Staff Report

Tahoe Expedition Academy (TEA) and +Impact School announced Dec. 13 that they have raised raised $10 million in funding in partnership with the Martis Valley Education Fund. If the schools raise another $1 million, they will receive a $5.5 million matching grant to complete Phase 1 of their innovative new flagship campus in Martis Valley, which is set to open in late Fall 2017.

TEA has operated out of Kings Beach since 2011, as a Pre K through 12th grade, nationally accredited, independent school, and its 2017 class will be the first to graduate. TEA hopes the building of its new campus in Martis Valley will establish itself as “the best Pre K-12 school in the Tahoe region and to have a large positive impact locally and nationally,” according to Mark Kushner, CEO and head of TEA and +Impact School.

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The $5.5 million matching challenge grant would be awarded by the Martis Valley Education Fund if the school can raise another $1 million. Kushner plans to use these funds to to secure the land and initial facilities for the entire school, grades K-12. The school is currently in the process of funding and organizing the transition into the new campus for its existing programs.

“We are vigorously exploring options for our wonderful Pre K program to provide space in its current location for one more year, raise additional funding to provide temporary space on-site, or to raise an additional $1.5 million to build a state of the art pre-k building for Fall 2018,” Kushner wrote in an email to Moonshine Ink. “We want to bring the entire campus together on this beautiful Martis Valley location. We can do most of this next school year if we raise an additional $1 million.”

The schools broke ground on the new 42-acre campus in July 2016, and are currently one third of the way through the enrollment season for the 2017-2018 school year. Kushner says that they have 150 students currently, 100 inquiries for the next school year, and they hope to have 200 students by the time the new campus opens. The new campus permits allow for 350 students, and Kushner hopes to build residential facilities for additional board students in the future.

+Impact School and TEA base their curriculum of of an innovative, first-of-its kind learning experience that builds critical thinkers who aren’t afraid to make mistakes and think outside the box. In a press release they cite a unique combination approach to radical personalization, project-based learning and constructive adversity as tools to engage students and empower them to reach their full potential.

● Radical Personalization: +Impact School uses the latest software platform created by Summit Basecamp, Stanford and Facebook engineers and educators, enabling a blended approach to learning that provides students with both a solid academic foundation and engaging project-based learning. Both +Impact and TEA personalize instruction, ensuring that graduates understand both the humanities and the critical science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) subject areas.

● Expedition-based Learning: Unlike passive, “one-size-fits-all” learning, +Impact School and TEA put students in the field to experience real-world scenarios, tough situations and problem-solving first hand. Projects include spending ten days designing and building a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV), collaborating with industry professionals at NASA / JPL and SpaceX, and field testing their work in the waters off the Santa Cruz Islands. Students have also traveled to Greece and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with aid organizations for refugees, learning about the problems this community faces, and identifying solutions to these problems. Even very young children at TEA work with experts in the field, traveling to state and regional parks, farms, and exploring such themes as western expansion, environmental challenges and geological forces.

● Constructive Adversity: The schools’ ‘survive and thrive’ constructive adversity experiences push students to the boundaries of their intellectual, social and personal comfort zones, where true learning really happens. Through the use of constructive adversity, students proactively develop important character traits like adaptability, collaboration and resilience, which they apply in real world situations and will prepare them for success in the 21st Century workforce.

“The vision of the school has always been to push the boundaries of education for our students and usher in a new era of learning innovation to help all students enjoy the power of learning, reach their full potential and succeed in the real world,” said Kushner. “This funding will enable us to continue that vision by providing students with the most stimulating, impactful learning environment possible at our new Martis Valley campus.”

The deadline for Priority Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year is Feb. 8. For more information on TEA’s Pre-K – 8th grade programs visit www.tahoeexpeditionacademy.org. For information on +Impact Schools 9th – 12th grade programs go to www.impactschools.com/.

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