Zephyr Cove Elementary a great option for Nevada families (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Zephyr Cove Elementary a great option for Nevada families (Opinion)

Jessica Schnoll
Guest column

With over half of the school year completed, the talk at preschool pickup lately amongst the parents has been kindergarten – a big transition that seems like the official beginning of your child’s school career.

Living in Nevada and working locally in town, parents have the ability to choose between any of the South Lake Tahoe public schools or our local district school in Zephyr Cove.

Over the past few years, when people would ask the question of which kindergarten we’d select when it came time to send our son, they would preface it with “Not Zephyr Cove right?” Zephyr Cove Elementary didn’t seem to have the best reputation, the school’s student body started to dwindle with more and more Nevada families opting for a different school, and as a result, programs were cut.

In general, I like to diligently investigate and research all options to inform any decision, so I set up tours over the past month at Bijou, Sierra House, the Lake Tahoe School in Incline Village, and Zephyr Cove Elementary.

Bijou has an incredible language program and parents rave about it. Sierra House offers the outdoor activity component between the grow domes, ice skating and skiing field trips, and more. The Lake Tahoe School offers a small classroom with only 20 students per class/grade for individualized attention plus weekly art, music, and Maker Space/STEAM activities.

When I toured Zephyr Cove Elementary School, I was shocked to find they had all of the things I loved about the other three schools – in one STEAM program. They have their own grow domes, plus two STEAM classrooms and a Maker Space activity room.

They have not one, but three libraries, a computer lab, and Chromebooks for the students.

Students attend a weekly Spanish class, plus a dedicated art class, as well as music, which was recently added back to the curriculum in January.

They have a reading specialist that works with all of the students, not just the ones struggling.

Furthermore, Vail’s Epic Promise recently granted ski lessons, rentals, and lift tickets to the entire school.

The fifth grade was even out on a field trip snowshoeing when I was visited. Due to the small class sizes and overall small school size, your child gets the individualized attention to not only thrive, but truly excel.

When I walked into the Maker Space classroom, I immediately knew my son would be in seventh heaven as I found students working on a variety of projects, including weaving on a loom, making creations with 3D pens, working on valentine’s projects for their parents in the 3D printer, and some building with Legos.

In art class I found the sixth graders waving to their kindergarten buddies through the windows who were out on an extra recess they had earned.

The sixth grade and kindergarten students are partnered together as reading and STEAM buddies. The overall feeling at the school – yes, it’s small; but it is warm, and inviting, and everything I remember elementary school being when I was younger. My child will not be lost in the crowd but will be an individual member of the Zephyr Cove family.

I attribute a lot of this feeling to the new administration that started in August this past year. Principal Shawn Lear, who is based out of Whittell High School next door, and Vice Principal Sean Ryan, based out of the elementary school — they have a vision that has clearly reinvigorated the teachers, students, and now the community, as so vocally demonstrated during public comments at the most recent Douglas County School Board Meeting.

The teachers and parents also deserve credit for sticking it out over the past few years and believing in the strength of the programs and the school.

Nevada parents, I strongly encourage you to tour Zephyr Cove Elementary and experience the school for yourself.

I for one am thrilled to find everything I was looking for in a strong program, in our own neighborhood. Parents can schedule a tour by calling the school at 775-588-4574 and look for an Open House later this spring.

Kindergarten registration is now open, and forms can be picked up at the Zephyr Cove Elementary School front desk.

Jessica Schnoll is a Zephyr Cove resident.

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