RMSEL Frequently Asked Questions

What time does school begin?

Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; during this time students may be on campus. On Wednesdays, late start days, office hours are from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
 
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
  • Grades 9-12 - school begins each day at 7:40 a.m., and students are dismissed each day at 3:20 p.m. 
  • Grades K-8 - school begins each day at 7:50 a.m., and students are dismissed each day at 3:20 p.m.
Wednesday (late start day):
  • Grades K-12 - school begins each Wednesday at 8:50 a.m., and students are dismissed each day at 3:20 p.m.
What district calendar does RMSEL follow?

As an independent school formed as a Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), RMSEL creates an annual calendar, which is voted on and approved by the BOCES. The calendar does not follow one single district’s school calendar. We attempt to accommodate for vacation schedules in other districts, however, this does have limitations that are occasionally unavoidable.
 
What is the average and maximum class size at RMSEL?

Each class and crew at RMSEL has 25 students.
 
How is classroom curriculum determined at RMSEL?

Each crew leader selects up to two compelling topics each school year to create a learning expedition. Each learning expedition integrates multi disciplinary studies tied to the topic. Each topic is selected to make learning come alive and increase student motivation and engagement. To ensure academic readiness and alignment to a vertical understanding, each topic is tied to the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), which are cross-referenced to the Common Core Standards. Expedition topics often are closely related to subjects in Humanities and Science. Students also engage in direct instruction tied to CAS when not met during the learning expedition.
 
What about mathematics curriculum?

Math is taught as a stand-alone subject area by grade level or ability depending on school level. Students receive math in 60-100 minute blocks daily. Teachers use a variety of tools to provide inquiry-based instruction to students while ensuring students learns umber sense and computation.
 
What is a “crew?”

A crew is a group of students working together to achieve a common goal. At RMSEL, each student is a part of a crew. This oftentimes is described by students as a “family.” During crew, students will explore a variety of initiatives as they form a group identity. The Design Principles of Expeditionary Learning serve as a guide for students as they explore a variety of issues that may be impacting their crew. Our mission statement summarizes this as “We are crew not passengers!”
 
Does RMSEL have a character education program?

Development of character and the growth of our students into responsible citizens are integrated into all aspects of each student’s experience at RMSEL. Character is not taught in isolation but dynamically woven into each learning activity, expedition, crew trip, and initiative at RMSEL. We tie our expectations for student conduct to our five character values. These values are courage, discipline, responsibility, integrity, and compassion. These values are a map for student development at all school levels.
 
What is Expeditionary Learning?

In an Expeditionary Learning (EL) school, we take a different approach to teaching and learning that is found to be highly successful and is exceeding the performance of many public neighborhood schools. We take each Colorado State Assessment annually, outperforming the state average in 89% of all tested areas. To accomplish this high level of student achievement at RMSEL, learning is:
 
-  Active. Students are scientists, urban planners, historians, and activists, investigating community problems and collaborating with peers to develop creative, actionable solutions.
 
-  Challenging. Students at all levels are pushed and supported to do more than they think they can. Excellence is expected in the quality of their work and thinking.
 
-  Meaningful. Students apply their skills and knowledge to real-world issues and problems and make positive changes in their communities. They see the relevance of their learning and are motivated by understanding that learning has a purpose.
 
-  Public. Through formal structures of presentation, exhibition, critique, and data analysis, students and teachers build a shared vision of pathways to achievement.
 
-  Collaborative. School leaders, teachers, students, and families share rigorous expectations for quality work, achievement, and behavior. Trust, respect, responsibility, and joy in learning permeate the school culture.
 
What is the difference between a crew trip and an expedition?

The term “expedition” references our school instructional framework. We organize our instruction and curriculum into learning expeditions. A “crew trip” refers to our world-class adventure program and wilderness experiences for students. Students travel twice a year for up to 10 days. Students participate in a variety of adventure activities while on a crew trip. These activities include rock climbing, rafting, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, international travel, sailing, etc. Crews are on crew trips twice a year; once in the fall and then again in the spring.
 
What is a student portfolio?

