Education in the WRV

Education is an important part of the equation that makes Blaine County so special.

Photo courtesy of Syringa Mountain School

Blaine county schools embrace and educate

Community means something around here and our education system is committed to building foundations that create exceptional humans. When the world seems to be moving away from unique forms of education, our school district is embracing all the different ways students learn. Our teachers, in both public and private education, are combining real-world experiences with academics to build confident and passionate humans who will have a lifelong passion for learning. 

Our local schools go beyond expectations to provide unparalleled opportunities for every student. If school is a place where dreams are made into reality, then Blaine County delivers.

This community offers opportunities that are out of the norm and families who are new to the area are in for a treat.  Not only is there a strong focus on academics, art, technology, and engineering, but also experiences like horseback riding, ski week, swim week, field trips, and more. On a regular basis, students are provided opportunities to leave campus and experience new levels of learning that they might not find anywhere else. 

When considering a new place to live, finding the right school is critical and while our public schools are pushing the boundaries of education, our private schools are literally blowing the doors off of the traditional classroom.  Many families move here simply because of the unique experiences and educational choices provided.  The ability to cultivate and grow individual differences and embrace students when needed has developed some of the country’s most impactful young adults who are leading lives filled with purpose and adventure. 

Since its inception in 1973, Sun Valley Community School has inspired students to think critically, embrace challenges, and lead impactful, purposeful lives. The school serves more than 400 students in grades PreK–12. Close student-faculty relationships, a renowned outdoor program, and project-centered learning define the school’s distinctive educational experience. The school’s thriving residential program, founded in 2011, attracts students from across the country and around the world. The Sage School in Hailey is an independent day school for grades 6–12 that honors adolescence and strives to create a dynamic learning environment through a curriculum centered on human ecology and engaging experiences that promote self-awareness, community responsibility and a sense of place. Honoring the more than 110-year tradition of Montessori education, Pioneer Montessori School serves children 18 months to 12 years old in multi-age classrooms that reflect the emotional, academic, and social needs of children throughout their development. Pioneer’s small, urban campus in Ketchum provides a unique school experience. Hailey’s Syringa Mountain School (shown right) is Idaho’s first public elementary school guided by the core principles of Waldorf™ education. The K–6 charter school offers a full music program, Spanish instruction, and garden education. At Bellevue’s Waldorf-inspired Trinity School, students in grades 4–7 receive an independent education that incorporates music, handwork, and nature-based learning in a mixed-age classroom. For the youngest students of all, the Wood River Valley offers an abundance of high-quality private preschool programs, each with its own strengths and areas of focus.

Blaine County School District (BCSD) serves approximately 3,200 students at its eight schools, which include a STEAM school serving grades K–8, a dual-immersion magnet school serving grades K–5, a comprehensive middle school and high school, two neighborhood elementary schools, an alternative high school, and a rural K–12 school. 

With its mission of inspiring, engaging, educating, and empowering every student, BCSD is known for its award-winning arts programs, preschool and all-day kindergarten classes, advanced opportunities, diverse student body, dual-immersion language program and low student/teacher ratios.

The district’s salary scale, professional development, and vast opportunities attract some of the best teachers in the country. 

Class sizes in BCSD schools also go beyond expectations. The Hailey community is passionate about education, and there is nothing small about it except maybe the classroom sizes. A class size of 18 is the goal for grades K–2, and a class size of 23 for grades 3–5. Middle and high school class sizes are usually under 25. Students will experience both larger and smaller classes depending on the demand, but overall, the small class sizes are something that parents and community members value the most about Blaine County schools.

BCSD encourages innovation and a whole-child approach to education. Several years ago, parents in Ketchum began talking about the possibility of a new learning approach for Hemingway Elementary School. After conducting research and focus groups involving parents, staff, and community members, the school received Board approval to launch the area’s first STEAM school, where science, technology, engineering, art, and math are intentionally integrated into all lessons across the curriculum. “We have a school where learning is guided by real-world problem-solving,” said Hemingway STEAM School Principal Tish Short. Hemingway students often work collaboratively across grade levels to explore concepts in math, science, language arts, and social studies that connect across subjects. For instance, a fall hike to Baker Lake gives students a chance to become scientists by making weather observations, measuring and examining trees, and then writing about their experience afterward.

A few years ago, BCSD adopted a Social-Emotional Learning curriculum that promotes student health and well-being. “We recognize that a physically and emotionally healthy, nutritionally astute, and physically active child is more likely to be academically successful,” said Director of Teaching and Learning Angie Martinez. Teachers across the district integrate social-emotional skills throughout the school day. This might look like a structured lesson where students learn to recognize emotions in early elementary grades, or a stream-of-consciousness writing project followed by a small group discussion in high school. From beginning to end, the goal is to equip all students with the skills they need to flourish—both in school and outside of school.

What’s the end result? Public and private education in Blaine County goes beyond expectations. All students are given opportunities to be inspired, engaged, educated, and empowered in ways that build exceptional adults. 

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