Gem Innovation Schools (GIS) is a rapidly growing charter management organization designed to meet the state of Idaho’s pressing need for more high quality educational options which prepare students for post-secondary success. Founded in 2004, Gem Innovation Schools began as a high-performing, distance learning model and has a demonstrated record of student achievement and financial sustainability.
Currently, Gem Innovation Schools has approximately 750 K-12 students throughout the state of Idaho. Over the next five years, Gem Innovation Schools will more than triple the number of students served to meet a growing population and demand from families interested in innovative education options, by expanding our two campuses in Pocatello and Nampa, and the creation of a new Meridian campus in 2018. Additionally, Gem Innovation Schools will continue to expand enrollment at the existing schools, serving approximately 2,500 students by 2023.



Chief Executive Officer

In 2007, Jason left what had been a highly successful career as a teacher and mentor of teachers in Southern Texas to become an on-line teacher for the Idaho Distance Education Academy. Two years later, he assumed leadership of that organization. During the next four years, Jason and his team reversed a $700,000 deficit, streamlined operations in every school department, created a robust Title 1 program and increased student achievement in every sub-population. He guided I-DEA to a five-star rating, in recognition of the fact that the school had the highest SAT scores in the state. For all these achievements, plus the creation of a college credit program for I-DEA students, Jason was awarded the 2013 Idaho Education Network Innovator of the Year Award.

Jason has served as Vice-President of the Idaho Charter School Network, has advised numerous legislative committees, and recently secured a $4.5 million grant to create the first Charter Management Organization in Idaho.

Jason earned a B.S. degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho, an M.S. degree from the University of Houston, and an Ed.S. from Idaho State University.

Chief Operating Officer

As COO, Josh is responsible for facilities, transportation, school operations, nutrition programs, and all organization and schools’ technology.  Josh received his B.S. in Business Information Systems from the University of Idaho in 2003.    Upon joining the I-DEA team, Josh developed their service oriented technology department—from conception to the service of over 650 students and families state-wide, as well as five separate regional and support offices and located staff. In 2006 he accepted the position of Network Administrator and subsequently became the Director of Technology a year later in 2007, where he managed and spring-boarded the transition to the utilization of high quality adaptable online educational programs. He also implemented a learning management system to bring courses online, created a school wide video conferencing system, and started an online electronic library using Overdrive to provide literary access to students in outlying areas.

Chief Financial Officer

As part of the Gem Innovation Schools’ CMO team, Barb brings more than 25 years of demonstrated financial and operational management to the organization. As CFO, Barb is responsible for controllership and treasury duties, as well as economic forecasting, budgeting and the financial well-being of the organization. Prior to GIS, Barb’s extensive experience in governmental accounting and finance was utilized to take the flagship school I-DEA from conception to a fully functional and academically flourishing school in 2004. She successfully managed the organization’s finances through the economic downturn while maintaining the fund balance and administered multiple grants totaling over $6 million.

Barb also served as a board member on the Whitepine School District, as well as Gritman Hospital. Barb’s proven expertise in managing school finances allows GIS to provide the high quality and innovative education desired for all students, no matter their economic or cultural background.

Chief Academic Officer

As the Chief Academic Officer for Gem Innovation Schools, Laurie supports principals, oversees curriculum, instruction and assessment, and manages professional development for all schools. In 2006, she joined the I-DEA administration team as the Director of Curriculum and Assessment and helped move the student academic achievement from the bottom quartile in the state to the top quartile, taking I-DEA students and programs to the forefront in Idaho education. Laurie is an experienced educator whose career began in an inner city school in Long Beach, CA, teaching first and second grade. While completing her own education, she also continued as a classroom teacher in the Boise School District, working with students at the elementary and junior high level as a Reading Specialist and Gifted and Talented Facilitator.  Laurie received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Reading Education, and a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Boise State University.  Her dissertation research focused on how teachers and principals use data to guide curriculum and instruction.


Idaho Distance Education Academy (I-DEA) is a distance education school serving over 600 students state-wide, with three regional resource centers to support students and families.

Open enrollment for grades K-12

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Gem Prep: Pocatello is a face-to-face (on-campus) blended learning school serving students in Pocatello, Idaho and surrounding area.

Open enrollment for grades K-5

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Gem Prep: Nampa is a face-to-face (on-campus) blended learning school serving students in Nampa, Idaho and surrounding area.

Open enrollment for grades K-5

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GIS Contacts

Jason Bransford

Josh Femreite

Barb Femreite

Laurie Wolfe









Media & General Inquiry

For media and general inquiry about Gem Innovation Schools please contact Shay Angelo at 208.238.1388 or shayangelo@geminnovation.org

School Contacts

I-DEA Boise Resource Center
8620 W. Emerald St., STE 190
Boise, ID 83704

I-DEA Post Falls Resource Center
761 N Thornton, STE E
Post Falls, ID 83854

I-DEA Southeast Resource Center
1451 Jessie Clark Lane
Pocatello, ID 83202

Gem Prep: Nampa
5226 Southside Blvd.
Nampa, ID 83686

Gem Prep: Pocatello
1451 Jessie Clark Lane
Pocatello, ID 83202



Why Gem Innovation Schools? Gem Innovation Schools are high achieving public charter schools for students in kindergarten through grade twelve across the state of Idaho. Supported by motivated, innovative leadership, our teachers change the lives of students and families. They are willing to do “whatever it takes” to make every student successful. Our passionate teachers work relentlessly toward academic goals that will prepare students for college and beyond.

Support Us!

To find out more on how you can help Gem Innovation Schools please contact Jason Bransford CEO, at 208.238.1388 or jasonbransford@idahoidea.org.