New charter school opening in Palm Desert

Hope Academy open to public

Palm Desert, Calif. - It looks like your typical grade school classroom. Motivational mantras are written on white boards, books line the shelves, and the alphabet wraps around the walls.

The thing that sets this school apart though, is the shiny new desks will only be sat in for half the day.

For kindergarten through 8th graders at Hope Academy, class officially ends at noon.

"They take that time after 9 to 12 and they have an individual appointment with each one of their teachers so they can get the specific help that they need," Hope Academy Executive Director, Jared Mecham said.

Hope Academy will be open from 8 to 4, with children free to leave most days at lunch. Teachers set students and their parents up with enrichment programs in the afternoons, pointing them towards educational opportunities outside the standard classroom setting. There is also time set aside for personalized instruction.

"The set up is a little bit different because you are meeting one on one with the student," Hope Academy Director of Operations, Steve Gilliam said. "You're able to cater to where their abilities are, whether it be a higher level or a lower level."

Hope Academy has hired five teachers and has about 30 students enrolled in Palm Desert so far. They have another state funded school in Yucca Valley entering its third year. Mecham says it has 400 students and a wait list.

"We have a lot of parents who have really kind of said, 'Wow this is a different way to do education, and we like it! We get to be involved and my kids are still getting an education,' Mecham said. "There's no packets. It's all text books"

Hope Academy is a fully accredited, public charter school. Enrollment is open to anyone in Riverside County. There is no charge to attend, and there is space available.

Hope Academy is also enrolling 9-12 graders. High schoolers will also spend much less time in a typical class room setting, doing most of their school work at home.

For enrollment information visit http://www.hopeacademycharter.org/palmdesert

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