History, Mission & Goals
Mountain School was started in 1980 by parents seeking to reverse the deterioration evident in American education. The model for this school was the Lab School at NAU, where students studying to become teachers were able to do their practicum right on campus. It was a fabulous program where children flourished. When a new administration at NAU decided to cut the program, Mountain School was born. Mountain School did not have the luxury of an abundance of student teachers as the Lab School did, so we encouraged parents to fill that need, since all of the founding members had children of their own.
By the end of the first year, we had 19 students with all parents participating in some capacity. The average amount of time commitment was 4 hours per month, which is the number that still we strive for 30 years later. This small, but strong school was housed in the Unitarian Church located in historic downtown Flagstaff. We were lucky to have had such a beautiful site near the downtown community for 18 years.
When we chartered in 1996, funding improved and we were able to search for a site of our own. In the course of rapid growth and looking for an appropriate site, the parent participation took a back seat. The school had become more complicated with the basic needs multiplying each year. A talented building committee worked hard and long to bring a simple, but very functional building to fruition. We were packing our boxes to move to Ponderosa Trails to a 1.2 acre, 1.3 million dollar campus.
After we into got into our new site, it was time again to make sure that each family bought into our vision of a school where parents are an active and integral part of the program. One of the key goals was to create a program where parents are truly ambassadors of the school, ensuring its continued growth and good public relations with the community. This was a step up from our former expectation of parents, where they arrived to work in the classroom, or the boardroom, or in any capacity they felt they had something to offer.
What ensued was Mountain School’s first formal parent group. We settled on Very Important Parents or VIPs as an acronym. We also asked one parent from each grade level to represent the parents of that class as the Parent Advisory Committee.
Our goal is to keep the parents connected, supporting the teachers in meeting the educational goals of the children. Creating community is a secondary but very important goal. Building community within the school is the fun part of being involved with the school, and is inextricably connected to student achievement.