There is a new undertaking when it comes to educaiton within the Idaho Falls School District 91. It's called the Compass Academy, a new magnet high school.
Inside we find out why it's an alternative method of learning.
Some of the newness still shows as Principle Matt Bertasso shows off the industrial look in the long hallways of the school, but it's inside the classroom you'll want to focus. It's not your traditional learning enviroment.
"Our tagline, so to speak, is 'learning redesigned,'" said Bertasso.
Two subjects of a similar nature are combined. Teachers interact more with students. Students interact more with one another. You won't find any textbooks, but rather laptops all logged in together to a cloud-like network called ECHO.
"We want them to have a real-world experience when they are in school and not just answer the question that's in the textbook on page 73," said Bertasso.
"I just enjoy knowing that we're not going to do the same old thing every day. We're not just going to open a textbook and do a lesson," said sophomore Cinthya Reyes.
"This is a huge learning curve for us right now also as teachers and so we're learning the process along with the kids, but it's an exciting process and we're having a great time with it," said teacher Mary Towler.
There is always some kind of focus with a magnet school.
"Our focus is the mode of instruction. While a student is still learning the same standards, the same content that a student would learn in a traditional school, they are going to learn it in a different way and for us, it is through projects," said Bertasso.
Teachers find where curriculum would be used in the real world and bring that to the classroom in the form of a project or real-life aspect. The students then discover where the objective fits into a real-world application.
"I like it," said Reyes.
"One of our main goals is that a student doesn't ask, 'When am I ever going to use this?'" said Bertasso.
Bertasso said overall, students are excited. Some are nervous because it is a new way to learn, "basically undoing nine or 10 years of traditional learning," said Bertasso.
But the word of success is getting back to parents.
"A number of emails today that said, 'Thank you so much for what you're doing. My son has never been so excited to go to school or to be picked up from school,' and they're just excited when they are done," said Bertasso.
Compass Academy has about 285 freshmen and sophomores right now. Bertasso said they will add an additional class each year until it is a full four-year high school with about 600 students. The school took over the building that once housed Clair E. Gayle Junior High. Construction is on tap to finish by fall of next year.