Making the Grade: Bethann Huston |

Making the Grade: Bethann Huston

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc ELA teacher at Summit Middle School, Bethann Huston, center, teaches her last period class about the U.S. flag Wednesday in Frisco. Students Melissa Zubia, left and Daniel Vargas listen as she talks.

FRISCO – People from all over the world ski in Summit County. And some of them, inspired by the beauty of the mountains, decide to stay. But this is the story of one special person who was inspired by her love of skiing and the mountains not only to stay, but to make a difference to her newfound community.Originally from Ohio, Bethann Huston came to Breckenridge to pursue her love of skiing, and spent 10 years there as a ski instructor. This led to a love of teaching – which led to a career as an English Language Acquisition (ELA) teacher at Summit Middle School.Armed with a background in humanities and language arts, as well as a masters in ELA, Huston now teaches eighth-graders in subjects such as reading and American history, and collaborates in language modification during science classes.

As an English Language Acquisition teacher, it is Huston’s job to not only teach English, but to make other subjects more comprehensible to her students who have skills in English, but are not yet advanced communicators in the language. She does this by putting things into a simpler vocabulary, often using visual aids. And according to Huston, there’s a lot of hands-on learning as well. In her four years with Summit Middle School (and three years as a student teacher at Summit High School), Huston said she has seen positive results using the ELA program.”It has definitely helped us realize a lot of our goals in student achievements,” she said. “Their individual needs are getting met. I’ve seen a great improvement in test scores as a result.”

CHALLENGES: “One challenge we have in the ELA program is meeting each child on his or her own level. Many of these kids haven’t had this kind of schooling experience to begin with. We’re helping them feel good about themselves and helping them see their own growth.”GOALS: “One goal is that we’d like to get more parental involvement, but working with ELA students, there’s sometimes a big cultural difference in how their parents view the schools. Another goal is having our ELA students get outside their own comfort zone and meet more with other kids. There are a lot of imagined barriers created on both sides. “We’re encouraging them to get together in extracurricular activities and other activities within the school, which will expand their experiences and friendships.”

GRATIFICATIONS: “I like to see the students compare their learning from the beginning of the school year to the end. As an eighth-grade teacher, it’s exciting for me to see that they feel they’re ready to go to high school. Graduation Day is a very sentimental day – it’s definitely a rite of passage.”ONE THING ABOUT YOU YOUR STUDENTS WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? “I don’t know how cool they would think this is, but I competed in the Telemark Ski Championships in Italy in 1992, and I placed 10th in the giant slalom. It was my one moment of fame.”Keely Brown can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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