Innovation School


“Where ‘compelling’ meets ‘different’ to create ‘better’…”

This is the foundation of a new school in Bismarck that’s unlike any other in the community.

I spent the afternoon with some pretty unique, special elementary students and their families who are getting ready for the first year at Bismarck’s Innovation School.

The teaching techniques at the school are quite different than what we’re used to seeing.

“Why can’t school look differently? Why can’t we have a little more flexibility?” said Maggie Barth, Director.

These were the questions in Maggie Barth’s mind when her children entered elementary school.
Now, just a few years later, she answered those questions herself, with “we can.”

“I’m excited for it all,” said Amethyst Breiner, Student.

The Innovation School has a goal in mind to focus on learning about each individual child, and focusing on their skills and interests.

“Students can be really engaged in a project, and instead of having to be like ‘Oh, sorry, it’s math time, we’ve got to move on,” they can stay in that project,” said Barth.

“One of the goals of the school is helping kids find their passion in life, which sounds kind of silly, them being 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, but that excites me. At any age, to find a talent, a passion, something you’re excited about,” said Kayla Meisel, Parent.

With a class ratio of only 12 students to 1 teacher, parents say they’re excited for their kids to learn in an engaging environment.

“To embrace a different way of learning… I think this is going to fit his personality a lot better,” said Beth Friesner, Parent.

“It’s gonna be easy to learn and have fun,” said Gavin Friesner, Student.

“I’m excited to learn stuff,” said Evelyn Meisel, Student.

The classes aren’t in your average school building, either.
They’re here- in one of the oldest homes in Bismarck – and it’s “no desks allowed,” because the approach is hands-on.

“Progress. It’s something progressive, it’s something that I believe is better than what we’re doing in lots of ways. It’s about time,” said Kayla Meisel, Parent.

One 5th grader says this is the most excited she’s been for the start of a new school year.

“I just love the way we kind of get to do the things that you want to do, and also, we have time where we spend it with people our age, but we also get to spend time with the younger children,” said Amethyst Breiner, Student.

Barth says it’s a step in the right direction for these growing students to embrace their own interests and curiosity.

“When they leave us, they’re going into high school. And what a great thing to know – more about who you are,” said Maggie Barth, Director.

She hopes to continue expanding on teaching styles that are unique, just like every young mind.

So far, there are 10 students enrolled for the 2017-2018 school year.

Barth says they will take up to 36, and will keep the 12:1 student/teacher ratio.

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