We’re Going to High School Next Year!
For years, parents, students, and teachers have been asking White Pine Charter School to expand into higher grade levels. We are very excited to announce we have been officially approved to open a high school next year!
Recently, the Idaho Public Charter School Commission unanimously approved our request after it meticulously analyzed our proposal, track record of academic excellence, and history of success.
This news comes after hundreds and hundreds of requests from parents, students, and teachers. It’s required the blood, sweat, and tears of board members and the administration over several years.
White Pine STEM Academy will be a remarkable, innovative, top-tier high school. We will quickly become Idaho’s premier STEM school for students wanting a rigorous, relevant, and 21st Century education to prepare them for college, career, and beyond.
Our focus will be to prepare students to secure the jobs of the future, especially the high-tech, high-paying jobs that are in high-demand right here in eastern Idaho. Our curriculum will propel students to success in their career path and/or post-secondary education.
Let’s Walk the Halls
To illustrate our vision, imagine walking through the halls at White Pine STEM Academy, where our students are engaged in hands-on learning.
For example, in an engineering course, you might see students designing and building modern transportation devices like a rocket-propelled skateboard. Or they may be using CAD to design a home layout for a Habitat for Humanity client.
In the English class, you might watch instructors help students create business plans.
In another classroom, you’ll likely see students becoming certified in the Microsoft and Adobe software suites. They’ll be using programs to develop their own business prospectus, financial analysis, and marketing materials.
Elsewhere, students may be preparing to present to White Pine Angel Investors for funding of prototypes and projects, which is exactly what students will need to do when they become professionals.
Another class may take place offsite at the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI), where students will take a college course, earning both high school and college credit. They are working in a mock hospital room with a virtual cadaver.
And an after-school club might be a student-run business that provides IT support (i.e. help desk, networking, and cybersecurity) to small businesses.
A 21st Century Curriculum
You can expect the Academy to teach 21st Century workforce skills, cutting edge Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), while integrating English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Humanities. We’ll ensure content, curriculum, and projects align with State content standards to meet graduation requirements.
Real-World Application, Key Partnerships
Yes, the curriculum will be rigorous and based in real-world applications. We’ll be connected through strong community partnerships with the College of Eastern Idaho, Idaho State University, Idaho National Laboratory, key area employers, and STEM partners. Our students will never wonder if they’ll ever use what they’re learning because the curriculum will be based in real-world projects.
Recruiting Top Teachers
The Academy will recruit highly qualified teachers and staff, with a preference given to real-world experience in STEM-related fields. The recruiting process has already begun.
A New Kind of Classroom
A few of the key aspects about White Pine STEM Academy include:
Mastery-based education– gives our students the ability to direct their own learning and advance as they demonstrate proficiency in course content. A motivated learner could master entire subjects in less time, moving on to more advanced topics without having to wait for the rest of the class.
Project-based learning – engages our students in solving real-world problems or answering complex questions. They demonstrate knowledge and skills by developing a work product or presentation for a real audience. This develops deep knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing a meaningful project.
Dual credit/concurrent enrollment -To help our students get a head start for college, White Pine STEM Academy will encourage students to enroll in courses that count for both high school and college credit. In these courses, students can earn the high school credit needed to graduate, along with a college credit to take with them. We are in discussions with CEI about this program.
Location, Location, Location
The Academy will maintain its current campus for the elementary school. Next school year, we anticipate leasing a nearby commercial facility or placing modular classrooms on our current property. In the meantime, the Board is quickly working toward either securing (or building) a permanent facility that is close to our existing campus.
Powerful Advisory Board
White Pine STEM Academy is partnering with some of the region’s top business, industry, and education leaders. Our newly formed Advisory Board will help us stay current with industry trends and forecast workforce needs so we can give our students the foundation they need to fill the future jobs that have yet to be invented. Here’s who is behind our school:
- Dr. Rick Aman, President of the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI)
- Ann Marie Peters, Director of Strategic Partnerships, College of Eastern Idaho (CEI)
- Representative Wendy Horman (District 30)
- Chip Schwarze, President of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce
- Dr. Tom Ottoway, Dean of Idaho State University’s College of Business. He is also a professor of Informatics and Computer Science.
- Jim Dalton, an attorney and business leader. He wrote our charter expansion proposal and is a charter school administrator at a neighboring K-12 school.
- Ann Seifert, Idaho National Laboratory’s former K-12 STEM program manager
Two New Board Members
Two recent appointments to the school’s Board of Directors include Jakob Miller, a cybersecurity expert at Melaleuca. Previously, he worked at INL, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and IBM. By the age of 15, this whiz-kid was running the IT Department for the Jerome School District. Additionally, we’re fortunate to have Ethan Huffman, a leadership member from the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), join us. He previously worked as Congressman Mike Simpson’s regional field director, and at Idaho National Laboratory.
We Need Your Help!
It’s an exciting time to be a White Pine Cougar! We understand a big announcement can lead to a lot of questions. Rest assured, we’ll work hard to be transparent and keep you informed as this expansion progresses. And if you’re interested in lending your expertise and talents as we move forward, we’re setting up several working groups to discuss important issues including curriculum, facilities, partnerships, marketing, and student and administrative policies. Your support and involvement in these working groups will help shape our new school.
Please know the board of directors and administrative team are working through the countless decisions that need to be made. With so much “wet cement,” we need your input to make this vision come to life. We invite you to connect with the board of directors through email, phone calls, monthly board meetings, or in-person.
Thanks again for everything that you do for our school and for your students.