White Pine Charter School
Founded in 2001, White Pine Charter School (District 461) is the largest and oldest charter school in Eastern Idaho. We currently serve more than 450 students in kindergarten through 8th grade, with our students coming from Idaho Falls, Ammon, Rigby, and Shelley. The school is located in a 50,000-square-foot facility at 2959 John Adams Parkway in Ammon, approximately one mile northeast of the College of Eastern Idaho.
Our Demographics: Success For Every Student
White Pine has a diverse student body, with 34 percent of our students receiving government assistance services like free & reduced lunch, and roughly 12 percent of our students receive special education services. Regardless of socio-economic status or cognitive abilities, White Pine focuses on a mission of “success for every student.”
White Pine received a maximum 5-Star rating from the state of Idaho for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, which was the last time this rating system was administered. White Pine was the only charter school in eastern Idaho to receive this top rating, and our middle school was the only one in Idaho Falls to receive the 5-Star rating.
Top of the Class
Many White Pine students who graduate from our school are typically one to two years ahead in Math and Language Arts. Here is a sampling of academic achievements last year from the Idaho Standardized Achievement Test (ISAT):
Parent Involvement, Teacher Collaboration
Student performance is regularly monitored every couple of weeks, and specific areas of improvement are quickly disseminated to teachers so they can formulate instructional strategies that address deficiencies. This information is also passed along to students and parents so they become active participants in the education process. The Administration and the Board oversee the process and monitor student growth on a monthly basis.
A Solid Academic Foundation
Our students are instructed using the Core Knowledge educational theory. Core knowledge theory is knowledge-based schooling, and it is often compared to a classical education with an emphasis in science and social studies.
At White Pine, we’re pleased to provide a rich educational experience for our students. Our subjects are enhanced by a focus in specialized classes, which include Computers, Art, Music, and Physical Education. In addition to their science and mathematics courses, all of our middle school students are always taking a STEM course as part of the core curriculum. They build Rube Goldberg complex machines, catapults, trebuchets, pendulums, as well as learn and work on all-terrain vehicles, small engines, hydraulics, cranes and more. This allows hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and math, and our students learn how to think outside of the box.
The school’s STEM approach brings together our middle school education team so that STEM is taught cross curricular. For example, the construction of a Rube Goldberg machine may become a research paper topic in Language Arts and a unit of instruction in mathematics.
The STEM experience extends into computer programming, with our students gaining exposure to Day of Code and similar technological skills, in our dedicated MAC lab and our 1:1 computing in the middle school. As a result, our students become fluent with MACs, Google Chromebooks and PCs. Although we are not yet 1:1 in our elementary school, we are close to making that happen.
Another hands-on educational opportunity comes to middle school students in our social studies curriculum. Our students are taught the art of debate through mock U.S. Senate and United Nations assemblies, allowing students to roleplay, present resolutions, learn about current events and hold lively debate on the floor.
White Pine Charter School students have access to exciting before- and after-school activities to enrich the academic experience. The following clubs are available either before or after school (this is not the complete list):
Our students’ high academic performance frequently creates one of the school’s greatest dilemmas. We prepare our students with the knowledge and ability to be very successful in high school; however, when our students enter high school, they often become disengaged. We’ve received feedback from our graduates that the material they are learning at their new high school were items covered in our 7th or 8th grades.
A New High School
For the progress of our students, White Pine Charter School’s Board of Directors and administration team have determined that now is the time to pursue the creation of a new high school.
Our students are accustomed to a fast-paced, hands-on, challenging education, and our parents know that White Pine is preparing their children to be top contributors in a global society. They both want to continue their experience at White Pine Charter School if the opportunity was available. Our surveys strongly indicate that our students and parents want us to immediately expand into high school.
The board is examining the potential concentration for the White Pine high school. Currently, we believe that forming a STEM-focused high school will meet the demands of our students, parents, and community. This would build on our longstanding tradition of providing a STEM-focused program and fulfill our desire for academic excellence. We anticipate the school’s focus will have the foresight and flexibility to identify future trends and prepare our students for a technically advanced environment. We want them to be fully prepared to enter college or the workforce, eventually securing jobs that have not yet even been created.
We welcome the challenge to receive STEM training and certifications. There are different universities and private corporations that offer leadership academies in STEM certification, and we want to seek them out and secure them right away.
We anticipate our high school may have similar elements to other STEM schools that have opened in proximity to National Laboratories. On Nov. 8, 2017, members of White Pine’s board and administration team as well as state legislators visited Delta High School in Richland, Washington as part of our research. We witnessed the tremendous opportunities that remarkable school provides to its students, and we feel confident in the possibility of creating such a school here in southeast Idaho to benefit our students. We learned that White Pine Charter School has already established many of the core components in our 6-8th grades for a successful STEM-based high school. We have also visited several top STEM schools in Ohio through a travel grant by the BLUUM Foundation.
Multi-Disciplinary, Project-Based Learning
We want our high school to offer a multi-disciplinary approach that relies on project-based learning across the curriculum. This will strengthen our students’ problem-solving capabilities, emphasize student involvement, and teach them the value of teamwork.
Partnerships with Industry Leaders
We expect to pursue strong relationships, academic partnerships, and professional internships with local businesses and organizations so our students can have real-world experiences before they graduate high school. We will place a premium on helping our students secure meaningful internships and have career exploration opportunities while they are in high school. We will take advantage of our community’s extraordinary talent by encouraging guest lectures from scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory, professors from the College of Eastern Idaho, physicians from our local hospitals, executives from Melaleuca, entrepreneurs from the Idaho Innovation Center, and more.
Improving Idaho’s Go-On Rates
Equally important, we want our students to engage in an academically rigorous curriculum, allowing them to complete high school coursework at an accelerated pace and access college coursework before graduation. This coincides with the state of Idaho’s important goal of improving Idaho’s go-on rate.
We envision creating a high school that holds approximately 400 students. White Pine Charter School already has an excellent path to filling these seats in our high school because of strong K-8 enrollment.
The first plan is to retain White Pine Charter School’s existing class structure, which would graduate 30 students per year into the 9th grade. This proposal would allow an additional 60 students from the region to access White Pine’s STEM-focused high school each year.
The second plan, which the Board believes is more enticing, viable and self-sustaining than the first, relies on reallocating space in our existing 50,000 square-foot school. We have sufficient space to create three classes per grade from kindergarden through 6th grade. This means that White Pine Charter School could matriculate a total of 90 students per year into a combined middle and high school building. This type of scenario perfectly align with Idaho’s vision of the 8 in 6 program.
It’s nice to have options.
To make either plan come to fruition, White Pine will need financial assistance to construct a new facility on or near our current site. We would also be open to tenant improvement of an existing building near our Ammon campus or in leasing space from the College of Eastern Idaho until we can secure a permanent home.
Depending on the level of partnerships that we can establish, White Pine will determine if a new facility would be the best choice, thereby granting us our preference to expand into a 7th -12th grade high school.