MS: (208) 255-7771 HS: (208) 265-9737

March 2017 Newsletter

Principal Letter

Dear FBCS Families,

As second trimester comes to an end and the long winter snow melts, I think about the many things that make our school great: the students, parents and staff. Together, we accomplished new learning opportunities, began to develop a parent involvement/volunteer base, revamped Advisory after listening to student input, and introduced the third trimester project. The third trimester project for sophomore and juniors is based on “How can we give back to our community?” We would like to invite all sophomore and junior parents to our Third Trimester Project Parent Informational Meeting next Tuesday, March 28th. Together, we can make third trimester a wonderful educational experience for all involved. As the snow is melting, our Second Trimester is also coming to an end. Please remember all student work is to be turned in by 11:00 on March 31st. Spring break is the first two weeks in April. What a great way to celebrate the last of the snow!

Recently, an organization distributed a press release with various claims related to the recent formation of a GSA at the School. The FBCS Board Chair, Jim Zuberbuhler, has been meeting with parents throughout the week to discuss the press release. After meeting with the parents, he shared that one of the main concerns raised had to do with whether the GSA students had been taken off campus for any of their meetings. We can assure you no meetings occurred off campus, and our school clubs meet in a transparent and open fashion. Also, he shared that the group also would like the School to publish the list of the clubs at FBCS, which we gladly agreed to do. Jim feels the discussions were productive and appreciated the open dialogue parents were willing to have with him. If any parent wishes to have a discussion, he encourages them to contact him. His contact link can be found on our website under “A Statement from Forrest Bird Charter School.”

Below you will find a list of clubs our school currently has. Any parent or guardian may at any time contact us if they wish for their student to opt out of a particular club. Also, we are working on developing a description for each club, which will soon be posted on our website.

Advisory Clubs: These clubs are on Thursdays during advisory.
Magic: The Gathering
Oregon Coast Trip
Student Council

Student-led Clubs that take place during non-instructional times:
Game Club
Rubrik’s Cube Club
Gay/Straight Alliance Club
Pokémon Club
Drama Club

I have always valued open communication with parents and students and welcome you to call the school with any questions or concerns.

With Kind Regards,
Mary Jensen, Principal

Service Learning: A Lesson to Love

by Forrest Bird Charter School Staff

In April, Forrest Bird Charter School students will be studying math and science, English, history, and art through an unusual approach: giving to others. Service learning is a project that creates change and promotes positive interactions. Students entering the community to help others enables them to apply their knowledge and area of expertise to real-life situations, and in return, enriches their perspectives of community issues and promotes interactions between teens and organizations and businesses.

The integrated learning scheme is individualistic for each project member: students will apply content-area learning, such as science, into the service they perform. For instance, if a student chooses to beautify Sandpoint by creating a flower bed, he will also study soil and nutrients, native plants, upkeep, geometric logistics, and other related topics to coincide with Idaho Content Standards aligning to his grade level. Project ideas reach as far as the students’ imaginations and access to service learning sites. Reading to patrons at assisted living homes, creating art with younger children, maintaining bike paths and walkways, aiding in service origination such as the Rotary Club, the Food Bank, or Park and Rec., painting murals to beautify the schools, and creating apps for local organizations are a few ideas for our 100 student service learners.

This is where you, the reader, come into play. Students will be serving throughout the month of May and are in need of community projects. If you have community service ideas and connections, please contact Forrest Bird Charter School and let us know your ideas. The faculty would like to provide a wide variety of options to students now so they can be thinking about how they can best serve. Please call 265-9737 and leave a message for Holly or email with input and insights. we appreciate your help in helping our community.

3rd Trimester Service Learning Project Informational Meeting

If you are looking for more information regarding the service learning adventure, please join us on Tuesday, March 28th at 5:30 p.m. for an informational presentation along with a question/answer session. Opportunities for parent involvement in this unique learning experience will also be presented. We hope to see you there!

During the 2015-16 school year, FBCS students and students as a whole experienced more stress and anxiety than previous years. They faced many deaths involving suicides, family members, and even a teacher. In addition to this, we have a population of students who experience high anxiety, stress, and panic attacks as well as a population of students who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Mary Jensen, the charter administrator, wanted to help staff and students feel more calm in order to increase not only their learning during the day, but also to help with the emotional and mental well-being of the students.

One weekend, Mary turned on the show “Lucky Dog”. The particular episode included a story of a trainer who was training a dog for a young man who experiences high anxiety. The trainer explained how dogs can lower the feelings of stress and anxiety. This was the beginning of the idea of having a dog in the high school.

Mary spent much time researching the idea of dogs in schools. The Harvard Medical School published a report about the health benefits of dogs. The publication explained the benefits of dogs, in general, where just petting a dog can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, and make people feel safe. Additional research provided information that trained dogs in schools helped decrease discipline issues, increased standardized test scores, and helped students stay connected to the school environment and increased learning potential.

While researching, Mary also had many conversations with FBCS staff about what they thought about having a trained dog in the high school. Jennifer Greve and Laura Maas described the benefits of having Ms. Maas’s dog in the classroom for math students. They believed that having the dog in the classroom helped calm the students and allowed them to focus and learn better. Being convinced of the benefits of a trained dog in the school, Mary began having more conversations with the staff, as well as animal behaviorist, Dr. Debbie Ford, about the logistics of having a dog in the school.

