Admission as a full-time athlete to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) is a prerequisite to attending Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (VSSA), an Eagle County School (ECS) and the first public ski & snowboard academy in the country. As a college preparatory school, the goal of VSSA is to challenge its student athletes with a rigorous academic curriculum while supporting a world-class training and competition schedule. Since every VSSA student is a full-time SSCV athlete, every aspect of the school, including academics, scheduling and academic support infrastructure, is structured to accommodate the needs of the full-time student athlete.
A great number of VSSA student athletes compete on a national and international level, which entails extensive travel during the school year. VSSA is specifically tailored to provide for the education of its oftentimes widely geographically spread student body. Every student travels with a laptop computer for easy access to schoolwork at all times. The use of innovative internet technologies allows teachers and students to remain in close communication.
Flexibility is key in the VSSA environment as is individualized planning and monitoring of each student’s course work and progress. VSSA offers a wealth of resources in support of the needs of its full-time student athletes, including the following:
1. Blackboard, a web based educational platform, alongside Google Calendars, which include assignments which VSSA teachers are required to post two weeks in advance to support traveling athletes, all accessible by teachers, students and parents and Google Docs;
2. Naviance, a comprehensive web-based college and career readiness platform for middle school and high school students that helps connect academic achievement to post-secondary goals, accessible by the college counselor, students and parents;
3 . Power School, a web-based, real-time grading system accessible by teachers, students and parents;
4. Special education services for those students who qualify under the ECS guidelines;
5. A full-time counselor providing college counseling and support services, along with age appropriate cross-age and team building activities and a variety of enrichment opportunities, including community service and internships;
6. A team of 4-5 academic coaches hired by SSCV who support foreign language as well as supplement the VSSA classroom teachers, in particular for athletes with extensive travel and competition schedules;
7. A trimester oriented bell schedule built around supporting the unique needs of full-time snowsports athletes throughout the school year, including built in times for advisory which is a full year, 0.5 credit life skills course that focuses on character and leadership development, after school strength training and conditioning sessions, training in the acrobatics room for freestyle, freeski and snowboard athletes and on-snow training sessions during the winter term, none of which conflict with class-time.
VSSA’s student to teacher ratio of 13:1 allows for individualized attention. VSSA’s students develop a level of independent learning and life skills that are unusual among 5th through 12th grade students. The college acceptance record of VSSA graduates includes many of the top colleges and universities in the country.
VSSA provides a rigorous secondary and college preparatory academic program while supporting the athletic and personal goals of our students. In partnership with SSCV and ECS, VSSA facilitates the attainment of our students’ dreams by offering challenging academics, flexible scheduling and individualized attention.
In 1992, Teres Herbst created an academic arm of SSCV called Vail Valley Academy (VVA); six students and five teachers attend. By 1996, VVA had an enrollment of 36 student-athletes. In, 2007 SSCV and ECS created the first public ski and snowboard academy in the country, Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy (VSSA). Enrollment for the first year was 31 students. In 2008, Geoffry Grimmer became VSSA Head of School; 9th-12th grades were supported by Battle Mountain High School and Minturn Middle School supported 6th-8th grades. With the support of ECS, in 2009 VSSA opened as the first 6th-12th public ski and snowboard school in the United States with 7 full time faculty, an Office Manager, a Director of College Placement and a Director of Admissions. In the 2010-2011 school year, VSSA opened with over 90 students. In the 2013-2014 school year VSSA grew to 150+ students in grades 5 through 12 and in the 2015-2016 school year VSSA grew to 170+ students in grades 5 through 12.