During our visit to Fort Collins, Colorado, Chuck and I made it a priority to travel up into the mountains to once again see the rural school where I taught until I retired twelve years ago. At that time it served K=6th Grades. It now serves Pre-school - 5th Grades. It is over one hundred years old now, having been established in 1898 by farmers and ranchers as a one-room school. It is tucked away in a high, secluded valley (about 7,000 ft. elevation) northwest of town about twenty-one miles. I used to teach combined grades Kindergarten, First, and Second for several years before I was forced to retire after a bout with cancer back in 1998. I loved teaching there, especially the cooperative, helpful parents who often helped me out in the classroom. Before I was assigned to a regular education classroom, I taught in this and other mountain schools as an itinerant special education teacher. I traveled all over the mountains to provide educational services for special needs children in the elementary grades. But my favorite assignment was this school--Stove Prairie Elementary. Not only was it very scenic, but the children were mostly eager to learn, and were a lot of fun to teach. During the winter when it snowed, sledding down the hill out back was great fun. We also enjoyed seeing the elk in the fields next to the school when they came down from the high country during the fall and winter. I enjoyed the scenic, forty-five minute drive up the winding canyon road, especially in the fall when the aspen were so colorful. I even managed to maneuver my little front-wheel drive Diahatsu two-door car in deep snow with snow chains which I installed myself whenever needed.
During our visit, I was able to meet the new teachers and principal and see one teacher, Kathleen Edmiston, and the school secretary, Karen England, who remained from my time there. They were happy to see me and renew acquaintances. I have been corresponding each Christmas with Karen England in the intervening years; so it really didn't feel that twelve years had passed. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the whole school has been recently remodeled and improved. It now has five classrooms and a new media center/library with separate rooms for special education tutoring and "special" instruction; i.e. math, music, art, p.e. The playground has also been improved and is really nice for the children now. I'm so glad we took the time to come here to visit and enjoy the pleasant memories of years gone by.