Western Sierra Charter opens with 450 students

Three teachers, from left, Machelle Arington, Julie Davis, and Gabby Franck, have left other schools to join the teaching staff at Mountain Home Charter this year.
Three teachers, from left, Machelle Arington, Julie Davis, and Gabby Franck, have left other schools to join the teaching staff at Mountain Home Charter this year. Sierra Star

From 40 students in 1994, Mountain Home School Charter and Glacier High School Charter will open today with about 450 K-12th grade students.

The two schools are operated by Western Sierra Charter Schools (WSCS), under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Cox.

“Our schools have provided high quality parent and student support for 23 years,” Cox said. “We believe in customized learning which is parent lead and student focused. Some call this ‘home schooling.’ We like to call it ‘personalized learning.’”

Cox said everything they do at the schools is based on a “menu” of options.

“With your teacher’s guidance, parents and students put together the instructional program and curriculum that best suits their goals and learning style,” Cox explained. “Imagine the power of such customized learning with the parents always out in front of the process. If you want the best and most options, including classroom interaction and instruction with the freedom of home based learning, our schools are the place for your children.”

Cox explained that Glacier High enjoys a long relationship with the Oakhurst Community College.

“Our students can participate in ‘dual enrollment,’ earning both high school and college credit at the same time,” Cox said. “Many of our students graduate high school with at least one year of college already completed.”

Cox said that this summer, WSCS completed a major remodel of the main 8,500-square-foot building by Craig Friesen Construction, converting a large part of the open-air room into three classrooms, a library and four offices.

When complete, the front of the classrooms and library will be multicolored with different facades resembling main street in a little town, similar to a movie set.

“We also installed a high efficiency heating and air conditioning system, and all of this will be powered by our own solar generation which is being installed in the very near future,” Cox said.

New teachers

“We are growing and as a result we are excited to welcome three exceptional new teachers to our programs,” Cox said. “Each of these ladies are already well known and loved by many people in our community as they are joining our family focused program from other area schools.”

Cox called the three new teachers to the school program “superstars who bring loads of additional expertise to our instructional team.”

“Each of these teachers will work directly with students and parents, like coaches, helping support authentic parent-led, student-centered personalized learning,” Cox said.

Julie Davis is joining the program after teaching for 14 years, split between Rivergold and Coarsegold Elementary. Gabby Franck joins the staff after being a K-3 teacher and coach at Wasuma Elementary for 21 years. And Machelle Arington, with 22 years experience in teaching, the last four at Coarsegold Elementary, will serve as Mountain Home School’s Special Education Coordinator.

Davis said she’s looking forward to “joining the dynamic group of teachers and staff at Mountain Home School Charter and partnering with Mountain Area families in the further development of their children’s education.”

Franck said she loved being with the great staff at Wasuma for 21 years, but the move will allow her more time with family.

“This is a great group of people here and I am excited about the new school year and meeting all the families at Mountain Home Carter School,” Franck said.

Arington said she is looking forward to working with families that are so invested in their children’s education and life learning.

Western Sierra Charter Schools also operates a 6,000-square-foot learning resource center in Fresno, with a staff of seven teachers and two administrators.

“We have experienced enormous demand for our schools in Fresno,” Cox explained. “This year we will serve over 200 students with their families. To accommodate the growth we have hired Sandra Hammond as another teacher. At both locations, Oakhurst and Fresno, we will be offering a wide selection of seminar style classes for kindergarten through twelfth grade. These include many different options in math, English composition, chemistry, biology, a variety of art options, various robotics, student leadership, ASL and choir.”