Golden Apple: New Charter School Open In Bemidji
The Aurora Waasakone Community of Learners is a new charter school in Bemidji that provides place-based learning experiences that allow students to understand the past, present and future of Minnesota.
Anna Wallin, Aurora Waasakone Community of Learners Director and Co-founder, states, “Shannon and I met teaching at Schoolcraft which is another charter school in Bemidji, and we knew there was need for another alternative learning charter school in town because Schoolcraft has such a long wait list. We also became really passionate about the type of learning we were doing, we were doing outdoor education, we were making relevant experience for kids, mixed-age classrooms, and we just thought we could meet that need in our town by starting another charter school.”
The name of the school is significantly meaningful to the state of Minnesota – Aurora, which represents the Northern Lights, and Waasakone, which means “to shine,” “to glow,” “to give off light.”
“The big goal is for students to become active citizens in the community, whether they live here or they move away, we want them to know they’re important member in a society. They can make good impact and poor impacts on people around them and we think teaching them and giving them relevant learning experiences will provide that so when they’re adults they know that’s important.” stated Wallin.
Teacher Janessa Green says that this curriculum allows students to have more independence, become apart of the learning and become their own leaders.
“I think that it doesn’t put them in a one-size-fits-all box. I think they get to kind of lead their own learning and it leads to how they’re feeling about it. It’s not we’re going to do this one day and this the next day, it’s very fluid based on their needs. We have a very supportive staff that love it here and all the students love it here, and it’s a very warm, supportive place for all students and all staff and very welcoming.”
The school is on a five-year growth plan to grow from 80 students to 180 students. Next year, a seventh and eighth grade will be added as well as an additional first and second grade.
The school still has four open spots for enrollment.