The Jackson Hole Community School is a small independent, ninth to twelfth grade school that prepares students of diverse backgrounds for college and life beyond. We offer challenging academics, excellence in teaching, an array of extracurricular activities, and a supportive school culture. Our students are invested in their learning, value personal initiative, and make thoughtful contributions to their community.
We are a school that is committed to the highest standards of education, which will lead to a life of intellectual exploration and learning. We believe in the importance of diversity within our school, and therefore, we seek to develop a school community comprised of diverse cultural, racial, religious, and economic backgrounds. We encourage our students to be independent thinkers who embody a sense of personal integrity and an understanding of fairness and justice. We believe in a commitment to service that requires every person to be a responsible and contributing member of society. We value respect for each individual and embrace ideas and opinions that are different from our own. We encourage our students to succeed individually and to develop skills which will help them to become positive members of a team. We believe that a worthwhile educational experience that fosters continued learning requires a collaborative effort from the school, the home and the community.
The planning for the Jackson Hole Community School (JHCS) began in the fall of 1999 when the founders, Kathleen Crowley and Scott Hirschfield, met to discuss possibilities for a new high school in Jackson, Wyoming. Initially, the founders researched the charter law in Wyoming and found it to be quite weak and unsupportive for a start-up high school. Thus, the founders attempted to open as an independent school. Over the next year, they created the mission, philosophy and curriculum for JHCS and were able to recruit faculty members as well as twenty students, who were set to enroll in the Fall of 2001. Unfortunately, just a month before opening, the space the founders had planned to lease fell through, leaving JHCS without a home. Over the next year, the Wyoming charter law gained some strength through changes made by the Wyoming State Legislature. As true believers in the public school system, Crowley and Hirschfield decided to make a run to open the first public charter high school in the state of Wyoming. The pair submitted an application to the Teton County School Board #1 after a year of planning. In the meantime, they had applied and received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, they had lined up fifty students, who were excited to enroll for the Fall of 2003. Despite these efforts and despite tremendous local support, the Teton County School District Board #1 denied the charter application. After much thought, Crowley and Hirschfield decided they would pursue opening an independent school in Jackson, one that operates separately from the public system. The Jackson Hole Community School completed its inaugural year in 2004-2005 with 18 students in the ninth and tenth grades. The eleventh grade was added for the 2005-2006 school year and enrollment increased to 29 students. JHCS graduated its first senior class in 2006-2007. Enrollment for 2014-2015 is 96 students.
Students are expected to complete a curriculum that is rigorous, innovative, and focused on teaching academic, social and interpersonal skills. Students are expected to be prepared for their academic studies, to participate in their learning, to become self-reliant thinkers, and to develop a sense of purpose and agency, which will guide them in their future endeavors.
Learning Through Discovery
Learning and teaching are directed towards building knowledge and acquiring skills by cultivating habits of inquiry, exploration, and self-worth in all students. Allowing for learning to begin with curiosity and to be fueled by the passions of the students and teachers is the cornerstone of our school.
Commitment to Educating
All members of the school's community, including students, teachers, non-teaching staff and parents are expected to take part in the education of each student. All are expected to make a commitment to fostering a collaborative educational environment.
Service to and compassion for others is expected from all students. One of the school's primary functions is to prepare its students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and to be of service to others. Service is a way for all participants to be active members of the community and encourages their responsibility in the world.
Personal and Group Achievement
Students are expected to demonstrate commitment and perseverance in all of their personal and group endeavors. Students are expected to challenge themselves outside their realm of comfort and are expected to become aware of their own values and how these values impact their personal and group decisions. A tremendous emphasis is placed on the benefits of teamwork, caring for others, and developing strong interpersonal relationships.
Students are actively engaged in protecting and in learning from the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Developing a relationship with the natural world involves exploration, adventure, reflection, and solitude. Students learn to appreciate other living things and to become stewards of the earth.
Respect For Diversity
We believe that there are many routes to knowledge and that encountering diversity fosters learning. Participants must be committed to embracing diversity and practicing inclusivity as a means for creating such an environment. All participants are honored for what they bring to the community.
Excellence in Teaching
All staff are encouraged to reach their highest potential as educators. This includes demanding excellence from both oneself and one's students, exposing students to all aspects of learning, finding ways to constantly improve educational techniques, and helping to guide the direction of the school. All staff are committed to treating co-workers as professionals and to creating a nurturing environment based upon respect and teamwork.