Principal Keather Meachum

Principal Keather Meachum and teachers get ready to welcome students to Buckeye’s new school.

When Edkey/Sequoia Schools spent $2.9 million on land in Buckeye earlier this year, its plan of opening a school in the fall may have struck some as overly ambitious.

Not so: The company scores and “A” in planning, as Sequoia Pathfinder Academy opened this week.

The first day of school was Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy. The new school is near Verrado Way and Interstate 10, at 20370 W. Roosevelt Street, Buckeye.

“You can see ‘Sequoia Pathfinder’ in big letters from the I-10,” said Keather Meachum, the school’s principal.

The new school makes for a perfect commute for the principal, who has lived “right here in the heart of Buckeye” for three years, since marrying Christopher Meachum.

 According to a press release, “Sequoia Pathfinder, a free K-8 STEAM public charter school, joins Edkey’s 15 other schools in providing education choices for parents searching for the best academic, emotional and social growth opportunities for their children.”

The new school has 20 classrooms and labs spread over 35,000 square feet.

“Pathfinder will give West Valley parents a superb STEAM option for their children’s education and success,” said Edkey CEO Mark Plitzuweit, a West Valley resident himself.

The school also has a multi-purpose room with a performing arts stage and cafeteria.

It’s spacious enough for plenty of social distancing, said Meachum.

“All of the Edkey schools have been in distance learning, but plans are in place for all of our 19 schools to  open this Tuesday (Sept. 8) or the following Monday. We do have COVID-19 procedures in place: one-way walkway, masks required, social distancing in the classrooms, all desks face forward,” she said.

Meachum has been an educator for 22 years, spending the 11 years as principal of Freedom Christian Academy, a private school in Queen Creek.

While teachers have been in the new building for the last two weeks, they were teaching remotely until students were welcomed into the new classrooms this week.

 “I am thrilled for the opportunity the opening of the new school provides our students and staff, even with the many precautions that are in place to create a safe environment,” Meachum said.

“In-person learning with our wonderful teachers on this beautiful campus will be a true benefit for each child.”

She said the new public charter school has 280 enrolled students, with an average classroom size of 25. “When we get up to 30, we split classes,” she said. “Most of my classes are 16 or 17.”

And her company is far from done with Buckeye.

“Edkey is in the process of starting a high school here, they are looking at property in our area—hopefully on the same property,” she said.

According to its website (sequoiaschools.org), “Here at Sequoia Charter Schools, we believe in providing every single student with the tools and individual treatment they need to develop. We focus our schools and your child’s educational experience based on the specific interests and needs of our students. As part of our goal of providing a holistic education, we provide a broad range of services that are based on allowing your child to continue to grow in their academic pursuits.”