Indian Peaks plans new expeditionary learning program
Last week marked the end of Indian Peaks Charter School’s (IPCS) membership with the East Grand School District (EGSD) and officials from Indian Peaks are already looking to next year when the school will begin implementing a new daily schedule and a highly anticipated expeditionary learning program called the Outdoor Education, Wellness and Leadership (OEWL) Program.
Indian Peaks Charter School will officially leave the EGSD this Friday as they formally begin their contract with the Colorado Charter School Institute (CCSI). As administrators, teachers and other staff members at IPCS deal with the transition to a new school district they are also prepping for the beginning of the next academic school year. Indian Peaks will begin classes for the 2016-2017 school year on Tuesday Sept. 6.
When the new school year kicks off students at IPCS will experience a new daily class schedule. Starting next year IPCS will conduct classes from 8:05 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The school will conduct their new expeditionary learning program on the second and fourth Friday of each month. Indian Peaks will no longer hold classes on the first and third Fridays of the month when expeditionary learning outings will also not be held.
The new OEWL program at Indian Peaks is an effort to reconnect with some of the founding principles for which the school was created. The new program will emphasize outdoor education and wellness along with the social and emotional learning for students.
Polly Gallagher, former Indian Peaks Academic Director and current OEWL Program Director, explained some of the thought process behind the development of the new expeditionary learning program and why IPCS moved ahead with the plans when they did. “Going through the whole charter school institution process and with Allison (Beauvais, new Academic Director for IPCS) transitioning in it is a good time to revamp and look at things. We are going back to what the original school intention was/is.”
The new OEWL program is open to homeschool and private school students who can enroll through IPCS as part-time students to participate in the program. There will be no additional fees for part-time homeschool or private school students to participate in the Indian Peaks OEWL program.
The expeditionary learning outings will be daylong affairs with students, teachers and parent chaperones. The outings will feature lessons in areas such as warm and cold weather survival, hiking/snowshoeing, first aid/cpr, alpine skiing and fire safety among others. Officials from Indian Peaks hope to establish working relationships with various entities such as Grand County Public Health and Rocky Mountain National Park for the OEWL program.
Gallagher said the specifics of what each OEWL outing will entail is still being completed but offered a rough outline. A basic expeditionary learning trip will begin with students arriving at a pre-determined location. The day’s lesson kicks off with a review of goals. Students will typically prepare some type of ancillary materials as teaching aides, such as posters or flyers with specific lessons. The lessons themselves will be conducted in spurts throughout the day and will be held outdoors.
Gallagher said she anticipates the outings will be divided up with roughly three-quarters of the day dedicated to outdoor activities and lessons and about one-quarter dedicated to review. Indian Peaks has previously held outdoor education excursions in places like Rocky Mountain National Park, where students learned to build snow shelters, but past iterations have been less formal or structured.
The new OWEL program at Indian Peaks is part of the schools outlook for developing students. “Our mission at the school is, ‘exemplary and aware young citizens’. We have really been focusing on what that means,” said Gallagher.
“So many schools are focused on test scores,” added Allison Beauvais. “We want them to do well on tests, but we want them to be good citizens too.”
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