Parents unite to form Perry’s first public charter school

Three years ago parents in Box Elder County united to form the first Public Charter School in Perry and in a few days as many as 450 students will attend their first day of classes.

Construction on a 43,000 square foot building began in March and a few days after a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, August 11 at 10 a.m. classes for the K-8 school will be underway.

Board Chair of the new Promontory School of Expeditionary Learning in Perry, Valerie Neslen, said several parents have been involved in the founding of the school.

“You would probably get a different story from every parent involved about why this school was formed. Part of our strength is that we have parents who care a lot about their child’s education. That is what we all have in common.”

 Promontory School is a charter school and will receive funding from the state, the same as any traditional public school.

“It is a very rigorous process to get a charter school up and running,” said Neslen, “beginning with writing a charter for the school and getting it approved through the state. We had to prove to them we could sustain the program we have proposed and that we can manage the money entrusted to the school.”

The school is open to all students and if the demand exceeds the school’s 450-student capacity a lottery will be held.

The school’s board has hired teachers.

“We went and looked for the very best and I think we found them, 17 teachers now preparing for the first day of school.”

Neslen said there would be two classes at each grade level.

“The building was planned to work with our method of learning which is ‘expeditionary learning’. It’s a project-based learning, it’s experiential. We believe students should really be able to experience things as they are learning. An expedition is a long-term project in specific topics they are studying. We use that topic to teach the entire curriculum.

“They learn English and science and math and music and social studies and all of the disciplines while studying a specific topic.”

Expeditionary learning also brings field experts into the classroom allowing children the unique opportunity to gain a real-life perspective.

Neslen said the students will wear uniforms to encourage culture and simplicity.

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