Each year, students organize their expedition work into a portfolio. The portfolio has various artifacts from the year in each core subject area as well as final products from specials. Students are also required to reflect on their learning experiences as well as include a service log with volunteer hours. Each year the contents of the portfolio increase in volume and complexity as students grow and learn. During 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade, students present their portfolio to a group of passage panelists. The passage panels review the portfolio and provide each student with detailed feedback regarding their learning.
 
 
What type of independent study program is offered in High School?

Each year high school students plan an independent study in which they are able to explore a topic that engages them as learners. This process begins in 9th/10th grade with a two week “mini challenge” and culminates with a six week intensive during the student’s senior year. Students have explored a variety of topics ranging from various engineering projects to entry-level medical studies. The final product for each independent study is included in the portfolio.
 
Does RMSEL offer Concurrent Enrollment?

RMSEL high school students may participate in concurrent enrollment at Arapahoe Community College (ACC) in grades 11 and 12. This program is offered to students who are in good academic standing. ACC requires students to take the Accu Placer Exam to determine college readiness in each core subject area prior to enrollment. Students are able to receive up to 12 college course hours while still attending high school.
 
Do students at RMSEL take tests?

At RMSEL, as students in a public school, all students are required to take state assessments each year in grades 3-12. RMSEL uses a variety of assessment methods to measure mastery. Students are exposed to testing during their tenure at RMSEL, but classroom testing is only one way to measure student achievement.
 
What types of Special Education Services are available?

Special Education Services are available at RMSEL. Prior to enrollment, each student must submit a complete up-to-date IEP. The IEP will be reviewed during an enrollment meeting to determine if services at RMSEL are available to meet the service time and needs of the IEP.
 
How does the lottery work?

The lottery is complex in that it serves five sponsoring school districts with proportional allocations of student seats. Each district is allocated a number of student spots per our governing agreement. The lottery is run per the guidelines of the enrollment policy. Each district must be full prior to over-enrollment in another district.
 
Is RMSEL connected to Outward Bound?

In 1993, RMSEL was one of the founding Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound schools. We still utilize many aspects of Outward Bound in our classroom and adventure program. Our design principles tie to the design of Outward Bound and tie directly to climate and culture of our school. EL and OB no longer have a direct correlation; however, they are both cornerstones of an education at RMSEL.
 
What is "fieldwork"?

Fieldwork refers to the engagement of students with an expert in the field or classroom tied to their topic of study. Fieldwork outside of the classroom takes place during school hours.  Fieldwork does not include overnight experiences.
 
How can parents get involved?

Parents can get involved by volunteering at RMSEL. Parents may join our Parent Action Crew for Kids (PACK) or sign up to assist with fieldwork. All volunteers at RMSEL are required to be fingerprinted and cleared prior to working with students. Fingerprint cards are available in the main office, and the fee for fingerprint processing is $40.
 
What types of elective / specials courses are available?

RMSEL students in grades K-8 take specials courses throughout the year that consist of Art, Spanish, Vocal Music, Technology, AVID, Physical Education, and AVID/Movement. In grades 9-12, a variety of elective courses are offered each semester for students to choose from in the disciplines listed above.
 
What type of athletic or enrichment programs are available?

Students in grades K-8 may participate in after school enrichments two to three days a week from 3:25-4:30 p.m. Throughout the year, different enrichments are offered for students and parents to select from. Athletic programs are offered for middle and high school students during fall, winter, and spring seasons. Athletic practice is after school each day from 3:30-4:45 p.m. At the middle school level, we offer co-ed cross-country, boys’ soccer, boys’ basketball, girls' soccer, girls’ basketball, and girls' volleyball.  At the high school level, we offer rock climbing, mountain biking, and ski club.
 
Does RMSEL provide transportation?

RMSEL does not provide transportation to and from school. Transportation is provided for fieldwork and crew trips. This transportation is paid for through annual fieldwork fees. RMSEL has 8 mini-buses for transporting students.
 
Is after hours childcare available?

RMSEL does not provide after hours child care for families; we contract with the YMCA of Denver to provide before and after care services. You may pick up information regarding before and after care at the main office. All students who are not going to after care are required to be picked up each day no later than 3:30 p.m.