JGEMS: Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the focus of JGEMS?

The curriculum of JGEMS is focused on environmental field studies. Therefore, all subjects are integrated with an environmental focus. As such, education takes place in the classroom and outdoors to enhance and apply learning. Field work involves everything from planting trees to gathering data to going on extensive interpretative trails. Students have two full-year science-related classes each year, with a regular integrated science class and a conservation biology class. JGEMS is a four teacher, 99-student school. Although JGEMS is independent, the charter school is housed on the Oregon School for the Deaf campus.

How else does JGEMS differ from traditional public middle schools?

With only 99 students and small staff, JGEMS provides all the state required core courses, along with extra science. JGEMS does not currently have extensive elective options, but offers gardening, robotics, field journaling, biological illustration and art. While there are only 99 students total, this means that all class sizes are 33 students, this will be larger than most other middle schools. So while our overall community is small, each class is large, and this should be considered before choosing JGEMS.

How is field work integrated into the curriculum?

All field work is required as these experiences reinforce and implement what has been learned in the classroom. The three year curriculum is based around field work, which includes overnight camping trips and a weeklong 8th grade expedition. Students work on a variety of scientific research and habitat restoration projects. JGEMS has many long term relationships with environmental centers that provide a focus for our outside work. We do have a field trip fee of $100 a year and an additional $300 for a student's 8th grade expedition. We have some scholarships available for those in need. The list of field trip experiences includes but is not limited to;
  • Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
  • Drift Creek
  • Oregon Zoo
  • Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Mt. St. Helens Johnston Observatory
  • Lava Lands State Park
  • Canoe Island Science Camp
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • High Desert Museum
  • Smith Rock State Park
  • Opal Creek Educational Center
  • Canoe Island Science Camp

Is JGEMS required to participate in state assessment tests?

All charter schools within the state of Oregon are required to administer state assessments. The results are reported in a similar manner as all other public schools, with state record card ratings. JGEMS also focuses on Student Learning Goals and therefore tracks students individual growth rates. There are typically three categories of state assessments, math, science, and reading. Math and reading assessments are done yearly (6th, 7th and 8th grade), and science is assessed in grade 8.

Does JGEMS offer physical education and are sports available?

Physical education is offered at all three grade levels (6th, 7th and 8th). There are also after-school sports teams run by OSD staff with some openings available for JGEMS students. Typically, our students can participate in soccer, basketball, volleyball and track.

Does JGEMS accept TAG and IEP students?

JGEMS does not discriminate against, or show preference toward TAG or IEP students. Our staff and a district IEP team can meet to determine the suitability of the program for a particular student.

Is school bus transportation provided?

No. Many parents work together to form carpools but there are no district-sponsored buses. Some students take the city bus to and from school.

How can I determine if JGEMS is a fit for my child?

Any child entering JGEMS must be able to work with others in the classroom and in the field. In addition, an inquisitive love of science is important. Students must be committed to lengthy field work programs that extend past normal school hours and entail overnight camping. They should be tolerant of inclement weather and enjoy getting their hands dirty. Safety is our first priority in the field and therefore students are required to be able focus on work and follow all directions during field work. Our curriculum focuses on group work and projects, both in the classroom and in the field. Students must are able to do their part of a project and cooperate on group investigations.

How do I enroll my child in JGEMS?

A child considering enrollment in JGEMS must be a student within the Salem-Keizer School District. Enrollment applications are accepted each year for incoming 6th graders following a parent information meeting in March. There are 33 student slots available. Incoming 5th graders who have a sibling in the 6th or 7th grade enrolled at JGEMS can be grandfathered in. 5th graders with a sibling in 8th grade will have to enter the lottery.  The lottery is held in mid-March and students are placed on waiting lists if they are not chosen for the initial 33 slots.

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are based on three principles, choice, accountability and freedom. These are tuition free, public schools of choice that are supported by public funds. Parents and children are given an opportunity to choose a school that meets their educational standards. Likewise, teachers are able to choose new approaches and settings to best shape their work and learning environment. Charter schools are bound by the charter agreement to be accountable to their sponsor (Salem-Keizer School District) for the performance of their students. In return for their accountability, charter schools enjoy greater autonomy and freedom as reflected in the choice of curriculum developed around a specific theme or focus. Despite the uniqueness of individual charter schools, they are accountable to goals set forth in specific federal and state statutes. Thus, the goals outline a framework for school enrichment and assessment. These goals include the following:
  1. Increase student learning and achievement;
  2. Increase choices of learning opportunities for students;
  3. Better meet individual student academic needs and interests;
  4. Build stronger working relationships among educators, parents and other community members;
  5. Encourage the use of different and innovative learning methods;
  6. Provide opportunities in small learning environments for flexibility and innovation, which may be applied, if proven effective, to other public schools;
  7. Create new professional opportunities for teachers;
  8. Establish additional forms of accountability for schools;
  9. Create innovative measurement tools. ("Oregon charter," 2007, p. 1)
Reference Oregon charter schools 2006-2007 evaluation report. (2007). Oregon Department of Education. Retrieved December 5, 2008 from http://www.ode.state.or.us/..200607finaleval.pdf