Front of RISE Charter School

Rising Up To Serve More Students

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RISE Charter School partners with Kimberly School District to provide another option for students

by Lindsay Trombly

Students enrolled in the newly-created RISE Charter School in Kimberly, ID will ride the school bus with their siblings who attend nearby Kimberly Elementary and Middle Schools to experience going to school – together. RISE opens its doors to students this August.

Superintendent of Kimberly School District Luke Schroeder said RISE is a product of the district’s 25-year master building plan. The district was projected to be serving 1,400-1,500 students at just the elementary school, demonstrating a clear need in the fast growing community to create another school option families to utilize. Schroeder said they explored many different ideas, but at the end of the day they decided to create a charter school.

“I just think what a wonderful opportunity for choice for our parents,” Schroeder said.

Idaho New School Fellow and Executive Director of RISE, Heidi Child, who helped build the school from the ground up, agreed that there was a need in the community for the school.

She said RISE, which is an acronym for “Relevant, Innovative, Self-Directed, Exploratory,” is based on the Summit Learning model. The school offers project-based, individualized learning, and seeks to develop students with a growth-mindset.

A family puts together tables at RISE Charter School

A family puts together a table for RISE Charter School.

“As a teacher and as a mom [of a special needs student] I always felt like there was this cohort of students that were being missed that weren’t really able to show their full potential in the traditional academic model,” Child said. “It honestly has been very exciting to be able to take some of the thoughts and ideas that have been in my mind for many years and put them to use.”

In Idaho, three entities may authorize a public charter school – a public school district, the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, or a public college or university. Kimberly is one of a handful of districts in the state that have chosen to authorize a public charter school.

But The Kimberly School District is more than just an authorizer – it provides RISE with a facility, and shares district resources, such as transportation services, food services, IT services, janitorial and maintenance services.

“Not only did we authorize the charter, we are also the landlord. But we are in this figuring out each other’s role in the process, because we want to be there to help support RISE but at the same time give them the autonomy needed for them to be able to be creative,” Schroeder said.

While the district is able to provide many amenities to RISE, $406,615.00 in federal funding earned through the competitive Communities of Excellence federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant gave RISE the ability to purchase furnishings, technology, and additional equipment that the district isn’t able to provide.

Mural in RISE Charter School

A mural is on display in the hallway at the school.

Schroeder said superintendents were surprised by the idea when the partnership started, but now they ask him about the charter school as well as the Idaho New School Fellowship and CSP Grant opportunities at Bluum. Child and Schroeder agreed that creating this school was a team effort.

“We’ve had the incredible opportunity hiring people knowing that this was going to be a pretty heavy lift,” Child said. “That this was going to be a lot of work and that it’s going to be worth it in the end to provide something really exceptional for our students.”

A school culture of trust and growth-mindset is an important aspect Child wants to create at RISE Charter School. One way to build that culture is sharing a meal together. Every morning students will attend “Bulldog Breakfast,” free of charge.

“We are going to try to build relationships every day. Students are going to ask questions to people at their table, ranging from ‘what’s the biggest challenge you have going on in your life right now’ to ‘if you had a superpower what would it be,’” Child said. “But it’s also to teach kids how to communicate with adults and with each other.”

Schroeder said RISE is there to compliment the district and not compete with it. He said he realizes this is a “work in progress,” knowing they will have to make adjustments along the way and, “having an open relationship between the charter school and the district is going to be key.”

“We can’t look at education as just the Kimberly School District anymore. It’s Kimberly’s education community, which is Kimberly School District and RISE,” Schroeder said.

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