Jim Rooks will head up new venture for Center of Wonder

JACKSON, Wyo. — Ever since announcing his retirement from teaching, Jim Rooks has never been busier.

“Don’t call it a retirement,” Rooks said.

The fixture in the classroom at Teton County School District for the past two decades followed his retirement announcement almost immediately with news he would run for town council.

Now comes word Rooks has accepted a part-time position with the Center for Wonder where he will head up the newly-created Wonder Institute.

Founded by Gary and Veronica Silberberg in 2007, the Center of Wonder seeks to empower creative leaders by funding arts organizations, recognizing outstanding teachers, and supporting various nonprofits and creative individuals in the community. The Wonder Institute will be aimed at offering myriad engaging programs for Teton County youth aged 15-25 years.

“We have excellent local schools but they cannot be expected to shoulder the totality of demands presented by the 21st Century,” Rooks said.

Economic forecasts are challenging for all levels of government and the Wonder Institute intends to offer unique programs for young people. It will offer summer programming beginning in July to help empower youth with opportunities as the community works through the challenges of COVID-19.

Rooks will be offering two of his favorite programs—a civic education project called ‘We the People,’ and a financial literacy course called the ‘Stock Market Game.’

Rooks says he is excited about the number of programs the Wonder Institute intends to offer, including everything from internships, apprenticeships and work opportunities, to service learning, and special age-level social events.

“Just watch what we do for the youth of Jackson Hole in the coming months and years. We all know the incredible capacity of our community when we unite under one goal, which for us, is youth engagement,” Rooks said.

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