The School

Founded in 1999 as one of the first charter schools in New Mexico, East Mountain High School is currently one of the state’s leading public charter schools. EMHS has received an A from the State of New Mexico and has developed a statewide reputation for educational excellence. Although EMHS celebrates its students’ academic achievement as reflected in its student test results, the school is primarily dedicated to the growth in learning of each student as it prepares that student to succeed in college.

EMHS serves under 400 students in grades nine through twelve. EMHS opened its doors in the fall of 2000 and graduated its first senior class in the spring of 2004. As a school of choice, EMHS is an alternative to the two large traditional high schools in the geographical area. Students are admitted through a lottery process, with an automatic acceptance of siblings of currently attending students.

In order to realize its mission, vision and goals, the school is committed to creating a culture of effective teaching and learning, ensuring each student’s excellence, college preparation, progressive skill development, exposure to a rigorous curriculum, and connection to the community. EMHS seeks to provide its students with an inquiry-based curriculum that is college-preparatory and based on a liberal arts model.

From the beginning, the founders of EMHS had big dreams and high ambitions. They saw no reason to accept the mediocrity and apathy that seemed to invade traditional public schools, and envisioned a school that would truly challenge students to excel to their highest potential. In order to achieve that goal, EMHS was established as a small school with small class sizes, so that each student is recognized as an individual. Teachers design real-world learning experiences for students that engage them in hands-on opportunities while covering a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum. Parents and community members partner with the school and get involved in students’ education. Everyone – students, teachers, parents and community members – is encouraged to put inquiry at the heart of learning and to think independently and creatively.

The Community

EMHS is located in Sandia Park approximately 30 minutes east of Albuquerque in a rural, mountainous community. The school, on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, is situated on a 26-acre campus and is home to breathtaking views of the Sandia Mountains. Students travel from a large geographic region that includes the Village of Tijeras, Escobosa, Chilili, Cedar Crest, Sandia Park, Edgewood, Moriarty, Estancia and Stanley. The school is approximately two-thirds Anglo and one-third students of color.

The Academic Program

The curriculum is designed to help each student master a pool of knowledge and competencies embracing the humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, arts and foreign language while learning to think critically and articulate thoughts clearly through Socratic Seminars and inquiry and discovery based learning.

Accreditation and Membership

EMHS is accredited by the New Mexico Public Education Department. It is a member of the New Mexico Activities Association, New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools, National Association for College Admission Counseling and Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling.


EMHS was recognized as a Bronze Star School by U.S. News & World Report for the last two years, one of only 17 schools in New Mexico. U.S. News & World Report recognizes schools at which student academic achievement outpaces predictive models. East Mountain was also recognized by Newsweek as one of America’s Top High Schools and by Niche as the top ranked public high school in the state of New Mexico.


Over half of the East Mountain High School faculty hold Master’s Degrees. EMHS teachers have received some of the highest honors in the profession, including National Board Certification, the American Stars of Teaching Award, the Presidential Award for Environmental Education and the 2010 New Mexico Debate Coach of the Year.


EMHS is on a 4 x 4 block schedule, in which students enroll in a maximum of four classes each term for a total of eight classes each year. Each class meets for 90 minutes each day, allowing students to focus on a limited number of subjects on any given day which supports the EMHS philosophy of in-depth study and mastery learning. On a 4 x 4 schedule, students earn 1.0 credit for each course in the fall and 1.0 credit for each course in the spring.

Grading System

EMHS supports the policy of mastery learning, therefore, students must earn a grade of 70% or higher in a class in order to receive credit. EMHS uses percentages to report final grades. However, the standard grading scale is followed: 90% – 100% = A (4 GPA points); 80% – 89% = B (3 GPA points); 70% – 79% = C (2 GPA points). No credit and no GPA points are awarded for final grades of 69% or below. Students on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) may receive a passing grade with 60% or higher.