Our History

Established in 2002 as the state’s first virtual high school, Richard McKenna Charter Schools’ online success inspired their focus on non-traditional—yet proven—educational strategies for each on-site classroom. 

In the spirit of Richard McKenna, sailor and author born and raised in Mountain Home, Idaho, we encourage all our students to dream big and work hard; for they can create a rich life regardless of their current economic status and/or geographic limitations.

About Richard McKenna

Best known for his historical novel, The Sand Pebbles, Richard McKenna grew up in Mountain Home during the Great Depression. During his formative years, young McKenna used his imagination to develop stories and poems that later helped him escape the economic recession of the 1930s. 

“My early book learning came to me as naturally as the seasons in the little town in which I grew up. Quite early I began to find a special charm in an unpeopled world… of lava rock and sagebrush desert. I was often more purely happy at such times than I think I have ever been since.” – Richard McKenna, 1972 

Seeking more opportunities than could be found in rural Idaho, McKenna joined the U.S. Navy in 1931. He was 18 years old. McKenna served in the Navy for 22 years, including 10 years of active sea duty during both World War II and the Korean War. He retired shortly thereafter as a chief machinist's mate. 

Shortly after his retirement, McKenna returned to writing. Most historians believe his most successful novel, The Sand Pebbles, which tells the story of an American sailor serving aboard a gunboat on the Chinese Yangtze River in 1926, originated from McKenna’s own experience in the U.S. Navy. In 1966, McKenna was awarded the Nebula Award for best short story and was nominated for the Hugo Award a year later (also for best short story). But it is not the accolades or awards that leave a lasting impression on our students. It’s not even his writing that inspires the next generation of Mountain Home students. It is the fact that Richard McKenna “made something out of nothing” during one of the most difficult economic times in our nation. 

That’s why our students use Richard McKenna as a model of character of our Workplace Behaviors