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A Private, Independent PreK-9th Grade school in downtown Boise, Idaho. 

Spring Trip Adventures

May 17, 2024
By Soraya Mazloomi

Spring trips are officially coming to a close, and from all the pictures, happy faces, and chatter, it looks like another successful year is on the books! As a parent, sometimes we don’t fully understand the experience of our children as they engage in the meticulously planned spring trips at Foothills. On a good day, we may get an “it was cool,” or “I had fun,” and even the jaws of life couldn’t help out more. It’s one of those “you had to be there,” kind of moments.

I was fortunate enough to be able to join the 5-6s trip to the Teton Science School in Kelly, Wyoming this year, and I can report wholeheartedly that these kiddos experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hands-on learning and personal skill building. Experiential learning has always been a cornerstone of Foothills School, but to see it in action is something I will not soon forget.

The seven-hour bus ride demonstrated the ease of how students and teachers interacted and how well teachers knew every one of their students, giving just the right amount and flavor of attention. The nicknames, the jokes, the stories… it was a delight to witness. The rest of the week was a whirlwind of hands-on activities designed by Teton Science School, which had a very similar structure to Foothills in that the flexibility of the curriculum allowed for changes to accommodate the student groups’ interests. By the end, the three camp instructors were just as beloved as our own teachers, with special handshakes, team songs, and a bevy of inside jokes. Beyond the learning, relationships were forged, igniting new or deeper friendships with each other, and so much joy was expressed about each other’s accomplishments.

Witnessing the spark of understanding as we hiked through various terrains (ask a 5-6 student what ASCAR stands for, they’ll know!) was incredible, and the information was retained because they actually saw it, touched it, and deeply understood it. Using their guidebooks to identify trees, scat, and tracks and having confirmation of those finds built confidence in their abilities. After three days of learning and hiking, the culminating project really demonstrated their understanding of the scientific circle, showed their creativity, and fostered their teamwork. I have to say that my favorite part was during the questions, curiosities, and acknowledgments where each student found something they liked or learned about from each presentation, and each group was celebrated, because that’s what learning is at Foothills, a celebration.

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Teacher Sustainability Project Updates

May 10, 2024
By Mary Dobroth

Teacher Sustainability Project Updates

In late March, we shared that we are engaged in a teacher sustainability project to better support teachers so that they can better support students and create the distinctive learning experiences that are the hallmark of this school. Our goals are to:

--Provide teachers with collaborative professional time and sustainable responsibilities
--Sustain meaningful student experiences throughout the day
--Provide teachers with what they need to sustainably support all students in the classroom
--Provide families with effective evidence of their children’s progress via methods that are sustainable for teachers

Through our schedule redesign process, we have looked at ways to create more meaningful blocks of planning time when students are with specialists, combine lunches to allow for more cross-grade interactions, as well as create flex time during the week to build experiences and project learning time as students and teachers explore various interdisciplinary units throughout the school year. In addition, the creation of a K-6 PE position will not only create additional collaborative planning time for many teachers but will also provide the opportunity for the development of a thoughtful, research-based K-9 PE and Health curriculum. Teachers have been a part of the schedule redesign process from the start and are excited about how it is progressing.

Last week, faculty began the process of rethinking how we can more effectively communicate evidence of each child’s progress in ways that are more sustainable for teachers. We are exploring how students can demonstrate their learning and progress over time, how we can make student learning and progress more transparent, and how we can create more opportunities for families to experience the learning.

Ultimately, our goal is to better support teachers through sustainable practices that provide more space and time to create the type of experiences that make a Foothills education so impactful on our students' learning - where the arts and sciences are woven into meaningful experiences to inspire curious, confident, lifelong learners. 

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DEI Committee Work at Foothills

May 03, 2024
By Maria Lucas

DEI Committee Work at Foothills

As part of our continued efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion at Foothills, the Faculty DEI Committee (pictured here) has been hard at work this year helping to build belonging at our school. Those who know our spaces and people well, share a sense of closeness that we’re told is palpable. This Spring, the committee’s attention turned outward as well.

We embarked on reviewing our outward-facing media tools to evaluate how what is posted to our friends and neighbors in the community reflects the authentic work we do in the school to build a sense of belonging for students, families, faculty, staff, and visitors.

