We welcome your interest in Sky Islands for your education, however all charter schools are not alike. Please weigh your decision carefully—we do not offer credit-recovery programs, and our curriculum is not fast-paced or strictly individualized.  Students who enroll at Sky Islands join an academic community and are expected to take part in that community respectfully and responsibly.

All students take teacher-taught core courses in math, science, social studies and language arts, as well as classes in applied permaculture and gardening, drama and visual arts, classical guitar, and other electives.  Our classes are aligned with Common Core and AZ State standards, are integrated across the program, and feature environmental and community-based projects.

The Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday school day is from 9am to 3:00 pm, with 45 minutes for lunch.  Classes are scheduled in blocks of 1.5 hours each twice a week–repeating Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday, 3 classes per day, totaling 6 classes per week. Wednesday is the exception–the school day is from 9am to early release at 12:30, and will rotate each week between an extra day of Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday classes.

Sky Islands High School actively and intellectually challenges students in a sequentially-designed course of study. The educational program is intentionally planned, taught by highly qualified faculty, and led by administrators dedicated to student success. Our goal is to help students realize their capacities and ambitions, ask new questions and discover new interests, transition to adult lives, and take their place in the world responsibly.

2017-18    Academic Sequence

Pre-requisites for advanced level classes

Classes in Culinary Arts, Animal Science, and Environmental Chemistry Lab are only open to 11th and 12th graders and have the following academic pre-requisites:

  • Students must carry a 2.0 Grade Point Average/ GPA or better
  • Students must have a 2.0 grade or better in both 9th and 10th grade LA classes
  • For Culinary Arts and Animal Science—students must have taken and passed with a 2.0 or better Urban Horticulture (9) and Plant Bio (10) or Earth Science (10)
  • For Environmental Chemistry Lab—students must have taken and passed with a 2.0 or better Field Studies (9) and Plant Bio (10)
Levels of Academic Engagement                                                    

9thskills/ habits/ principles: Ninth grade students are ready for academic content, yet sometimes see the world in only black-and-white. As they navigate a new high school experience, our program challenges freshmen to observe, question, and imagine alternatives. Coursework reflects the early steps of analysis and more abstract thinking.

  • LA 9/ Strategic Reading + Writing
  • Algebra 1
  • 2 Dimensional Design
  • Urban Horticulture
  • Field Studies
  • Arid Lands’ Design/Build

10thindividual knowledge: Tenth grade students are able to look more deeply at the complex world around them. They seek to understand process, growth, and transformation as they experience it in themselves and the larger world.   This level further develops basic skills but challenges students to work towards greater levels of abstract and critical thinking.

  • LA10/ Content Literacy
  • A1gebra 1 / or Geometry
  • Earth Science
  • Plant Biology
  • US/AZ History
  • Graphic Arts
  • UA Lead Guitar (10-12)
  • Theater Arts (10-12)

11thsocial knowledge:   Eleventh grade students have a growing capacity for self-reflection and begin to examine questions of individuality and community belonging. Students at this level have the opportunity to consider their own paths within the larger whole and the application of learned skills.

  • LA11/ Literature and Urban Worlds
  • Regional Ecosystems
  • Algebra 2
  • World History/ Geography (11-12)
  • Social Issues (11-12)
  • Environmental Chemistry Lab (11-12)
  • Culinary (11-12)
  • Animal Studies (11-12)
  • Guitar (10—12)
  • Photography/ Creative Art  (10-12)
  • Theater Arts (10-12)

12th—public knowledge:  Twelfth grade students are able to integrate knowledge and experience and begin to see their place in the world.  Coursework helps seniors explore critical questions and prepares them to participate globally.

  •  LA12/ Rhetoric and Nature
  • Astro-Biology
  • Physics
  • Government/ Economics (11-12)
  • Social Issues (11-12)
  • Environmental Chemistry Lab (11-12)
  • Culinary (11-12)
  • Animal Studies (11-12)
  • Guitar (10—12)
  • Photography/ Creative Art (10-12)
  • Theater Arts (10-12)
Blue Sky—Urban Farm and Café

The Agroecology program at Sky Islands high school focuses on the sustainable cultivation of edible and ornamental desert-adapted plants, while the Culinary program focuses on the diverse food cultures from the Southwest and around the world.  These programs collaborate throughout the year, and the school’s lunch program—Blue Sky Café—is designed as part of their integrated curriculum.

Classes that are aligned to the combined agroecology/ culinary program include:

  • Urban Horticulture/ 9th
  • Field Studies/ 9th
  • Earth Science/ 10th
  • Plant Biology/ 10th
  • Environmental Chem Lab/ 11-12th
  • Animal Studies/ 11-12th
  • Culinary/ 11-12th

Animal Studies is a new upper level, applied course at Sky Islands in 2017-18. It provides an interdisciplinary study of the relations between human and non-human animals, their ethical implications and their ecological effects.  Students will raise chickens, design and build a chicken habitat that includes a coop and free range areas, and take responsibility for the health and safety of the flock.

Design/Build is a new introductory level, skills-based course at Sky Islands in 2017-18.  Students will learn the fundamentals of architectural drawing using artistic, technical or conceptual expressions. They will learn to make hand drawn images, higher skilled detailed axonometrics, and use Sketchup. Students will also take active part in building from sustainable designs that use repurposed, locally sourced materials.

Regional Ecosystems is a class designed to study a distinct vegetation and wildlife community that occurs in association with a particular combination of geology, soil and landform in a specific bioregion. This study of botanic and biologic ecosystems includes the history and nature of science; and an in-depth look at our regional ecosystem, including the geology, ecology, history and culture of the Sonoran Desert region from Tucson to the Sea of Cortez.

Environmental Chemistry Lab is a new upper level, applied class at Sky Islands in 2017-18. Environmental chemistry is the interdisciplinary science that includes air, water, and soil chemistry. Students will study the local and/ or global scale of chemical processes occurring in the environment that are impacted by human activities.

Dr Shari Popen, Founder and Director

Courses