Eastern Sierra Academy of Bridgeport, CA


This was the official website for the Eastern Sierra Academy of Bridgeport , CA. As of 2014 the school is closed due to budgetary issues. The content below is from the site's 2006 archived pages as well as other outside resources.


Bridgeport School #1 in California

Eastern Sierra Academy ranked 19th nationally in Newsweek/Washington Post Challenge Index 

When it comes to academic rigor, Eastern Sierra Academy of Bridgeport is number one in California and number nineteen in the United States according to a new survey issued by Newsweek.  The Challenge Index ranks schools according to the number of Advanced Placement exams the schools administered divided by the number of graduating seniors.  At Eastern Sierra Academy all seniors take at least three AP courses, and all juniors take at least one AP course.  Advanced Placement (AP) classes are an opportunity for students to experience college level curriculum in high school.  The courses are far more comprehensive and demanding than most high school classes.  This level of commitment in high school has shown to drastically improve students’ ability to perform well in college.  Over the past five years, 94% of Eastern Sierra Academy’s graduates have gone on to college and no college dropouts have been reported.

At the end of the school year, students in AP classes take AP exams in the subjects they studied.  If they receive a passing score, they earn college credit for their course.  In 2004, ESA students took 17 AP exams in English, Statistics, Microeconomics, US Government, and US History.  Seventeen exams may not seem like a high number, except that Eastern Sierra Academy only had 4 graduating seniors in 2004.  On the Challenge Index, this ratio of tests to graduates comes to 4.250; high enough to rank 19th in the nation out of over 27,000 public high schools.  In the 2002 Newsweek rankings, Eastern Sierra Academy ranked 7th in the nation.  For the 2004-2005 school year, Eastern Sierra Academy will administer 22 AP exams in seven subjects.  The tests will be taken by the school’s five juniors and four seniors.

The Challenge Index is the brainchild of Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews.  In his article for Newsweek, Matthews explains his use of AP and IB (International Baccalaureate) exams, “The index uses AP and IB as a measure because schools that push these tests are most likely to stretch young minds—which should be the fundamental purpose of education.”  Over 2 million AP exams were administered last year in 14,000 high schools. According to the Newsweek article, the Dean of Admissions at Harvard University says “ AP is already a better predictor of college grades than the SAT.”  Recent studies have shown that students of all socio-economic levels have a far greater chance of finishing college if they had taken even one AP course in high school.

Established in 1997, Eastern Sierra Academy, a California Distinguished School, has an enrollment of 23 students and focuses on preparing students for college through demanding courses and advanced technology.  The school is located in the town of Bridgeport - a remote part of the Eastern Sierra.  The small building that houses the school boasts a new computer on every student’s desk with a wide array of software and hardware provided by grants and donations.  ESA has three full-time teachers who deliver challenging content in all subject areas.  The principal, Roger Yost, acts as the math and science teacher for the school, while motivating rural students to compete in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world.  He has been able to achieve this in large part through the pervasive use of technology and by pursuing a rigorous academic curriculum.  The social studies teacher, James Godoy, offers AP courses in US History, US Government, and Microeconomics.  ESA’s English teachers, Sarah Taylor and Pamela Bradley, offer AP English Literature and Composition and English Language and Composition. Students also take advantage of AP courses offered online or via distance learning. 

Newsweek's 2006 The Complete List of the 1,000 Top U.S. Schools

Public schools are ranked according to a ratio devised by Jay Mathews: the number of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in 2004 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

