Photos by Marcy Stamper
Over the past few years, students and staff at the Community School helped beautify the grounds outside their classrooms at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. The school emphasized a sense of place, using the Methow Valley itself as a classroom.

After 18 years of providing expeditionary learning to generations of Methow Valley youngsters, the Methow Valley Community School is not offering classes this fall.

“It was basically a staffing issue,” said school director Allison Ciancibelli. “Had we found the right staff for kindergarten through sixth grade – even with low enrollment – we would have been able to move forward.”

The board of directors and staff spent considerable time reviewing their options over the summer. “We didn’t take the decision lightly, but it feels like the right decision this year,” said Ciancibelli.

The school, which had students from first through sixth grade last year, was planning to add kindergarten and had strong interest from families for that program, said Ciancibelli.

The expeditionary model uses child-centered, inquiry- and project-based learning to help students develop a sense of place and learn about science, math, writing and the arts. The school used the Methow Valley as a classroom to explore natural history and ecology.

Since the Community School started in 1999, the Methow Valley School District has incorporated more field-based learning. The International Baccalaureate model, which the district began using three years ago, also incorporates an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based framework.

“There have been great years of learning, great teachers, and lots of inspiration,” said Ciancibelli. “People are sorry to see it go. It has been a wonderful option for many families in this community.”

The board hopes that someone, or a group of people, will be interested in taking on the school’s nonprofit status and a wealth of academic materials, art supplies and furniture to continue the school in the 2019-20 academic year, said Ciancibelli.

“In some way or another, there will be other modes of education. There’s always rebirth and regrowth,” said Ciancibelli.