It was nearly three years in the making. From meeting in a dining room to writing a more than 700-page charter to its opening day, Ely’s Learning Bridge Charter School opened its doors for the first time on Monday.
“It’s a goal we were finally able to realize,” Warren Krch said. “There were a lot of obstacles along the way, but every time we found an obstacle, we found a solution or someone would find us a solution.”
The road to opening has been a bumpy one, from attempts at finding a building to having to delay the opening of the school by a year. Most recently, it was working to make the school’s building, located at 505 Great Basin Highway in Ely, ready and safe for school.
Along with filling classes via a lottery system (classes are capped at 20 students) to hiring staff, the process to Learning Bridge was long and difficult.
“I knew it wouldn’t be easy because usually anything worth it isn’t easy,” Administrator Mary Flanagan said. “But there were times I didn’t know it would be so hard. When I had those moments, that’s when we used each other and helped each other through the hard times. Individually, it could never happen.”
During the summer months, the community worked hard to help prepare the school’s building that it would be ready for its 2013-14 school year and to welcome students for the first time.
“We appreciate the effort of our local contractors,” Krch said. “Gust, O’Flaherty, Terry Reck, you could come down here on any given Saturday or Sunday and find Terry doing things, saying this could be better, or let’s try that. They were all that way. It was amazing we had people coming out of the woodwork to help us.”
The school offers kindergarten through sixth grade and will add seventh and eighth grade in subsequent years. The school went through a hiring process that saw them receive 30 applications and had 20 interviews. One position, first grade, remains open. Julie Krch is volunteering to teach the class until a permanent teacher is found. But the school won’t take just anyone.
“They have to be those adventuresome, creative teachers who want to inspire leadership in students,” Flanagan said. “We’re pretty picky. They have to be a jack-of-all-trades. In a small school like this, we wanted to offer students other parts of us. We were looking for those interested in helping run after school programs as well.”
The school features a mix of teachers familiar to White Pine County students and some new to the area. One of those new teachers is Gina Kelly, who commutes from Cedar City, Utah, during the week and goes home during weekends.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Kelly said. “It’s exciting to be a part of a new school…I love when they learn a new skill and to see that they finally got something they may have been struggling with.”
Students currently enrolled at Learning Bridge are guaranteed spots through the rest of the grades offered. Open slots will be filled as they become available. Krch said he encourages people to sign up and get on waiting lists if they are interested. For more information about Learning Bridge, please visit www.elylearningbridge.org.
It may have been nearly three years in the making, but for everyone involved at Learning Bridge, it was worth the effort, Krch said. And while every first day of school is special, this one might stand out for everyone involved in the opening of the school.
“I didn’t think I could be as thrilled as I am now,” Krch said.