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'Green' charter school coming

A new charter school with a focus on "green" is coming to Woodbury.

The Woodbury Planning Commission reviewed a site plan application Monday for the Michael Frome Academy, which plans to open this fall as a kindergarten through 5th grade elementary school. It's no coincidence the school is planned to be constructed at Woodbury Crossing and Oak Trail, which is adjacent to the Math and Science Academy.

"It makes sense that we're next to (MSA) because we feel many or our students will probably transition into another charter school after 5th grade," said Laurel Tangen-Foster, the start-up coordinator for Michael Frome Academy, named after an esteemed environmental scientist from western Wisconsin. "We were looking for a location in or near the St. Croix River Valley, and, especially with Woodbury's commitment to environmental issues, this seemed like a good fit."

Upon city approval of its environmentally-sustainable site plan, the school plans to open this fall, which comes just less than a year after the state Department of Education approved plans and funding for Michael Frome Academy and 10 other new charter schools in the state.

Tangen-Foster said the vision for a school that places an emphasis on environmental science and stewardship has been two years in the making.

"We have a committed group of people who have been involved in education and saw this an opportunity to foster an environment for this type of learning," Tangen Foster said. "We think there is an urgency out there for these types of school and what they have to offer our youth."

The school already has a board of education professionals in place to administer over the school, which has hired on faculty with educational backgrounds in science, mathematics and music.

The school will feature a 12-1 student-to-teacher ratio, and will draw heavily upon the local natural environment for its studies.

"We've got Afton State Park and Belwin not far, and the city hall in Woodbury will also be a great place for our kids to learn, because of its sustainability features," Tangen-Foster said.

Michael Frome Academy may be one of the only charter schools in the state with a focus on environmental science and sustainability, but it's not alone on the national scene. The school is a member of the Green Charter School Network, which Tangen-Foster said provides a stable model for success.

"We believe we're not getting our kids outside enough," she said. "There's so much to learn out their and we think kids are suffering from 'Nature Deficit Disorder.' We're exited to open up in a city where those opportunities to learn about the environment are all around us."

The Michael Frome Academy is currently taking applications for parents who are interested in enrolling their children. For more information go to:

Who is Michael Frome?

According to the Belwin website, Dr. Michael Frome is an author, educator and environmentalist who served as newspaper reporter and columnist for publications like Field & Stream, Los Angeles Times and Defenders of Wildlife Magazine. He has written books such as "Regreening the National Parks" and "Conscience of a Conservationist." The Michael Frome Academy is named in honor of his contributions to environmental stewardship.