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Innovative Incline School Programming Middle School Style

August 14, 2023 | Kathy Slocum

 From: ‘LIVE.WORK.PLAY. Summer 2023’

Middle school is a tricky developmental time for humans. It’s when we start to become self-confident enough to both be a part of and separate from a variety of groups. It’s when we are most keenly aware of how our peers are behaving and when labels like math nerd or class clown can stick. Importantly, it’s also when academic interests begin to solidify. Research has shown that if a student does not show interest in a particular subject, like STEM for example, by 4th or 5th grade, they will not do so. This is particularly true for higher-level classes (like STEM) as students will not have the basic skills needed to take courses later on.

Luckily, Principal Kari Michael and the staff at Incline Middle School understand this complicated developmental time. They know that relationships are built on shared experiences, interests, and goals and they work to provide those shared opportunities for students.

When students feel a part of a group, they also tend to work harder, care more, and invest in the cohesion and success of the group. IMS has done a great job creating a number of avenues for students to build those relationships while experiencing new activities. Here are a few examples of the unique programming offered at IMS.

Wednesday Exploratory Session

Principal Michael developed this weekly program to help students re-engage in school post-pandemic and/or to have an opportunity to get caught up in subjects that they may need more support in.

Students who are on track academically can choose from a variety of experiential opportunities, while those who need academic support can work with a subject teacher in their area of need.

Several options are offered each quarter and are meant to broaden student interest and allow them to challenge themselves. Students choose from a variety of themes and with the generous support of our local community, have been able to go off-campus and learn more about different subjects. Incline Education Fund sourced and funded student activities in partnership with local businesses. From skiing with Nevada

Nordic and Tahoe-Multisport, to leadership classes with Bowl Incline, to a glimpse into the animal world with Pet Network, and to Incline Education Fund-sponsored water safety lessons and a spring special with Truckee’s Gateway Mountain Center, IMS students can widen their horizons, develop new interests and even start thinking about potential future careers.

The IMS Robotics Program

Incline Education Fund was recently awarded a $50k grant from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation & Technology to scale up the robotics program at Incline Middle School. The curriculum is aligned to Nevada Academic Content Standards for Computer Science and integrates a final, capstone project each semester. Those projects give students the opportunity to address a real-world issue and require them to present their solution to a public audience. Robotics is offered both as an elective class and an after-school LEGO Robotics Club. Additionally, IMS has created a Girls Who Code Club that is supported by the local AAUW chapter.

The program is proving to be highly successful. Levels of student engagement, teamwork, and collaboration have exceeded expectations and the capstone projects are a great way to showcase student work.

This robotics program is a bridge for those students interested in STEM, as they can solidify skills they’ve developed in the Incline Elementary School Makerspace program and build the foundation they need to succeed in the Incline High School Engineering & Entrepreneurship program. Incline public school students can now take dedicated STEM courses from K-12th.

Wellness Zone

IMS has also created a place where students can learn to address their personal emotional regulation skills. The Wellness Zone is a quiet space where students can get 1:1 academic support or work independently on a project. It is also a space where counselors can run small groups and provide lessons to our special needs students. Detailed Wellness Zone data reports are proving the effectiveness of students having access to a space where they can go to get help when neede

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Incline Elementary and Incline High School receive STEM School Designation from Nevada Governor’s Office

August 13, 2023 | Kathy Slocum

from ‘LIVE.WORK.PLAY. Summer 2023’

Article from: LIVE.WORK.PLAY. Summer 2023

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation & Technology (OSIT) awarded both Incline Elementary and Incline High School their coveted Nevada Governor’s STEM School Designation. The ceremony took place at the Governor’s Office in Carson City on May 16th, 2023. This seal of approval means that both IES and IHS meet the highest standards of STEM instruction and are models for schools around the state.

Incline Education Fund worked closely with both IES and IHS school staff to apply for the OSIT designation. IEF will apply for the Incline Middle School designation in 2024-5. This would make Incline Village the first and only STEM Designated K-12 school system in the state of Nevada.

The Nevada Governor’s OSIT only recognized 13 schools for the award this year. These are schools that demonstrate exemplary performance in STEM and have comprehensive, school-wide systems in place to support STEM learning. This award acknowledges that these schools implement high-quality, research-based, hands-on instruction. OSIT schools also partner with the community to develop relationships and authentic learning opportunities. Both Incline Elementary and High Schools have proven that they demonstrate these practices.

For the last two years, with the launch of the highly successful, IEF-funded makerspace, Incline Elementary School has focused on providing a high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Trina Kleinhenz, the IES makerspace teacher, coordinates with each of the K-5 teachers to tie the STEM curriculum into their grade-level classwork. This collaboration creates a unique opportunity to engage students in real-world problem solving, creative design, critical thinking and career opportunities through STEMfocused formal and informal education.

Principal John Stern said, “I am extremely proud of all of our teachers and students and this “Developing STEM School Designation” proves the high-quality education that IES provides to the Incline community”.

Incline High School was awarded the “Established STEM School Designation” for their Engineering & Entrepreneurship program and the work they are doing around individualized college and career guidance.

Engineering & Career & Technical Education Teacher

Adam Shoda joined IHS this fall and brought his 20-year experience of instruction and his work with the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum with him. His PLTW classes are managed under a Simulated Workplace classroom management model, which provides students with skills that prepare them for future professions, including leadership roles and how to work as a team to complete real-world tasks.