1 |  Jefferson County* |  Irondale |  Ala. |  10.755 |  2
2 |  International Academy*|Bloomfield Hills|Mich.|8.422 |0
3 |  Stanton College Prep* | Jacksonville |  Fla. |  7.385 |  7.8
4 |  Eastside*  |  Gainesville |  Fla. |  6.682 |  39
5 |  H-B Woodlawn |  Arlington |  Va. |  5.747 |  14
6 |  Science/Engineering Magnet |Dallas|Texas|5.545|37.8
7 |  Paxon*  |  Jacksonville |  Fla. |  5.373 |  13
8 |  Pensacola* |  Pensacola |  Fla. |  5.362 |  63
9 |  Raleigh Charter |  Raleigh |  N.C. |  5.089 |  0
10 |  Hillsborough* |  Tampa |  Fla. |  5.085 |  50
11 |  Richard Montgomery* | Rockville | Md. |  5.029 | 13
12 |  Highland Park |  Dallas |  Texas |  4.588 |  0
13 |  Coral Reef*   |  Miami |  Fla. |  4.528 |  27.5
14 |  Jericho |  Jericho |  N.Y. |  4.347 |  1.6
15 |  McNair Academic |  Jersey City |  N.J. |  4.342 |  40
16 |  Cold Spring Harbor |Cold Spring Harbor | N.Y. | 4.317 |1
17 |  Wootton |  Rockville |  Md. |  4.307 |  2
18 |  Atlantic Community* |  Delray Beach |  Fla. |  4.291 |  23
19 |  Eastern Sierra Academy| Bridgeport |Calif. | 4.250 | 18

My kids went to the Eastern Sierra Academy when we live on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. It was quite a culture shock when we move to the east coast where I had been offered a job at a one of the larger cleaning service companies. They had janitorial jobs hiring local workers in Pennsylvania. The job offer was the perfect fit at the time since I wanted to be nearer to my aging parents who lived just outside of Philadelphia. D&D CleanIt is a professional janitorial cleaning company that was founded on the belief that clean matters whether you are a small business or a major corporation. The company service businesses throughout the Philadelphia tri-state area which means I am on the go drumming up new business. It's been a challenge, but satisfying. However, I can see the influence that Eastern Sierra Academy had on my older children. As they start the search for colleges, both of them are looking at schools in Colorado where there are mountains, lots of snow, and big open spaces. We were all sad to learn about the closing of the academy. The teachers and administration as well as the parents were all dedicated in pursuing the best school experience for their kids.

Chapter 1 from the Eastern Sierra Academy WASC Self Study Report


Chapter I

Student/Community Profile: Data and Findings

Part I: Student/Community Profile

Eastern Sierra Unified School District is a small, rural school district located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The district is small in number of students, but physically it is twice the size of Rhode Island. Geographically, it is the largest district in the state stretching north from the Nevada State border and south to Benton and Bishop. It is comprised of nine schools: an elementary and a high school in each of four different communities and a continuation school in Coleville.

Eastern Sierra Academy
Eastern Sierra Academy (ESA) is an extremely small, technology-based, college-preparatory high school. Students at Eastern Sierra Academy participate in a rigorous, relevant, and coherent curriculum that prepares them for post-secondary education.
Eastern Sierra Academy believes in a team approach to education. Parents, students, and school staff all have responsibilities and are accountable to one another in order to have maximum success for each student. If any part of the team does not live up to his or her part, then the student will not be as successful. Parents, students and staff agree to certain precepts that create an appropriate atmosphere for student success. Those precepts and goals are then put into the form of a contract which all parties sign. This contract is drawn up before the school year starts and is revisited and revised as needed.
Students are required to master each subject with a “B” or better in order to receive credit for course work. If students cannot maintain this average, they are asked to transfer to another high school in the district. Struggling students are given many opportunities for assistance, so students willing to put in the necessary time are able to find success at our school. We do not lose many students because of the level of support provided and because of the dedication of all involved.

Those who don’t put in the time struggle here and will likely struggle in college.
The effectiveness of our philosophy is evidenced in our high API scores and our high average SAT scores. Our API has never been below 800 with a high of 890 and our average SAT score is 578 verbal and 571 math. These arc averages with the old SAT. We have received just a few scores on the new SAT. We believe the most significant sign of success comes from the fact that in the past 5 years 94% of our seniors have gone on to college with 80% going to 4-year universities. All have been successful and all but two are still attending their original colleges of choice. Some have graduated or are graduating and will be entering grad school.

because of the high percentage of our students in AP classes, this past year Newsweek ranked the top academic high schools in the U.S. and chose ESA as the 19th school in the nation and the # 1 school west of the Rockies. ESA was also recognized as a California Distinguished School this past year. Both awards are appreciated, but they mean very little if our graduates are not successful in college.

