Thanks to a $1 million grant, place-based education is taking off outside of the Tetons.

Teton Science Schools, or TSS, announced Thursday that they are creating a national network of schools focused on place-based learning. A grant from Oakland, California-based NewSchools Venture Fund to expand partnerships and initiatives is really getting the network rolling.

“Rural schools often have incredible community assets and dedicated staff, but also may struggle with poverty, economic challenges and access to the innovations and resources found in more densely populated areas,” said Nate McClennen, vice president of education and innovation for TSS. “The goal of the Place Network is to build an innovative and replicable K-12 model to help all rural schools accelerate in partnership together to reimagine their rural futures.”

TSS is well known in these parts for both Journeys School, a pre-K-12 school in Jackson, and Teton Valley Community School, a K-8 project-based school in Victor, Idaho. The concept to create a network of similar schools came about through the operations of these schools, plus the graduate program, field education and professional development programs TSS also runs.

The organization has dabbled with taking the place-based educational model outside of the area in the past, like with online classes and curriculum offerings for students this spring.

Several schools are already in the network. They include Mountain River School in Vermont; University Charter School in Alabama; Koshkonong Trails School in Wisconsin; Swan Valley Elementary School District and Meadows Valley School District in Idaho; and Leadership Preparatory Academy in Washington.

Through such partnerships, the goal is to improve academic outcomes, student engagement and community impact for students in remote communities. Over the next three to five years, TSS wants to grow the network to 50 schools, serving 10,000 students.

Schools in the group will have access to sample curricula, consulting and implementation, research and online communities. While the bulk of the schools will be public and rural, other schools that are independent or urban will also play a role in the program to advance learning around how the model works in diverse geographic areas.


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