MISSOULA — We’ve heard the struggles our county public schools are facing in light of COVID-19, but there's one school in Missoula that often gets lost in the mix.
Tucked away on Sussex Avenue is a school that perhaps you’ve never heard of before.
"In our case, community is the most important part of our school," explained Learning with Meaning executive director Annie Graham.
Aspire Middle and High School caters to both full-time students and home school students who join in for only certain programming.
The entire school has fewer students than most traditional classrooms have desks. "I know all my students really well," English and Social Studies coordinator Mike Anderson told MTN News.
Along with a 6-to-1 student-teacher ratio, Aspire prides itself on experiential learning. Think robotics, film making, and outdoor education -- which most recently took the kids on an excursion to Fort Missoula to learn about fire safety.
But just because this school is one of a kind, doesn’t mean it’s not feeling the impacts of COVID-19.
"Some of our classes -- ya know we have a STEM club class where we’re doing lots of different STEM projects, and I think it was a challenge because we had to figure out, okay what do students have at home?" Graham said. "How can we change our projects from something like 3D printing, where they clearly need to be with us, to a project that they can do with tape and paper and some scissors."
Aspire opened its doors four years ago to offer a different option for kids that don’t learn in a traditional setting, and now they’re reinventing the wheel once again.
"We've had kids come in from different situations where they're really enclosed and they're not very social and they're very quiet and they hide," Anderson said. "And then, you know, second semester they’re with us we can't get him to stop talking they're, they have friends."
Click here to learn more about online options for students at Aspire Middle and High School.