STEM learning at IHS is not confined to the obvious science, math, engineering, and tech classes. The STEM tenets of problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration are woven throughout a student’s IHS experience. Other examples include the highly successful “We the People” AP US Government & Politics class, the Stormwater Quality Leadership Program, the Culinary Arts program, and the Podcast Studio.

The OSIT award also recognized IHS’s “Learning through Interest/Internship Program” (LTI) led by Deirdre Carney. Ms. Carney is the IHS Internship Coordinator and works directly with students to expose them to a variety of fields, including STEM. Her position is funded by the Duffield Foundation and is implemented through an advisory model that is focused on student interests. Students begin the LTI program with informational interviews with community mentors that may lead to shadowing opportunities or internships. These mentors offer students exposure to real world experiences that seek to highlight relevance to their academic learning.

IHS Principal Tierney Cahill stated that “IHS is honored to be recognized as the first and only high school in the Washoe County School District to receive the OSIT award. It is a testament to the dedication of our staff and the quality work of our students. We could not have achieved this milestone without the community support from both the Duffield Foundation and the Incline Education Fund.”

Incline Education Fund is dedicated to the task of tying the STEM programs at all three Incline public schools together to create the first and only K12 STEM Pathway in the state. They are launching a STEP Up for STEM fundraising campaign with a goal of $300,000 to stabilize these exciting programs. Funds will be used for STEM program costs, academic tutors & mentors to get students to grade-level competency, equipment/technology, and new programs to keep the curriculum cutting-edge.

For more information about these programs go to: Inclineeducationfund.org

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The Local Lens – Winter is Coming!

October 31, 2022 | Kathy Slocum

We’re thrilled to welcome guest author, Kathy Slocum, to pen this week’s Local Lens. She is a current board member and the publisher of our LIVE.WORK.PLAY. magazine. She originally moved to Incline Village in 1991 and has lived in the area since then, but returned to Incline Village in 2017. Please enjoy her article–
Greetings! Our weather is quickly changing, and winter will be here soon. We’ve got some great events coming this weekend. 
UNR at Lake Tahoe Ski Ball Fundraiser – Saturday, November 5 at 5:00 p.m.
Division 1 skiing returns to Nevada which is very exciting for our area. UNR’s new Athletic Director, Stephanie Rempe, has brought in Mihaela Kosi, who served as Sierra Nevada University’s (SNU) alpine skiing head coach since 2018. Mihaela will assume the same role with the revived University of Nevada Wolf Pack program. The addition of alpine skiing to the Wolf Pack varsity sports lineup is part of the University’s transition of assets and operations from SNU to the rebranded University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. The SNU program has called Diamond Peak their training ground for many years. The UNR training program is undecided. Find out more about the Ski Ball, purchase tickets, or participate in the silent online auction here.
Over the last few years, I’ve trained with the Masters ski program offered by Diamond Peak Ski Education Foundation (ski team) and experienced the SNU athletes training. Their skill level is amazing. For all the aspiring ski racers, snowboarders, and all mountain skiers please consider joining one of the season long programs ski education programs with DPSEF.
Gather in Gratitude, Sunday, November 6
The 32nd Annual Tahoe Chocolate and Wine Festival is another great event I am looking forward to attending. Proceeds go to Sierra Community House whose mission is to connect and empower our community through family strengthening, crisis intervention, hunger relief, and legal services. Find out more and/or purchase tickets here.
Northern Lights Festival
IVCBA’s Northern Lights Festival begins Thanksgiving weekend and celebrations continue through December. Watch for the complete schedule of events in our upcoming issue of LIVE.WORK.PLAY. magazine, scheduled to arrive in your mailboxes by November 21. Visit www.northernlightstahoe.com for all the festival information and updates. I hope you enjoy the magic of the season.

As we approach the change of season and the winter months, I reflect on how much I love living in Incline Village, with access to amazing outdoor recreation and am reminded how fortunate we are. 

Kathy Slocum can be reached via email at kathy@ivcba.org.

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Community Profile: IHS Principal Tierney Cahill

August 18, 2021 | Kathy Slocum

PRINCIPAL, Tierney Cahill, comes to the post with an inspiring backstory which sheds light on innovative techniques in education she’ll be bringing up the hill with her.

Back in 2000, challenged by the 6th grade class she taught at Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School in Reno, Cahill wound up running for Congress. She had her class run her campaign, offering a prime example of projectbased learning and winding up becoming the Democrat’s nominee in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. 

That experience caught media attention, including an NPR piece, Ms Cahill Goes To Washington and led to Cahill writing a book with Linden Gross. Ms. Cahill for Congress One Fearless Teacher, Her Sixth-Grade Class, and the Election That Changed Their Lives Forever (2008, Penguin/Random House) garnered national attention and a CSPAN interview by Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in April 2009.

During her 31+ years as an educator, Cahill has had the opportunity to study at both the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is currently taking part in a program on school finance run by Georgetown University.

Of coming to Incline High, Cahill said that she is looking forward to the opportunity, as “there’s potential for innovation and creativity in a small school that is more difficult to create in a larger system.”

Cahill’s approach to education allows for students being involved in solving real world problems.

Her main focus this coming school year, though, will be to find ways to re-engage students back into school, past the pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on education.

“I am concerned about the anxiety and mental health issues of young people. Isolation has not been kind to many children,” she said. “it’s going to be important to really be in tune with our students, build relationships and help them achieve their personal goals.”

Cahill added, “I think we just need to meet kids where they are and not stress them out. This was a worldwide pandemic. How about saying, great job getting through a horrible time. It’s going to get better, and we’re going to be by your side to help you.”

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