Donations to fund scholarships, operations and summer programming

BIG SKY DISCOVERY ACADEMY

The Big Sky Discovery Academy received more than $80,000 in donations during Gallatin Valley’s 24-hour Give Big fundraiser May 3-4. The amount was the second highest figure brought in by any participating Gallatin County nonprofit.

“We are thrilled Give Big was a successful event for area nonprofits, and for Discovery,” said Karen Maybee, the co-founder and school board president. “But more important to us is the many ways we will be immediately putting these funds to use to help our community.” She said this year 30 percent of their students are on scholarship, and their goal is to grow that number to 50 percent.

“One third of the Give Big donations will go directly to tuition assistance for families who feel Discovery is the best choice for their child,” Maybee said.

In addition, Head of School Nettie Breuner said the funds will help underwrite the regular school year operations, as well as the school’s burgeoning summer season.

“We are offering credit-bearing high school classes year-round for students who want to get ahead or recover necessary credits in order to graduate on time, eight weeks of a Mind the Gap program to help elementary and middle school students keep math and reading skills fresh over the summer, and both fine arts and learning-oriented camp programming,” Breuner said.

Last summer, 12 students took high school math using online curriculum and Discovery teachers. As a result, some of those students completed two years of math in one year, and all completed at least one course successfully.

Breuner said there are many reasons students opt for this combined method of learning. Some use online programming to free up class periods late in the school day so they can attend extracurricular activities not offered in Big Sky, such as hockey, lacrosse, baseball, soccer and skiing. For others, it can serve as a way to recover credit, refresh or reinforce skills.

“It’s all about helping meet individual student goals and needs,” Breuner said.

This summer will also see the return of the week-long College Essay Boot Camp, which assisted 13 current Lone Peak High School seniors complete their applications, request recommendations, and finalize a school list before the school year began.

“The hard-deadline approach really kept students from dragging out the process over many months,” Breuner said. Discovery Academy will continue to offer ACT prep and academic counseling sessions; as well as English classes for Spanish speakers throughout the summer.

Discovery Academy has also partnered with Big Sky Broadway as part of the school’s Community Learning Center. The children’s theater company started as part of Camp Big Sky, a division of the Big Sky Community Organization.

“We are excited about our next chapter as part of Discovery Academy,” said Big Sky Broadway producer Barbara Rowley. “[It’s] an organization that so closely aligns with us in terms of valuing creativity, education, and the whole child.”

Maybee, who started Discovery with her husband, Scott, as a way of meeting their family’s needs, said she’s delighted to witness the evolution of their idea and the increasing and essential support the nonprofit is receiving community-wide.

“Our aim is to be nimble enough to meet needs and fill gaps as they arise,” Maybee said. “The incredible financial support we received this spring … indicates to us that we are on the right track.”