The Power of Place: New School Fellows Create McCall Community School

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Our Idaho New School Fellows are a growing and varied group of individuals who are creating innovative schools to prepare students to thrive in our rapidly-changing world. Meet Dr. Jenny Schon and Patrick Berg; two veteran educators who share a vision of a personalized, community-centered school that reflects the values of their rural Idaho town.

McCall is a small mountain locale nestled on the shore of Payette Lake, within the Payette National Forest. For a number of years, the community has shown a growing interest in place-based education. For Jenny and Patrick, creating a school that reflects the community’s collective love of the outdoors is a natural next step toward serving families in growing Valley County. The Idaho Public Charter School Commission recently approved Jenny and Patrick’s petition to open the McCall Community School, a place-based, mastery-based public charter school.

As part of their fellowship, Jenny and Patrick will work closely with The Place Network and Teton Science Schools, located in Jackson Hole, WY; an educational network with a 30-year track record of strong student and school performance. This network will provide teachers and school leadership with start-up guidance and on-going development resources. The new school plans to open its doors to students in Fall 2020.

Jenny grew up in Western Washington where she fell in love with the mountains and all things outdoors. She completed her undergraduate degree at Western Washington University in Environmental Science. After several years conducting field research for the National Park Service, she earned her Master’s in Education, which allowed her to share her love of the outdoors by teaching science in Montana’s Flathead Valley. She also served as a Program Coordinator for an outdoor science school in McCall. These experiences led her to complete her doctoral program, where Jenny focused on developing Science Identity though the use of supplemental place-based, informal education opportunities.

She returned to the classroom at Meadows Valley, where Patrick was serving as Principal. Her experience working with the Idaho Mastery Education Network and her time in the field of outdoor education helped shape her vision of the school she and Patrick hope to create, and how it could benefit a diverse group of students.

Patrick Berg grew up in North Dakota and followed a non-traditional path into education. He earned his BS in Recreation Administration from the University of North Dakota. With his endorsements in special education and physical education, he attended University of Phoenix to earn his M. Ed. He then went on to earn his Ed. Specialist in Administration from NNU.

After moving to Idaho with his wife, he spent 14 years at the Nampa School District teaching Special Education, Physical Education, and serving as Athletic Director, Dean of Students and Assistant Principal. He then went on to serve as K-12 Principal in Meadows Valley.

Pat’s passion for education has intensified over the years, and his experience in Special Education has taught him the power of student-focused instruction and an individualized approach to learning. He enjoys the challenge of helping students fill their unique needs, meet their goals and create a vision for their future.

With the help of Bluum’s Idaho New School Fellowship, Patrick and Jenny look forward to providing a choice for students in their education, and a school that helps them build upon their individual strengths to ensure their success in the 21st century.