Jan. 30, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
Several changes are coming to the Ann Arbor Public Schools for the 2014-2015 school year. The Board of Education voted on the following new programs at its Jan. 29 meeting:
Northside Elementary will reopen as K-8 STEAM school
Northside parents expressed interest in a K-8 STEAM program, said AAPS Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Students will use technology in order to complete projects that combine lessons in different subjects. Each student and staff member will be provided with a device, such as a tablet or laptop.
The program could attract more students in the area. With 185 students, Northside is at 35 percent occupancy this year. The building can accommodate up to 500.
Current Northside students have the option of being grandfathered into the program or choosing to attend another AAPS school. Teaching staff also have the option to work in the new program or at another AAPS building.
“Getting STEAM into a K-8 program would be unique,” Dr. Swift said when she first presented the idea to the BOE at its retreat last week. Few elementary programs across the country feature a focus on STEAM education.
Toyota is also interested the upcoming STEAM school at Northside, Dr. Swift said. Toyota has worked with the district on a pilot STEAM program and this summer the company sent AAPS teachers and administrators to Singapore to learn more about STEAM initiatives.
‘Pathways to Success Campus’ will co-locate resources for alternative programs
The Pathways to Success Campus will serve as headquarters for the district’s alternative programs. Students who currently attend Roberto Clemente, A2 Tech, Adult Education, the GED and Options Program will still be enrolled in their current program, but will attend classes at the A2 Tech building.
Housing the programs together in one building “means we are committed to giving them more,” said Dr. Swift, such as media specialists, social workers, and health services.
All Pathways students will be assigned a device after completing 10 credits in their program.
Bryant and Pittsfield will offer 1:1 technology for kindergarteners and first graders
All Bryant and Pittsfield kindergartners and first graders will have a device, such as a tablet or laptop, exclusively for their use during the school day. Administrators hope that instituting a 1:1 program will attract students at the two schools, which have seen lower enrollment in recent years.
Thurston and Allen will offer tuition preschool and Great Start Readiness Program
Thurston and Allen will each offer two preschool classes next fall. The tuition preschool and Great Start Readiness Program, which is fully funded by the state, will share seats in both classes.
Because all GSRP slots would likely be filled, the tuition-based program would be able to exist. One potential difficulty of a tuition-based-only preschool program is the possibility of not filling all of the open spots.
AAPS Young 5 will expand
Abbot currently offers a half-day Young 5 program. The district will offer a full-day Young 5 program at Abbot and a few other AAPS elementary buildings, which will be determined at a later date based on availability.
The Young 5 program provides a wide variety of activities that help students adjust to the school environment and working with other students. The program is provided at no cost to families.
World Language will be offered at some elementary schools
Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, American Sign Language or Arabic will be available at select elementary schools starting in the 2014-2015 school year.
The A2 Virtual+ Academy will provide multiple options for online classes
The A2 Virtual+ Academy will offer a full range of online courses starting in Fall 2014 to students in grades 5-12. The primary goal is to provide students access to online and extended learning options in order to develop a personalized learning path.
The Academy features AAPS online courses and courses provided by Edgenuity and Michigan Virtual School. Students can take up to two online courses per academic year and the courses are supported by a certified teacher.
A2 Virtual+ Academy courses are free for AAPS students and are available at a cost for out-of-district students.
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