Indian Valley Academy welcomes two new teachers

Indian Valley Academy welcomes two new teachers
Posted on 08/29/2018
Tirrell Baum and Jennifer Van Acker join the ranks of Indian Valley Academy teachers this year. Photo by Ingrid BurkePlumas Charter School’s Indian Valley Academy welcomes two new teachers this fall: Tirrell Baum, who teaches mathematics, science, and technology, and Jennifer Van Acker, who teaches core subjects to elementary students. Van Acker also provides STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) instruction. Despite their different paths leading to Plumas County, Baum and Van Acker both said they feel a strong connection to the community and their students.

Tirrell Baum
Baum comes from several generations of Indian Valley residents. Both of her parents are from Greenville, and she was raised in Plumas County, graduating from Greenville High School along with her husband, Richard.

After some time away from the area, during which she raised five children as a stay-at-home mom, Baum said she decided to go back to school. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics at the University of Nevada, Reno and is currently working toward her Master of Education, also through UNR.

“My husband and I are very excited to be returning home after being away so long,” said Baum.

In teaching mathematics, Baum said her own passion for the subject, along with “years of common-sense experience raising children” helps her connect with students.  

“Indian Valley Academy affords me the opportunity to teach local high school students math that will not only prepare them for college, but, more importantly, teach them critical thinking skills and help them recognize the inherent beauty in mathematics,” said Baum.

“The charter school environment gives me the flexibility to meet each student's individual needs. In my mind there is no better place to live than Plumas County and no better place to work than Indian Valley Academy teaching math.”

Jennifer Van Acker
Even though she was born and raised in Southern California, Van Acker says that Indian Valley will always be her home.

“I stumbled upon this little postcard of a town in 2001 and fell in love with its beauty and its charm. I feel I have found ‘my people.’ My favorite aspect of living here (besides its sheer beauty) is the family-friendly atmosphere you get just about everywhere you go!”

Van Acker holds a multiple subject clear teaching credential, and she brings a wide range of educational experience to IVA. She has worked as an instructional aide, behavioral attendant, substitute teacher, after-school program coordinator, and teacher for multiple grades.

Van Acker is an education specialist at IVA’s Greenville site. She teaches math, language arts, and social studies to fifth- and sixth-graders, along with STEAM subjects to third- through sixth-graders.

“Being able to teach students how to cope with their social-emotional issues is where my passion for teaching began,” said Van Acker. “When a student identifies our classroom as a ‘safe’ place and they feel they can make mistakes without being ridiculed and shamed for it continuously, that’s when I know I have found my niche.”

Regarding Plumas Charter School specifically, Van Acker said she has always wanted to work in an environment where parents, teachers, and staff all encourage the development of “compassionate, resilient, lifelong learners.”

“It is important that students see their education as valuable,” she said. “After all, our values inform our thoughts, words, and actions. Our values are important because they help us to grow and develop.”

About PCS
Operating under the California nonprofit corporation Plumas Alternative Learning Services, Plumas Charter School is a public school that provides personalized learning for transitional kindergarten through 12th grade. Learning centers in Quincy, Indian Valley, and Chester offer a variety of program options including independent study, on-site classes, and enrichment activities. For more information, call 530-283-3851, or visit

By Ingrid Burke, I. Burke Writing & Editing
[email protected]

In the photo: Teachers Tirrell Baum (left) and Jennifer Van Acker join Plumas Charter School’s Indian Valley Academy as teachers this year. Photo by Ingrid Burke