Kids can learn in Eagle County |

Kids can learn in Eagle County

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyPhilip Qualman, a vice principal at Battle Mountain High School, and his wife, Liz, have started Alpine Driving School so local kids can learn to drive close to home.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Karen Levine is happy to say she has no more teen children to teach how to drive.

Putting 16 year-old-kids behind the wheel is stressful enough ” but it’s also a logistical nightmare when they’re having to take classes in Glenwood Springs, Levine said.

“It’s a hassle, but there’s not much else you can do,” Levine said. “It’s just one of those things missing here.”

Levine said she would have liked a local option, like the new driver’s education school just started by Philip Qualman, assistant principal at Battle Mountain High School, and his wife, Liz Qualman, who’s a teaching coach for the school district.

Their new business is called Alpine Driving School. It will be a comprehensive driving school mixing classroom lessons and time behind the wheel of a brand new 2008 Chevy Cobalt, equipped with passenger side brakes.

“We have a pretty large population of teenagers who are beginning drivers, and they generally go to Glenwood, some might go as far as Denver, to get the classes for their insurance discount or to get their license,” Liz Qualman said. “So, we thought the driving school would be very convenient.”

The classes, which are required to obtain a learner’s permit, will be held at Red Canyon High School’s campus in Edwards. Lectures will teach students about the basic things you need to know before hitting the road like safety, traffic laws and basic mechanics.

After earning a learner’s permit, students can sign up for three, two-hour driving sessions one-on-one with a teacher, and the school’s Web site will allow students to schedule lessons.

“We’ll spend quite a bit of time in parking lots, side roads ” the first couple of lessons we won’t see any time on the interstate,” Philip Qualman said. “We’ll work slow, work on vehicle control, parking, basic vehicle maneuvering.”

Alpine Driving School’s curriculum has been certified by the state, and teachers at the school are licensed to administer both the written test and driving skills test you need to pass before getting your license. After passing those, you’ll just need to take the necessary papers to Frisco or Glenwood Springs for a license.

“A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten from community members is that there really hasn’t been a comprehensive driving school in the valley, and people would like to stay local to do as much as they can,” Liz Qualman said.

The Qualmans aren’t sure now how many people will sign up. If there’s a huge demand, they’ll gladly expand their operation and find more teachers.

Interested in registering? Visit for a registration form and to view class schedules and costs. Here are the courses being offered by Alpine Driving School:

Drivers Ed 101 (30 Hours Total)

– Required for students 141/2 to 15 1/2 years of age in order to obtain a Learner’s Permit.

– 24 hours of classroom instruction using state approved curriculum from the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association.

– Meets the qualifications of most insurance companies for a discounted rate.

– Requires three days of instruction from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

– Requires six hours of homework.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction (6 Hours Total)

– Three, two-hour sessions scheduled after school or on weekends.

– Lessons begin at the parking lot of Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

Driver Awareness Course (4 Hours Total)

– Required for students 151/2 to 16 years of age in order to obtain a learner’s permit.

– Follows the Colorado Guidelines for Expanded Driver Awareness Programs

– Does not meet the qualifications of most insurance companies for a discounted rate.


Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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