Cottonwood School District is participating in the Idaho Leads Project - A select few districts around the state are participating in the project aimed at helping leaders and educators to continue preparing young people to go on to further education and to become lifelong learners. Cottonwood’s 10 member team meets with other school districts to work in job-alike groups to share and to grow in ideas that are then brought back to each respective district. Idaho Leads is a project sponsored and funded by Albertsons Foundation and Boise State University.
Team Members: Bekka Bruner and Dakota Wilson, students; Lynn Guyer, Board Member, Rene’ Forsmann, Superintendent; Randy Brown, Jr/Sr High School Principal, Ryan Hasselstrom, Teacher; Loretta Poxleitner, Parent; Becky Higgins, Teacher; Vikki Riener, Teacher; Denise Uhlenkott, Office personnel.
Prairie High School didn’t have a speech class so Social Studies teacher Patty Hinkelman went back to school. She already has teaching endorsements in English, Social Studies, History, French and Communication, but the life-long learner wants her students to have the opportunity to take classes in any subject they want. If that means she has to go back to school, she’s all in.
“I love to learn! I’ll never stop,” Patty said.
Patty is a typical example of a Cottonwood School District employee. Most teachers and administrators have added to their resume in efforts to offer more choices to Cottonwood students.
The superintendent, Rene Forsmann, is also the elementary school principal. Business and Technical Education teacher Ryan Hasselstrom is the director of technology, the football and track coach, and is getting his PE endorsement. The school clerk is a volleyball coach as is a special education aide and one of the custodians fills in as a substitute teacher.
Electives such as Drama, Music, Spanish, Accounting, Interactive Video, Weight Lifting, Media Applications, Desktop Publishing, Art, and Technical Illustration, in addition to core subjects like Chemistry, Algebra, English and History are offered by versatile Prairie High School teachers. What used to be a limited offering of core subjects typical in a high school is now a flourishing multitude of options for the 142 students at Prairie High.
Prairie staff members are creative with spaces for learning as well. Librarian Mille Wimer teaches sewing as an elective, so room for sewing machines, fabric filled cabinets and sewing projects was created in the library in order to offer sewing throughout the day. “This is a joyful and sometimes very noisy place!” Mille said.
Science teacher Liz McLeod holds certificates in Natural Science and Earth Science.
“I have taught in a number of other places, but I’ve never been in a school like this. We work together for our students,” she said.
The extra work of staff members is paying off in high student achievement and college and career readiness.
Three of four juniors and seniors take dual credit courses and five teachers are certified to teach dual credit courses. This spring, Senior Makayla Schaeffer will graduate armed with 35 college level credits, enough to begin her college career as a sophomore.
Health teacher Sheri Daly aptly described Prairie High School like this: “We believe in our students and we do what it takes to make sure they succeed.”
(Article in next week’s paper featuring the Industrial Arts Program and Jerry Richardson….)
PHS student has earned 35 college credits
MaKayla Schaeffer will graduate from Prairie High School in May with enough credits to be considered a sophomore in college. The classes she has taken include challenging curriculum such as Math 147 (Pre-calculus), Psychology, Economics, Advanced Biology and Chemistry. MaKayla began earning college credits during her sophomore year and earned a total of 20 credits before her senior year and will have earned 35 by high school graduation! Even though she has chosen a very rigorous path in high school, she maintains a 4.0 GPA and is senior class president.
MaKayla’s success is not only in academics and leadership. She has lettered in basketball (her team earned state championship this year), lettered in track, and participates in the high school rodeo. When she’s not participating in sports or studying, she enjoys being outside and riding her horses.
Her future plans include earning a degree in Secondary Education in Biology and possibly to continue on for a degree in Medicine.
MaKayla’s sister, NaTosha Schaeffer, is currently a junior at the University of Idaho. NaTosha will be able to graduate from college with a degree in Secondary Education in just 3 ½ years. All 20 of the dual credits NaTosha earned in high school were transferable and she is therefore able to complete all necessary degree requirements in a shorter amount of time.