One of Buckeye’s newest charter schools added a pre-K program for the 2022 school year. Imagine Buckeye, a free public charter school, opened in August at 2400 S. 247th Avenue.
“We focus on character development with academics,” principal Shane Boettcher said. “Social-emotional learning has always been a priority for us. We see a very strong connection between the character of students and their academic growth.
After opening its doors to students six months ago, Imagine Buckeye received its license in December to add a pre-K curriculum.
“We are officially a week and three days into our preschool,” Boettcher said. “We just opened it after we got back and we’re in the process of hiring another person for it. We are starting to enroll more. Currently we have 11 children registered and quite a long waiting list for that too.
Imagine Schools serves more than 32,000 K-12 students on 56 campuses in eight states and the District of Columbia.
Boettcher previously served as principal of the Imagine Avondale campus for three years and moved to Buckeye two years ago with his family. It moved to the Buckeye campus once it opened in 2021.
“It’s my community now. My son goes here—he’s in kindergarten—and I have three other kids going here, and we just have a lot to offer this community. And we celebrate being tight-knit, family-oriented, and working with families to provide education for children and trying to meet the child in all areas,” Boettcher said.
“I sincerely believe, based on what we’ve done at Avondale, that we’ve put in place programs that engage kids and make them want to learn. We provide an environment where they feel safe and supported. We want to involve parents so we can do it together. Being able to grow our community is something we are really passionate about.
Although there are many charter schools throughout the state, Boettcher said Imagine Buckeye’s values and how teachers implement them in their classrooms sets the school apart from others.
“Our values are justice, integrity and fun,” he said. “That basically means including children in their education, giving them the opportunity to have a say in their assessment. We do a lot of collaborative work in small groups with our teachers. We want teachers to attract small groups of children, work with them independently to ensure that we meet all of these needs and that they are as fluent as possible in the standards.
The K-8 program has 176 students. With the goal of small class sizes, Boettcher said the maximum number of students per class will be 25.
Boettcher said he looks forward to expanding the school’s extracurricular activities and additional academic programs, including robotics, sports and dance.
“One of our biggest goals is to start offering after-school programs,” he said. “There are grant opportunities with the State which we have already taken part in. We contract out people from the community so they can come to our school and the kids can experience some of these things on campus here that they might not have the opportunity to do later. We are always looking for ways to provide opportunities for our children and truly enrich their school experience.
As Buckeye grows, Boettcher said he is thrilled to see the charter school’s enrollment, programs and community grow with her.
“It’s just a very inclusive and supportive community where we encourage parents to join us and kids to have a say in what they do in their classrooms,” he said.
“I invite anyone to come here and experience love, support and communication. Our teachers are so good at reaching out to families and including them in what happens in the classroom and sharing the celebrations in the classroom.They are so eager to learn and support the children and to continue to grow in their profession so that they can provide the best possible education to the students.
Imagine Buckeye is a free public charter school. The Pre-K program is tuition-based. For more information, visit imaginebuckeye.org.