A Note from the Director – March 2019

It warmed my heart to see our new school packed full with students, teachers, former families, prospective families, experts and invested community members.  One parent said, “I am so impressed with how many people care about the school.” My response was, “We have a very special thing going on here.” I state this over and over and I will state it again, I am so incredibly proud and honored to serve Palouse Prairie.  

I have had the privilege of being a one of three founding staff members still at the school serving  with the same enthusiasm, inspiration and drive since the day it opened. This model of education inspires educators, leaders and students to truly do more than they think possible. I have seen our school and accomplishments grow.  Last year we became one of only 36 credentialed EL Education schools in the nation. We are continually ranked as one of the top charter schools in the State and Nation. Our teachers have received recognition from national, regional and local educational and community organizations.

That’s where we stand now as we are about to embark on the next phase of our journey in a brand new custom built school. It is difficult to appreciate where we are without knowing where we came from.  So let me take you back…. The first year of Palouse Prairie, we began with an EL educator as our leader, in her first year of leadership, and 4 teachers. All of us were grounded in the vision that education could create future leaders, individuals with the commitment and capability to make positive change in the world.  But we may have been a bit short on the details of how to make that happen. Our Board of Directors believed that educators need the mindset of lifelong learners. Oh….how right they were! At our first week-long institute with regional EL Education school designers, we were challenged to push ourselves in ways we never had before, undergoing the rigors of an expedition in much the same way our students do. We lay on the floor of our retreat cabin in tears wondering if we were truly up to the task.

Our beginning was not so different than the beginning of Expeditionary Learning itself, what we now call EL Education.  In 1992, Outward Bounds Expeditionary Learning proposal was one of the 11 selected for funding from almost 800 to serves as an example of comprehensive school reform.  After 25 years, EL Education is the ONLY ONE of the 11 educational models still in existence! It began with the ten design principles and not much more. The intricate details of EL Education, like the rich educational experience we have created at PPCS, were built through working closely with dedicated educators who have brought the design principles to life; educators like the ones we have at Palouse Prairie Charter School.  They are the beneficiaries of EL Education’s legacy while at the same time, the creators of its future. They are leaders in their field; their expeditions serve as examples for EL educators around the nation.

Within this environment and framework, our students have become critical thinkers and are leaving our school fully prepared to tackle any challenge that comes before them.  Students are always at the heart of our work and the reason we are all connected. During the Open House, students spoke about their educational journey. Here are a few quotes from the evening they shared:

“One of my favorite things about our school is that it’s an EL education school. Each year every class has 2 or more expeditions. During these expeditions, the class explores real world issues, works with experts in the field we are studying and creates a final product which brings awareness of these issues by educating others beyond our school.”

-Sasha, 8th grade

“Not only are we tackling complex problems to solve, our curriculum embeds character development through experiences in the outdoors and our Adventure program. All these experiences provide us opportunities to spend time in the outdoors, discover something new about ourselves, make meaningful connections with our peers and develop a growth mindset.”

-Henry, 8th grade

“Throughout my entire school experience I have witnessed myself change and grow as a person and learner. As fortunate as I have been with my education, Incoming students will have the benefit of a facility far beyond what I have experienced. I hope that all future Palouse Prairie students can enjoy and appreciate the quality of their learning with real walls and durable temperatures and find excitement in having new opportunities to explore upon with the natural world, in the classroom, after school clubs and improved outdoor spaces.”

-Rosalyn, 8th grade

As you can see, we’ve proven that a school is much more than a building. If we’ve been able to achieve those goals in the ‘past-its-prime’ furniture store we’ve called home for ten years, imagine what we will be able to achieve in a beautiful new, energy efficient building with safety features, science lab, playground space, gardens, and room to grow – just down the street from what is soon to be Moscow’s first edible forest. We are incredibly grateful to the donors and supporters who have helped to make our dream of a new building a reality. We could not have come so far without the dedication of our families, their families, the experts who’ve donated their valuable time and the community members local, regional and national who have watched us grow and supported us along the way. I want to particularly thank our Development Committee and Board of Directors for all the hard work of getting us to where we are today. In addition, a special thanks to Biotracking for their $15,000 donation for our new Science Lab and to former parent Karen Ward for her $10,000 donation to name a classroom in honor of her parents. Karen’s parents were lifelong supporters of education and instilled in her the same desire to be of service. We value all our donors, whether a big donor or a struggling single parent who gives their precious time and energy. Every gift counts.

As exciting as it is to be in new space, there are still a few critical items we need to raise funds for, such as a key-in security system, playground structure, drinking fountain/water bottle filling station, main entry signage and athletic flooring for our multipurpose room. Among the many dedicated, hardworking people who are helping us raise funds is our own builder, Golis Construction. Tom Golis has offered to match dollar for dollar the funds we raise for our multipurpose room floor. If you’d like to help us maximize this amazing opportunity, please be sure to note that your donation is for athletic flooring. Words cannot express our appreciation to Golis Construction and his team and our architectural team including Laurence Rose, Ben Larsen and  Larry Kom, their cadre of contractors, and all the numerous hands who have left their mark on our school. The care and attention they have brought to their work will nurture our students for years to come.

There are a lot of ways you can still help us get the final items on our wish list:

  • Take advantage of our naming opportunities like buying a brick, shrub, tree, garden or classroom.
  • One of our dedicated parents is offering a free one-hour massage to the first ten new clients who donate $100.
  • You can host a fundraising event of your own. If you need some ideas, we have some examples to spark your imagination.
  • Spread the word about the unique hands-on education we provide at Palouse Prairie. Filling every seat in our classrooms would maximize our potential to provide the opportunities students deserve, the security that parents crave, and the facilities that teachers need to do their job to the best of their abilities.

Thank you so much for supporting the work of Palouse Prairie Charter School!

With much gratitude,

Jeneille Branen


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