The team compared the message our media tells with the values we distilled from our DEI Statement, which states:

--We believe in diversity

--Our learning environment is equitable and safe

--A Foothills education promotes acceptance and appreciation

--Individuals feel included and respected

--Individuals are able to express their opinions and learn from others' perspectives

--Students develop the skills and attitudes to understand each other and act with justice and compassion

What we discovered is that we are being intentional in our work and we still have a ways to go to make our powerful message visible. One member shared, “I feel grateful for the safe space that has been created within the DEI Committee to authentically grow and be helpful in this work. We started our meetings choosing to be vulnerable, admitting we have much to learn, and agreeing that growth and change needed to happen. We stumbled and paused a lot. We were kind and forgiving, and trust was created while ideas surfaced. Risk-taking and discomfort led to reflection and leaning in. Then we were able to challenge each other and be honest. The tasks we have taken on are only the beginning.”

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Summer Camps at Foothills!

May 01, 2024
By Kate Shaine

Summer Camps at Foothills!

Summer fun at Foothills? What could be better!? For many years, families have asked for a summer program option at Foothills. From parents looking for full-time summer care to students hoping to fill a few weeks with fun and friends, there are many reasons to be excited about camp at Foothills! For younger students, camps provide a great opportunity for fun and learning in a familiar environment. Our older elementary students love connecting with friends and engaging in creative projects over the summer. Summer camps are open to students outside of Foothills as well as current students. 

Foothills Summer Discovery launched last summer with four weeks of camp and it was a great success! This year, we have expanded our program to six weeks, and we hope your students will join us for some fun at camp. Click here for more information; you can register using the QR code on the brochure or by clicking on this link.

Top 5 Reasons to Sign Up for Summer Camp at Foothills

#5 Comfort - With small classes, we can really take the time to know and care about our students as individuals and help them feel comfortable!

#4 Convenience - We know how busy parents are! We know it can be tricky to piece together a summer plan for students that’s both engaging and rewarding. To sign up, all you have to do is register HERE.

#3 Friendships - Participating in summer programming at Foothills is a great way to build and strengthen friendships. Our camps are open to students outside of Foothills as well as current students, and we pride ourselves on being a welcoming community!

#2 Fun & Play! - We’re offering lots of fun activities this summer to spark your child’s interests, teach them new skills, and allow them to play and explore in a safe, nurturing environment.

#1 Great Teachers - Many of our current teachers will be teaching during summer camps, and they are excited to work with your children over the summer!

If you have questions about summer camps, you can contact me at kshaine@foothillsschool.org.

~Kate Shaine

Director of Special Programs

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Foothills Mural Honors the Past & Present

April 26, 2024
By Katy Young

Foothills Mural Honors the Past & Present

As most of our families have seen, locally renowned artists Hawk Sahlein and Collin Pfeifer of Sector Seventeen have just about finished the mural they're creating for Foothills, and it looks so amazing!  

Foothills commissioned Sahlein, an alum of our school, and Pfeifer to help tell the story of Foothills School and the River Street neighborhood. This wrap-around, two-story mural located at the intersection of 9th Street and Miller Street features elements that Foothills students study and helps build a sense of place in this unique, historic downtown school location.

Local flora and fauna, alongside other science concepts, have been mixed whimsically with the arts central to the Foothills School experience in the mural, referencing projects that have been impactful to the school’s project-based learning approach. When asked what he most values about what he learned at Foothills, Sahlein shared, “Being encouraged to think for myself and being able to pursue what I’m most passionate about are two of the most valuable things I learned from Foothills.” 

The mural also honors the history of the River Street neighborhood, which was historically a Black neighborhood. Chinese, Basque, and Hispanic immigrants also resided in this vibrant neighborhood, which was filled with culture, music, food, and life. The school selected an image of the ‘Andre Family Orchestra,’ in which Erma Hayman is featured as a young woman sitting at a piano, to highlight the arts through time. The photograph comes from Boise City Department of Arts & History’s ‘River Street Neighborhood Collection’ of images. 

Foothills’ Head of School Nick Cofod shared, “We want to honor the history of the community we reside in, as knowing our history informs the responsibilities we carry into the future. Our project-based approach to learning often results in meaningful community connections and service learning for our students, helping to inspire our practice of being the kind of community we envision for the world.”

The school welcomes the public to drop by and check out the mural and is hosting a meet and greet during next week’s First Thursday event (5/2) from 5:00-9:00 to talk more about the elements featured in the artwork.

~Katy Young
Director of Enrollment Management & Marketing

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Recent Posts

5/17/24 - By Soraya Mazloomi
5/10/24 - By Mary Dobroth
5/3/24 - By Maria Lucas
5/1/24 - By Kate Shaine
4/26/24 - By Katy Young

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