acquisition assessment they take annually in January”, said Lucy Hackman, an emerging bilingual specialist at Sleeping Giant School. “Students from both Steamboat Springs Middle School and Sleeping Giant School got a chance to ski with their peers. I look forward to continuing this partnership with the mountain and hope we can add a couple more days next year. After two days students are just starting to get the feel of it!”

“It took a lot of community involvement to make all this happen,” said Shanahan.

For some of the students from outside the United States, this was their first opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard. In fact, according to Shanahan, a lot of them had never seen snow until this winter.

“It opens up doors for them to be more involved with their peers,” said Shanahan. “These opportunities also help to educate their parents on the cool activities we can do here. This shows the families there are fun things to do outside in the winter time and in the snow.”

This is the second year middle school emerging bilingual students were offered ski rentals. Last year, 30 students had access to rentals for the whole season. Shanahan said half of the students went to free ski Sundays at Howelsen, and it was a great way for them to connect outside the classroom.

“I hope this is the beginning of opening up opportunities for kids to participate and learn about the outdoors in our community,” said Shanahan. “I think these opportunities should be open to everyone. It creates appreciation and awareness for our mountains. If they can participate in activities in our mountains, there is respect and drive to take care of them. Socioeconomic status should not be a deterrent for anyone that wants to explore our mountains.”