With a student body of only 22 and a mere three teachers , ESA has sought other avenues to provide experts in each curricular field: internet distance learning classes and AP courses. AP courses taught through the internet include AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Statistics. Our three staff members teach all core curriculum including AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Government, AP US History and AP Economics. Students entering their junior year take AP courses in history and English. Occasionally students do not have the language ability to pass an AP level English class; when this occurs, these students get a modified curriculum and take a college preparatory class rather than AP. Curriculum is enhanced through individualized instruction and technology when possible.
Elective curriculum and community service arc designed to meet individual student needs and fit their goals. Students take all-day classes in drama, art, outdoor P.E., or film making during a three week spring interim.

EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology)
Three years ago our small school received a $250,000 EAST
grant that allows our students to use state of the art software and hardware to collaborate with local agencies, businesses, non-profits, universities, and ranchers to solve real world
’ One full-time position is job shared between two teachers: one teacher responsible for the English classes and the other for Senior Thesis, Drama, Physical Education, and EAST (a technology course). Additionally, we have a part- time teacher who teaches one math class so that our principal (who is also a full time teacher) has time to attend to administrative duties. So we do actually have 5 teachers, but only three teaching positions.

Data and Findings issues. The students have given presentations to professional organizations, received awards for their projects, and have presented workshops at conferences.

Students at the Academy also take trips to enhance their curriculum, provide cultural exposure, and visit colleges. Each year, one major weeklong trip is planned to an urban area in California. On each trip students visit four to five colleges, see plays, and visit historical landmarks. We try
to provide them with educational experiences that aren’t available in Bridgeport, such as learning about marine biology or visiting museums. In June of 2004, the entire school took a 13 day trip to the east coast and had an invaluable educational experience in Washington DC, New York, and Boston. This years trip was to the San Diego area where we visited five four-year universities and one two-year college. We will also perform marine biology labs in the San Diego harbor, watch Moliere’s play The Miser on a college
campus, visit the Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo, and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. There are four trips that students participate in during their four years at the Academy: San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Catalina Island with colleges in southern California.

SPTSO (Parent-Teacher-Student Organization)
We have an active PTSO with 100% of parents involved to varying degrees. All parents attend at least one meeting a year. About 70% of parents attend regularly. The PTSO raises about $7000 a year and uses the money to help fund the annual college trip, the University of Nevada at Reno Library trip for Senior Thesis, graduation, and many other activities. The PTSO has also been greatly involved in our WASC Self Study this year. Our principal reports to the PTSO each month and gathers input and feedback from parents who are not on our leadership team.

School Facilities and Environment
Eastern Sierra Academy strives to provide a clean, safe, academic environment. The facility exists as two doublewide, pre-manufactured school buildings joined together. There are two rooms, one for juniors and seniors and the other for freshmen and sophomores. Two other small rooms function as distance-learning breakout rooms. This facility is almost nine years old. The school sits behind the district office on the elementary school’s grass field. We have ordered an additional pre-manufactured building and are currently refining architectural and landscaping plans to integrate it into the campus. This new building (that will be delivered and installed this summer) will not only house a science lab and P.E. equipment, but will be used daily for several classes, allowing us to avoid doubled classes in the ffeshman/sophomore room.
Academy students have a quality academic environment in which to work. Students have their own computers on their desks with Internet access. They use this technology in a variety of ways, including word-processing, multimedia project design, communication, and research.
The high expectations and rigorous academic standards that we have help our students in several ways. With high expectations comes a lack of discipline problems (in addition to higher achievement). The high achievement and few discipline problems are also due to the small