When Mary brought the idea to Hillary DeCecchis, Hillary was more than willing to help. They decided that if they were to have a dog in the school, that they would be “co-parents” to the dog by sharing the training and the responsibilities. They even developed a system of having the dog spend time in both households in order to help widen the world of the dog as well as sharing the responsibility of ownership. With the help of Dr. Ford, the decision to adopt and train a puppy was made because a puppy would not have past bad experiences that may show up at times. Once Hillary and Mary became convinced that having a dog would benefit the school community, Mary began to research good dog breeds for a school and began to look for a puppy. She decided that a Golden Retriever would work well for the purpose. Mary spent time speaking with and visiting several breeders. During these visits, she conducted some minor tests with the puppies. After Thanksgiving, Mary and Hillary found a local puppy whom they felt would work well and brought her to school.

After the puppy was introduced to a school environment full of sounds, smells, and the richness of life surrounded by students and staff members, there came the big name reveal during a lunch period. In honor of our school’s namesake, Dr. Forrest M. Bird, the name of Avita, Vita for short, was announced. To read more about that day from the student perspectives, visit the column in the ­Bird Eye News.

Training a dog in a school environment is proving to be quite the challenge! Vita is confronted with countless personalities, scents, noises, and general stimulation. Bringing Dr. Ford in to help with appropriate training techniques, encouragement and teaching us to “think like a dog” have been invaluable. Not only is Vita in training but so is the staff and the student body.
Vita is learning basic obedience commands and is able to perform Sit, Down, and Wait with certainty. We are working on Heel, Quiet, Settle, Come and Leave It. She was spayed on March 14 and in about a month we will have her settled personality in place. Students and staff are learning how to approach her as she sometimes is overstimulated and timid. When she is at school, she is working and in class! Due to the large and stimulating environment in which she is being raised, we have cut her “working” hours to half-days.

Those chew toys, dog bowls, treats and bed visible while you visit the office wing do not belong to the humans. Vita lives the life of our school’s therapy dog and we would not have it any other way as we observe, learn, and grow with her.

Staff Spotlight Misty Rains

Misty Rains was born in Fort Collins, CO. Her family moved to Alaska when she was three years of age. They briefly lived in Fairbanks and North Pole while living the majority of her childhood in Anchorage. Being the middle child of seven children, Misty spent over eleven years of her childhood hunting, fishing, camping and tromping outside Anchorage as well as countless family trips to Seward, Homer, Kenai, Valdez, Cordova, Denali Park, Talkeetna, Glennallen, and even to Haines. At 14, Misty moved back to her birth town in Colorado where she later graduated from Poudre High School. She participated in cross-country, soccer and played French Horn while in attendance.

After high school, Misty followed her scholarship to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at the small liberal arts college, Misty was captain, coach and president of the Women’s Rugby Team, playing scrum half and leading her team to second place at the Ohio State University’s Valentine’s Day Tournament. She was president of the Multicultural Council and an active member of the Junior and Senior Class Council where she helped set up a scholarship fund for incoming, low-income students. She spent a summer working jointly for the State of Colorado, the University of Colorado, and the Colorado State University collecting mollusks and crustaceans to assess water quality and biodiversity. She appreciated the opportunity it gave her to camp for weeks at a time and see such beauty in some of the most remote locations in Colorado.

After graduating with a major in Molecular Biology and a minor in Anthropology, Misty moved to a hostel outside Yosemite National Park in California to train for both her Emergency Medical Technician certification as well as her Wilderness First Responder certification through the National Outdoor Leadership School. After receiving her certification and short employment period in Fresno, CA, Misty moved back to her birth town and joined the Poudre Fire Authority Volunteer Firefighter Academy. Her pregnancy led to her resigning from the academy to stay at home with her son and the later addition of a daughter to her family. While at home with her children, Misty began graduate school through the University of Northern Colorado to pursue her teaching certification and Master of Arts in Teaching for Curriculum degree. Simultaneously, she was attending nursing courses at Front Range Community College and worked night-shift for a year as a certified nursing assistant. After deciding to move to northern Idaho with her husband and two children, she eagerly took on the task of being a student-teacher for Sarah Evans at Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School in 2015 and completed her teaching certification. In June of 2016, Misty effectively transitioned to her position as the Chemistry and Physical Science teacher here at the high school and continues to pursue her master’s degree.
Misty loves to be outside in all capacities – from skiing, wakeboarding, camping, fishing, hunting, to mountain biking, dirt biking, gardening, hiking and trail running. She loves fiber crafts like knitting and quilting. Lastly, she makes time to read many books and is always looking for recommendations for great books.


ISAT Testing

March 28th ~ 7th grade science will take place in the middle school.

April 19th and 20th ~ ELA and Math for both the Middle School and the High School.

April 25th ~ The All school SAT for registered Juniors. Students should be ready to test at 8:15 a.m in the Bird Room and come prepared with two number 2 pencils, approved calculator (please go to for a list) and snacks for short break periods. No cell phones will be allowed in the testing area and a good night sleeps prior to testing along with breakfast is recommended. Juniors will have already set up their College Board account when they registered for testing and can be obtain test study materials and additional information about free tools available from Khan Academy.

Dual Credit Students

April 7th ~ Registration opens for continuing dual credit students for Summer session.

April 10th ~ Registrations opens for continuing dual credit students for Fall Semester.

April 24th ~ Registration opens for new dual credit students for Summer Session and Fall Semester.

***Reminder to all Senior Parents and students to check their e-mail for all of the scholarship and college information I send out regularly via Mail Chimp. Currently open e-mails are tracking at 16%.