Mission

  • Our Mission

    Meeting students where they are, then taking them where they need to go.

    We focus on creating spectacularly transformative learning experiences. Our students master critical thinking in order to reliably develop unique solutions for nearly any challenge.

    Our Beliefs

    1. We are a relationship-based, small learning community focused on individual learning needs.
    2. We understand students need help and guidance with life issues as well as academic growth.
    3. We believe in choice, not chance.
    4. We believe students deserve to be treated respectfully and are capable of returning respect.
    5. We believe students learn best in a diverse setting, so we promote effective collaboration between students across all backgrounds and interests.
    6. We focus on projects and firsthand experiences that promote curiosity and deep engagement.
    7. We believe our students after graduating will be thriving members of the global community.
    8. We are alternative and believe in challenging the status quo.

    The Willard Alternative High School Program in Missoula, Montana is a school of choice. We only enroll students who have chosen our alternative setting and teaching methods. By making that choice our students have agreed to three simple rules: come to school, do the work, and be safe, respectful and appropriate during the school day. These rules prove effective in helping our students achieve their highest grades and best school performance ever.

    In several important ways, Willard is not like the bigger, comprehensive Missoula high schools. We have created a “user friendly” school. We offer a five period school day in a three-term trimester structure. Instructional time in each class is 55 minutes. There are no bells. Students and staff are on a first-name basis. All staff members are involved in managing the program and student input is encouraged in the day to day management of their school.

    Effort, teamed with a growth mindset, is the key to success. We have high expectations for all students and strictly enforce our rules. Our students are encouraged every day to seek new knowledge, create an individual path, and set, then achieve personal goals. The Willard Alternative High School Program is a place where students are expected to listen, read, think critically, articulate thoughts orally, and express ideas clearly and persuasively in writing.

    In addition to honing these critical literacy skills, students at Willard daily expand their knowledge base and develop new skills. This increased capacity, along with a thoughtfully conceived personal plan for after high school, fully prepares all students for life as they venture with a high school diploma in hand into further education, the workforce, and active citizenship.

    Our Cores Values 

    • Life-long Learning: Be curious, Put forth effort, Make Forward progress, Take responsibility, Never stop learning
    • Citizenship for a Global Community: Build positive relationships, Be kind, caring, honest and courageous, Collaborate with others, Celebrate diversity, Be respectful, Communicate well, Seek sustainability 
    • Challenging the Status Quo: Share leadership, Be willing to follow, Be creative, Use your voice, Stand up for what you believe, Make choices

    Expectations for Student Learning - the 4 Cs 

    Creativity and Innovation reference Willard students’ need to think divergently, make connections, engage in risk‐taking (to support the completion of tasks that have not been clearly delineated), and learn from mistakes in a productive manner.

    Critical Thinking and Problem Solving include the ability to ask questions, examine multiple perspectives and sources, and apply current skill sets in the development of strategies formulated to overcome challenges.

    Communication delineates the need for students to be able to write, speak, and use media effectively and appropriately. Being able to effectively communicate allows students to demonstrate their understanding, respond to particular requests, express ideas, and ask questions.

    Collaboration with others requires several distinct competencies which include: committing oneself to task completion, recognizing group members as sources of knowledge and support for developing new skills, and responding to the challenges and opportunities that result from working with peers who have divergent views and opinions.  The 4 Cs were developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization that advocates for 21st century readiness  

    Willard has all the elements for student success that have been identified as critical by The Alliance for Excellent Education:

    • Challenging Classes
    • Extra Help for Those Who Need It
    • Personal Attention for All Students
    • Bringing the Real World to the Classroom
    • User Friendly Information
    • Skilled Staff with Strong Teacher Leaders
    • Family and Community Involvement
    • Necessary Resources 
    Author Cathy Davidson defines learning as being a constant disruption of an old pattern, a breakthrough that substitutes something new for something old in a cyclical process.

    We agree that learning should be a continuous process that will require each of us, staff and students, to be exposed to new information continuously while we also reflect on what we know and what we need to know.

    Missoula County Public Schools 21st Century Student Outcomes: Dimensions of a Student 

    Lifelong Learning Skills are delineated as the ability to ask questions, think creatively and critically, and communicate effectively in an effort to develop new solutions, while working both collaboratively and independently. In order to be successful in demonstrating lifelong learning skills, students are called upon to continually take initiative and to pursue a course of frequent self-assessment and improvement.

    Conceptual Knowledge refers to the basic content knowledge and processes that provide students with a foundation to engage with other content areas, make connections between disparate subjects, and respond to new situations with the appropriate mix of inquiry, creativity, and knowledge. Technology, inquiry, and projects should facilitate the development of this knowledge base.

    Community and Citizenship outline experiences that facilitate the development of a participatory population, including community service learning projects, research and discussion related to issues that are multifaceted in nature, and opportunities to both give and receive constructive feedback. Also outlined are the characteristics that constitute an active citizenry, including understanding of global issues, recognizing diverse values, and identifying the ethical issues inherent in decision making. 

    Career Development conveys the skills that are required in the world of work and those experiences enable students to both develop and showcase these competencies. These experiences include internships, professionally‐mentored projects, and assessments.

    Vision for 21st Century Teaching and Learning

    We communicate; we collaborate; we think critically; and we create. We are Missoula County Public Schools — educational leaders in a global society — fostering uncompromising excellence and empowering all learners.