Skip links

Introducing Bluum’s 2023 Idaho New School Fellow

By Terry Ryan and Sarah Meskin

One of the most successful programs led by Bluum as part of our “20 in 10” program with the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation has been our Idaho New School Fellowship. It has served as the talent pipeline for many of the top charter schools launched in Idaho since 2016. Alumni of this fellowship include the founders of Future Public School in Garden City, the founders of Elevate Academies in Caldwell, Nampa, Post Falls and Idaho Falls, the founders of the American Classical Schools of Idaho in Fruitland and Eagle, GEM Prep Schools and Mosaics in Middleton. In all there have been 24 Idaho New School Fellows and more than half of these have gone on to help open some of Idaho’s most innovative and thriving public charter schools.

The Idaho New School Fellowship is a one or two-year program that prepares future leaders to develop and launch an effective, innovative, and financially sustainable public charter school in the Gem State.

This academic year Bluum is excited to welcome our newest fellow to Idaho.

Jacob Francom

Dr. Jacob Francom is a first-rate educator from Montana who will serve as the founding principal of the North Idaho Classical Academy (NICA) in Bonners Ferry. The school is expected to open in 2025. NICA is part of the American Classical Schools-Idaho (ACS-I) network, aligned with Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI). NICA, at full-enrollment, will serve 390 K-12 Idaho students.

Dr. Francom brings a wealth of experience to NICA, with his previous work educating at-risk youth in a Montana school. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana in 2013 and his Master of Arts in Russian from the University of Arizona in 2006. He has actively contributed to multiple accrediting bodies’ boards, allowing him to conduct international professional development and accreditation visits for the past decade. This diverse exposure to global education systems equips him to connect with NICA’s curriculum and establish a successful learning environment for his students.

In Montana, Dr. Francom also held the position of the longest-standing superintendent in his region. During his career he has been awarded Montana Educational Leader of the Year and Montana Principal of the Year. His decision to take the helm at NICA surprised many who know of his outstanding service to students in Montana. His strong belief in classical models of Education like ACS-I and BCSI led him to collaborate with Idaho New School Fellow alumni Stephen Lambert, Vincent Kane, and Bruce Sims to learn the intricacies of launching a Classical Academy charter school in the Gem State. Classical academies, known for their emphasis on character education, deeply integrate virtues into the curriculum and culture, which is mainly why he decided to transition to taking part in the development of NICA.

Dr. Francom expresses excitement about ACS-I’s distinctive school model, highlighting a heavy focus on character, culture, literature, and arts, “That’s what makes me most excited, educating not just the mind but also the heart.”

Idaho and its children are lucky to have an educator of the quality of Jacob Francom.

Don’t Miss a Blog Post – Subscribe to our Newsletter!