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Serving Gifted, Talented, and Highly Capable Students

Welcome to Pioneer School

About Our School

Pioneer School is a non-profit educational organization, founded in 1980 by Betty Burley-Wolf. We serve students in grades PreK-5. 


Pioneer is accredited by the Washington Board of Education and all of our exceptional teachers hold up to date teaching credentials and certifications. 


We are a non-sectarian school with a maximum class size of 16 students per class. 


Pioneer School is committed to serving highly capable students whose primary need is academic stimulation. Pioneer expects to work in partnership with parents who are significantly involved in the education of their children.


Non-Discrimination Policy

Pioneer School admits students of any race, color, sex, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. Pioneer does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national or ethnic origin in administration of educational policies, admission policies, athletic, and other school-administered programs.

Our Philosophy

The educational philosophy at Pioneer School is based on a thematic approach to education. Every year we choose four to six special topics for in-depth study. Each topic serves as a vehicle for teaching subjects such as Math, Science, Reading, Spelling and Social Studies. It is our belief that standard subjects are more meaningful to students, and skills are more readily acquired, when taught in the context of an interesting theme. It is also our belief that immersion in an area of study allows the students to experience success and the satisfaction of accomplishment as they expend time and effort thoroughly exploring a topic.

Pioneer School is dedicated to making school an exciting place where children enjoy learning. Our thematic approach emphasizes student involvement with hands-on activities and topic-related field trips.

Pioneer School students work through challenges in group settings as well as independently. Some of our projects are short-term, while many continue for the duration of a topic.

Our Philosophy

Quality Learning Experiences


We believe music is an important part of every child's education. We hold weekly group music class for all students, recorder lessons for grades 3rd through 5th. We offer violin and piano lessons (at additional cost), as well.

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Academic Enrichment

Our students are well-rounded and activities such as computer science education, Math is Cool Club, and Invent Washington provide students additional learning opportunities to enrich their education.

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Physical Education

Our students participate in many physical activities with the school including roller skating, ice skating, gymnastics, Fit for Bloomsday, and skiing. In fact, we spend six Fridays in winter skiing on the Northwest slopes.

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Our Focus

At Pioneer School, we have high expectations for our students, while providing a fun learning atmosphere where students have the opportunity to excel based on their speed of learning. Students who attend Pioneer participate in: 

  • Quality Projects

  • Authorship - student writing

  • Hands-On Science

  • Flexible Class Structure

  • Often more than 1 year with the same teacher

  • PACE (Partners Advancing Character Education). Pioneer honors students each month who display important character traits


Stepping Stone to Middle, Secondary, & Higher Education

Many parents ask us what does my child do after they leave Pioneer? Our students have a variety of options and they generally tend to move to their next school with some of their classmates. Quite a few of our students test in Odyssey, a public magnet school for highly capable students in District 81. Some of our students choose one of the public charter schools in Spokane or Idaho. Others choose a local private, while others matriculate into their local neighborhood school. Whatever they choose, our students are always well prepared both academically and socially.

Middle & Secondary School


Due to the excelled nature of schooling at Pioneer, many of our students continue their education at other private schools or magnet programs in schools such as West Valley City School, District 81 Odyssey Program, or St. George's School.


Higher Education

After graduating from secondary school, our Pioneer graduates have attended: Whitman, Duke, Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern, Gonzaga, and many other colleges and universities.


Since 1991 the Spokane Scholars Foundation has honored graduating high school students with the highest academic achievements, selecting outstanding students from all area high schools. 


The following Pioneer Alumni have been honored (for 7 of the last 8 years at least one Pioneer alumni has been honored):
2009 David Smentek, Gonzaga Prep; 2009 Colleen Culbertson, St. George's; 2009 Allison Roy-Ting, The Oaks



Many of the students at Pioneer love putting their skills to the test by taking part in various educational competitions. We're so proud of our Pioneer kids for the hard work and practice they put into these.


Their efforts pay off and our students have earned multiple awards over the last several years. Here are a few recent ones.

2 Out of Last 4 Years (Pre-COVID) - 1st Place at Math is Cool State Champions (4th Grade) 

Every year since 2006 (minus during COVID) - 1st Place at Math is Cool Regional Championship

May 2016 - 1st Place at Invent Washington State Competition (Grades 1-4)

May 2016 - Best of Show - Invent Washington State Competition (Grades 1-4)

May 2018 - Invent Washington State Competition 1st place winners

March 2019 - 7 National Invention Convention Finalists

2016 Chess Club - Won 15 out of 16 Tournaments

Letters In Literature - 5th Grade Winner

Let's Get Started

Our 2023-2024 school year at Pioneer School will be divided into the following topics. We rotate topics every 4 years so that some topics will be repeated at different levels of learning.

Trees & Plants

Pacific Northwest



Weather & Water

Board of Directors

Betty Wolf

Rebecca Cristando

Remy Newcombe

Annual Financials

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