Former VSSA headmaster Geoff Grimmer starts micro school consulting firm
September 4, 2017
EAGLE — Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy's first headmaster is launching an education consulting firm to help families start their own micro schools.
Geoff Grimmer opened Zealous Learning Solutions, an education consulting firm in Eagle County.
Zealous is designed to provide families with the guidance they need to start micro schools — their own public, private and charter schools, Grimmer said.
"I am excited to take the experience I gained from VSSA and apply it to the design of unique micro school communities in Colorado and beyond," Grimmer said. "There are big rewards out there for families willing to try something unique and more innovative."
He's setting up one at a resort in Puerto Rico, but said his heart is still in Eagle County.
They'll work with communities or groups that want to launch micro schools. They'll also work toward innovative approaches for Eagle County families, Grimmer said.
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"Millennials are changing everything, including education. They like travel more, and micro schools tend to make that possible," Grimmer said.
What's a micro school?
The micro school movement started in Silicon Valley and is gaining momentum across the country. They don't have to be private schools, Grimmer said.
Most micro schools have a few things in common, Grimmer said:
• They're smaller, from around 10 to a few dozen students;
• Multiple ages learn together in a single classroom;
• Teachers act more as guides than lecturers;
• There's a heavy emphasis on digital and project-based learning;
• Education is highly personalized;
• They can meet five days per week, the worldwide paradigm for school scheduling, but don't have to;
• Classes tend to be hands-on and activity based.
"If we're studying climate change, why wouldn't we have the kids do a community project as a teaching tool, and benefits the community?" Grimmer said.
On the ground floor
Grimmer was on the ground floor of VSSA when it opened in 2007, along with former Eagle County Schools assistant superintendent Mike Gass, and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail's Aldo Radamus.
The school is the first public school sports academy in the U.S., and is aimed at winter athletes.
While Grimmer was headmaster, the school grew from 31 student-athletes to nearly 700. At the same time, VSSA's ACT scores climbed from 21 to 26.
VSSA enabled local snowsports athletes to remain in the valley and attend a public school, it also attracted athletes from around Colorado and the country.
Four VSSA students competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and Grimmer said he is hoping for more in 2018.
That's all good, but Grimmer said he is at least as proud of the flexible learning model that enabled athletes to travel, while carrying a full course load.
He said it's that flexibility he wants to bring to Zealous Learning and micro schools.
"In the age of digital learning, it makes sense to think differently about the way we educate our young people," Grimmer said.
Grimmer spent 10 years at the helm of VSSA.
"I am so grateful to have worked with this amazing community and look forward to watching the next decade of excellence unfold for VSSA," he said. "My goal for Zealous is to expand relevant and engaging learning opportunities for kids while supporting their individual dreams and goals."