Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences Academy is a project-based, teacher-led campus situated in the woods near Maple Lake, MN. Our student population is blended; six advisories, comprised of grades 6-12, are situated in three lakeside cabins. Our cabins overlook Cedar Lake and our projects often lead us into the environment around us. During our first year of operation students have participated in prairie restoration, ice fishing tournaments, maple tapping and syrup preparation, trail maintenance, and so much more. Every day is an adventure; we have held baby snapping turtles, watched herons glide, observed eagles nesting, and spotted fox kits. Witnessing the seasons change and communing with nature are simply part of the package at JGESA.
In addition to our ecological focus, our administrative design is intentionally left of the traditional model; we are teacher-led and committee based. We have each stepped up to fulfill different aspects of the administrative challenges all schools are faced with. When we have personnel issues, we are called upon to handle them. If we need to budget for another staff member, we need to have that difficult conversation among ourselves. When it is time to decide which bus company to contract with, we are all involved in the process. It is time-consuming - and often messy - but it is so much more rewarding. We have all worked in other situations, and I feel we can agree that this model - with its issues - is the model for us. Our involvement at the decision-making level allows for us to really feel invested in the progress and well-being of our school.
You should visit sometime!