I recently spent a morning with Principal Jay Salter learning more about Washoe Inspire Academy. This unique school with multiple locations offers a small-school setting using a blended learning model. Washoe Inspire Academy educates students at a main campus on Corporate Boulevard, the Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center, the Northern Nevada Adolescent Treatment Center, and the Children’s Cabinet Redfield Academy. The administrators and teachers aim to embrace and empower all students in a culture that is safe, caring, and academically rigorous. Principal Salter highlighted the use of direct instruction, online learning, and distance learning that is utilized to support the needs of all students.
The school has an excellent relationship with the University of Nevada, Reno for qualified interns. These interns support students at all of their locations providing much needed interventions so that they can achieve their goal of getting back onto the pathway of college and career readiness. An example of this is how they use these interns to provide addition math support in algebra that allows students to better transition and progress through the District’s math curriculum.
The school staff focuses on finding the good in every student’s situation and understanding who they are as people. Principal Salter and his staff rotate the location of their weekly PLC’s to all four sites so that they can develop a better understanding and to be consistent as a team. The staff also incorporates Parent Teacher Home Visits and boasts that every student has had a home visit.
Principal Salter has several chess sets in his office. He told us about an ongoing chess tournament where his students compete with AACT students. Community members have volunteered to visit Washoe Inspire Academy to play chess with students and prepare them for the competition. I really appreciate the way that the school and community are partnering together in this manner and many other ways to support the students at Washoe Inspire Academy.
I saw the Early Childhood students as they were going to the lunchroom for breakfast. They were very organized in the hallway and all had big smiles. They were able to enjoy the new tables and chairs in the lunchroom. Nancy Gage, the school’s cafeteria manager who was the 2018 Education Support Professional Employee of the Year, greeted them and got them all fed. She is a true asset to the school.
I visited with students and teachers in all of the classrooms. We also saw an art teacher, interns, and the family graduation advocate working diligently. Each classroom was unique with a variety of activities and tasks taking place.
I had an amazing time watching students, teachers, and community volunteers working on their project at the Adolescent Treatment Center. The students had created a crime scene and were doing a group project that included writing, interviewing, and presenting components. The students were all engaged and shared the details of this project with me. It was intriguing and quite complex. I had the pleasure of talking to several students who shared their aspirations with me. One young man is a talented artist and would like to study medicine. A young lady is loving her AP Government class and has her college plan mapped out that includes studying constitutional government. I was honored to be presented with a beautiful live bouquet from the school’s garden. I am very much looking forward to seeing some of the students I met at our upcoming graduation ceremonies. They have worked hard and I am very proud of them.
Lacey Keele, the Children’s Cabinet Director of the Redfield Campus, gave me a tour of the school. There are forty high school students at the school. They receive direct instruction and also do online learning. I learned that they have a new Project Based Learning (PBL) assignment every four weeks. The school boasts a large number of students preparing to graduate and they are extremely proud of the students. The students told me of their plans and shared their joy in applying for and receiving scholarship money to further their education. The Redfield Academy is making great strides and their support for our students is tremendous.
My thanks to the entire community at Washoe Inspire Academy – administration, staff, teachers, students, families, and everyone that provides our students with the resources to continue their education in these settings. These students have the opportunity to experience academic and social success because of the hard work and passion of Principal Salter and his team. Thank you for your great efforts!