Eight Student School Opens in Alta

Eight Student School Opens in Alta

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Jed Boal ReportingWhile many Utah schools struggle with crowded classrooms, a handful of students in one mountain town are getting a unique education.

In some ways it hearkens back to the days of the one-room schoolhouse on the prairie. In other ways it may be cutting edge.

At first glance, Jaeann Tschiffely's classroom is just like all the others at Granite Elementary. But this class of eight students spans first through eight grade. One room, one teacher, teaching all subjects in a ski lodge at Alta.

Kathy Garling no longer has to drive her second grade daughter down the canyon for school,a challenging run in the winter. She likes the teacher, the attention the students get, the class size,and the chance for all parents in Alta to help out.

Kathy Garling, Parent: “I think it's so exciting for my daughter and for me."

Fifth grader Chris Jensen likes walking to school this year and the class size. He says the students all help each other learn and plan to accomplish their goals.

Chris Jensen, Fifth Grader: “I want to have a high grade in math and reading and handwriting."

Tschifelley says the mix of students forces them to take responsibility for their own education.

Jaeann Tschiffely, Teacher: “I saw it as this opportunity to do some things in education that I really believe in. Being able to make it more personal and one-on-one."

While the students don't interact among larger groups of their peers, the teacher doesn't think they'll suffer socially. On the contrary, she thinks this is a better set-up.

Jaeann Tschiffely, Teacher: “It's just to me, a more natural setting than everybody all the same age competing with each other, showing off for each other and all of that."

The teacher is state certified and will teach students similar subjects, but at a different levels.

Jaeann Tschiffely, Teacher: “We're only a week into it, but I'm really excited. It's working the way I thought it would work."

So far, the parents and students seem to agree.

The schoolroom is a satellite of Granite Elementary. The three year experiment by the Jordan School District is being operated at very little extra cost to the district.

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