Jackson Hole, WY News

Forest school

Jed Bowerstock, 5, pulls his handcrafted boat by a string Aug. 1 during Forest Kindergarten summer camp at Rendezvous Park. The camp, modeled after European outdoor schooling, is held by Teton Science Schools for children ages 4 to 6.

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 were creating a national network of schools focused on place-based learning. The grant from Oakland, California based NewSchools Venture Fund to expand partnerships and initiatives in that vein really got the ball 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, the vice president of education and innovation. "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 partnerships like these, the goal is to improve academic outcomes, student engagement and community impact for students in remote communities. Over the next three to five years, Teton Science Schools hopes to grow the network to 50 schools, serving 10,000 students. 

Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079, schools@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGschools.

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