History – Gutenberg

Historic shot of two men standing in a field of prairie grass with the Teton Range in the background.

An Inspiring Location

Teton Science Schools (TSS) rests a step above the cottonwoods of Ditch Creek, nestled between Shadow Mountain and Lobo Hill. With its home on the eastern side of Grand Teton National Park, Teton Science Schools enjoys a view that extends from the foot of the Gros Ventre Mountains through the sage flats of Jackson Hole, to the Snake River and beyond to the rising of the majestic Teton Range. The unique history of Teton Science Schools has witnessed a multitude of change unfold in this magnificent landscape.


Those Who Came Before

People have inhabited Jackson Hole intermittently for the last 11,000 years. Many of the early natives subsisted by hunting and gathering, utilizing rich supplies of plants for food and medicines and sources of obsidian for spear and arrow heads. The major presence in the valley when European-Americans arrived were the Wind River Shoshone, who established a number of large base camps along the shores of Jackson Lake. The Shoshone avoided the harsh winters of Jackson Hole and usually inhabited the valley during the summer when food sources were plentiful.

Historic shot of cowboys performing in a rodeo at Elbo Ranch with a crowd of onlookers.

The Elbo Ranch


The Elbo Ranch was a guest ranch located on Cottonwood and Taggart Creeks leased by Katy Starratt from the National Park Service. Katy Starratt was a longtime friend of Joan and Ted Major, the founders of Teton Science Schools, which eventually led to the establishment of TSS at the Elbo.

Collection of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, 2005.0014.031

Historic shot of Ted Major on a summer field trip in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with students doing research behind him.

Experiential Education in the Tetons


Ted Major led a summer field school for 12 students who worked on research projects for six weeks and took field trips into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The program expanded from Jackson Hole High School’s biology classroom to the old Haines place on Moose-Wilson road, surfacing as the school’s next residence.

Historic shot of the Teton Science Schools campus on the Elbo Ranch with the Teton Range in the background.

Teton Science Schools moves to the Elbo Ranch


Ted’s vision to establish a year-round school somewhere in the Grand Teton National Park came to fruition when TSS was granted a special use permit at Elbo Ranch, making the school one of the few cooperative, yet independent, environmental schools in the national park system.

Students and faculty of Journeys School in Jackson, Wyoming posing for a group photo.

Journeys School


Teton Science Schools established Journeys School in 2001, an independent school founded on Mad Dog Ranch on Moose-Wilson Road. The school was constructed by TSS board, staff, and local families in an effort to bring place-based education to a year-round academic setting.

A red building surrounded by green trees on the Teton Valley Campus of Teton Science Schools.

Teton Valley Campus


In 2002, the Teton Valley campus was founded as the independent Teton Valley Community School (TVCS) by a small group of parents and teachers dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities in Teton Valley, Idaho. In 2012, TVCS became a program area of Teton Science Schools.

Students walking and sitting on the Jackson Campus of Teton Science Schools.

Expanding Opportunities


Teton Science Schools integrated both schools, Teton Valley Community School and Journeys School, under the TSS administrative umbrella in 2018 and into one learning community, with the goal of creating expanded opportunities for students and more professional pathways for faculty and staff.

Mountain Academy

The Teton Valley Community School in Idaho and the Journeys School campus in Wyoming united as one school with two campuses in 2019, becoming what is known today as Mountain Academy. The Teton Valley Campus and the Jackson Campus continue to use the community as a classroom to prepare students for college and beyond.


Two Mountain Academy students sitting on a log talking next to a mountain lake.

Further Reading

To learn more about the Elbo Ranch, visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum’s website.