How many students are enrolled?
Current enrollment is 108. We plan to expand enrollment in the first several years, bringing our total (and maximum) enrollment to 150 students.
How many staff do you have at the school?
We have six certified advisors (teachers) and four Special Education advisors as well as Paraprofessionals and Office Staff. We have committed to keep the ratio of students to staff at 18:1 or lower.
What qualifications do teachers have?
We have advisors licensed in the following areas: Science, Math, English, Social Studies and Special Education. Students will also learn from experts in the academic and business community
How is the school calendar determined?
Our calendar closely follows a “typical” school year, beginning in late August and ending in early June.
Is there a waiting list for students who are not chosen in the lottery?
Yes. As students graduate, move away or as other life events present openings, we will call the next person on the waiting list until the opening is filled. Waiting lists, per MN state law, cannot carry over from year to year. Each year, in December, we will call for new applications for enrollment and, if necessary, hold a lottery for the upcoming school year.
Are siblings given preference in the lottery/selection process?
Yes. Per MN state law, preference for enrollment shall be given to a sibling of an enrolled pupil, to a foster child of that student’s parents, and a staff member’s child before accepting students by lot.
How are letter grades determined?
Students do not receive traditional letter grades. By focusing on achieving the learning targets (state standards) using a project-based approach, students work toward mastery of the content and targets rather than working toward a single letter grade. Advisors work collaboratively with one another and the students to evaluate the projects and determine when the learning targets have been met. Credit, rather than letter grades, is awarded only after students have had their projects evaluated. Using project management software called Project Foundry, students will create an extensive portfolio of work. Demonstrated mastery of content during the project evaluation stage is what leads to the earning of credit and completion of learning targets- both of which are required for graduation at JGESA.
Will my student be able to attend post-secondary schools after graduation?
Yes. For students who choose to attend post-secondary institutions, JGESA can supply colleges with student transcripts, a portfolio of project work and more to assist in the college application process. Also, many colleges no longer require or do not emphasize test scores for admittance to college.
What grades/ages does the school serve?
While the school serves students entering grades 6-12, they are not organized in classes by age and/or traditional grades. Multi-age advisories are set up and students will freely interact with peers and adults of all ages throughout the day.
What is Project-based Learning?
Project-based Learning (PBL) is a student-driven model of learning that engages students by allowing them to pursue areas of personal interest and seek answers and solutions to diverse questions and problems. Students complete projects with the oversight of advisors. Students use software (Project Foundry) that helps them plan and track their progress. Project Foundry also requires daily recording of students’ work, and allows parents to monitor their child’s progress in real-time. Project-based Learning requires students to take ownership for their learning, advocate for their needs, manage their time and, most importantly, be actively engaged in their education. Because of this, students who struggle with inconsistent routines, flexible schedules and structure, or the demands of independent work, may find this setting to be challenging and frustrating. Due to the unique nature of our program, campus and educational philosophy, we strongly encourage all parents to tour the school, ask questions, and meet with our staff prior to applying for enrollment.
What types of projects are students doing?
Student-designed projects are as unique as the students themselves. Projects could focus on an endless number of topics. Students will complete many projects during the school year to earn credit and complete learning targets required for graduation. Some projects may be advisor directed, while others may be created by both the student and advisor. Students will work toward developing the skills that allow them to propose, design and manage their own projects.
Are students required to take state (standardized) tests?
As a tuition-free, public school (district #4229), JGESA students will take all required MN state assessments. All families, however, have the right to opt-out of any of these tests.
Does JGESA offer elective courses?
While students are expected to complete many of the same requirements for graduation as in traditional schools, at JGESA, projects based on student interests and passions drive the learning. Since the school does not offer daily lecture-based, formal “classes,” students may choose to pursue any elective, or area of interest, by building a project around that topic. Advisors will help students gain access to the necessary information and experts in these areas.
Do you offer Special Education services?
Yes, we have licensed staff who are trained to serve a diverse population of students with special needs. Due to the unique nature of our program, campus and educational philosophy, we strongly encourage all parents to tour the school, ask questions, and meet with our staff prior to enrolling.
How does the school handle transportation? Field trips?
We have contracted with two bus companies to pick up groups of students from conveniently-located “hotspots” in various communities. Our southern route will begin in Albertville and make stops in Monticello, Buffalo and Maple Lake. Our northern route will begin in Annandale and make stops in St. Augusta, Clearwater, Silver Creek and Annandale. Parents have begun to form carpool networks with other families who live nearby. We have a school-owned van that may be used to transport students on field trips or buses may be rented to do so.
Does the school offer extracurricular activities?
Based on students’ interests, activities could include: recreational sports (XC skiing, swimming, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc.), clubs (trap team, chess, computers, language, etc.), academic teams (Knowledge Bowl, debate, etc.), and student-led committees (yearbook, newsletter, etc.) These clubs or activities can be proposed by interested students. However, we are currently unable to secure a local district who is willing to partner with us to offer Minnesota State High School League sanctioned activities.
Can students participate in extracurricular activities in their home district?
Per state law, charter school students may participate in activities provided there is an agreement between their home district and JGESA. JGESA has committed to honoring an agreement with another other school district. Parents are encouraged to call the superintendent and/or attend a school board meeting in their home districts to inquire further. We hope other districts will honor the requests of the families in their districts and allow students to participate in the activities of their choosing. However, at this time, we are unable to find a local district who is willing to partner with us to offer Minnesota State High School League sanctioned activities.
Who is your authorizer?
We are authorized by Innovative Quality Schools (IQS), a “Single Purpose Authorizer”. Unlike other authorizers, their only mission is to authorize chartered schools. They are a non-profit corporation with 501 (c)(3) status. IQS was approved by Commissioner Alice Seagren as an authorizer on December 1, 2010. For more information please go to www.iqsmn.org.