The Madrone Trail Public Charter School is a public charter K-8 school that has been open in the Medford, Oregon school district since September 2007.

The plan set out by the founders of this school was to create a kindergarten through 8th grade school. Madrone Trail started as a kindergarten through second grade school located in very small quarters near the YMCA.

In the Fall of 2010 MTPCS moved into its new campus. The purchase of the facility was made possible by a generous contribution and loan provided by a benefactor. Ongoing support of donations of work and funds by parents and community members has enabled Madrone Trail to grow and thrive.

Each year, we have added a grade, and in 2013 reached our full kindergarten through 8th grade school size.

As a public charter school, there is no tuition and the school is open to anyone residing in Oregon. If demand exceeds spaces, preference is given to students residing within the Medford School district.

Madrone Trail adapts Waldorf educational methods to public education. The school features parent and community participation at all levels, including governance.

At Madrone Trail, movement and the arts are not add-ons to a predominately cognitive approach, but are integrated fully into all aspects of teaching. The inclusion of heart and hands is more than a technique for enlivening academic instruction. In a three-fold approach, the heart and the will, as well as the head, are the subjects of educational endeavor. In other words, the arts are not merely a means to an end– improved academic performance-but an end in themselves.

To educate the feelings is to edify and refine the emotions so that they are sensitive and responsive to beauty, truth, and goodness.

To educate the will is to build a foundation of inner strength leading to a life of conviction and purpose.

Read all grades teachers bios here by selecting a grade or subject.


Executive Director

John Bissey

John grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and attended Clemson University as more than 40 other family members before him had done. He studied Biology and Anthropology with dreams of becoming a zookeeper.  After graduating, he set out for California where he had been offered a summer internship with the Performing Animal Welfare Society which operates a 2,500 acre private elephant sanctuary for victims of the animal trade.

Not wanting to head home after the internship, he made his way to Corvallis, Oregon to further study Zoology.  He concurrently worked at the local food coop and as a chef at the only vegetarian restaurant in town.  It was while serving in these positions that he developed a love for cooking and excellent ingredients. After a brief stint at Brad’s World Reptiles, a private herpetology collection of more than 2,000 exotic snakes, lizards and turtles, his passions turned to working with adolescent primates of the Homo sapiens variety.

John earned his Master of Arts in Teaching at Western Oregon University.  To help pay for the degree, he sustainably collected small mountains of Golden Chanterelles while climbing actual mountains with his dog.  He also worked with two prominent organic farms, Gathering Together Farms and Denison Organic Farms, running their farmers’ market booths.  The markets were held in locations from Corvallis to Beaverton and from Portland to Hillsdale and exposed John to even more modes of self-sustainability.  After graduating from Western Oregon, he spent a year as a beekeeper before moving to Portland and starting his teaching career as a high school science teacher.

It was not long before John’s girlfriend, Haley, also pursued graduate school and, to his chagrin, enrolled in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where she studied Sustainable Urban and Environmental Planning.  It was while teaching here that John began to think about administration.  Though he knew he was having a positive impact on his science students as well as those he took abroad on international trips, he desired to make a bigger impact.  This desire became a reality when they moved back to Oregon, got married and settled down in Medford.  While John kept working as a science teacher, he also pursued his administrative license at Southern Oregon University.  Haley landed her dream job as the Parks Planner for the City of Medford, cementing their roots in the area.

John is very excited to begin this next chapter of his life.  Madrone Trail is exactly the type of school he envisioned ending up when he first enrolled at SOU.  He looks forward to getting to know the children, staff, parents and the Waldorf approach to education.   When he isn’t at school, he is often riding bikes with his wife, road tripping to various hot springs, or romping around in the woods looking for delectable mushrooms to cook or clone for later cultivation.


Jeff Roberson

Jeff Roberson was born in Southern California and loved boogie boarding at the beach often while growing up. He also played many sports during his youth, including soccer and cross country. His main love was basketball and he was able to play pickup basketball games at local parks, pretty much year round due to the favorable southern California weather. Jeff fondly remembers his parents telling him, “Basketball can’t be your whole life.” Maybe not, but it certainly has come close.

Jeff has been an educator and a coach his entire adult life. With a master’s degree in Education, he has taught many grade levels-from preschool all the way up to 8th grade. He especially loves coaching basketball, and has coached youth basketball for over 15 years as well as high-level men’s wheelchair basketball for two years. He also recently published his Middle Grade fiction book: Homecourt.

Jeff and his wife, Sarah, have three children and enjoy the role of being foster parents to several more as well. Jeff and Sarah were living in Long Beach, CA when they found out they were pregnant with their first child, 14 years ago. They had been to Medford several times already after Sarah’s father transferred within the Providence healthcare system. They decided Southern Oregon would be a great place to raise a family and made the move, which they have never regretted.

Jeff is very excited to work with the students of Madrone Trail and has already begun to see tremendous growth in their reading abilities. The students here are eager to learn and work hard every day, which is an awesome thing to see.

Office Manager

Michelle Coull


Sherrie Gasper

Sherrie was born and raised here in the Rogue Valley and has seen a lot of change over the years. She graduated from Rogue Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services. She most recently worked at OnTrack Addictions Recovery for six years working with adults and most recently teens, which she found very rewarding.

This is Sherrie’s first opportunity to work in a school and is enjoying discovering the new experiences of it. She is glad to be here at Madrone Trail and is entertained daily by the joy, innocence, and comedy of the children. She has a daughter and son-in-law and four grandchildren.