By Andrew Cluley
From science and technology programs, to high student achievement, to a great sense of community every Ann Arbor Public Schools building offers a unique learning environment. With so many choices, parents could spend hours visiting each school trying to understand what’s available. The second annual districtwide school open house at Pioneer High School Monday night offered a quick glimpse into all the options AAPS offers.
Tappan Middle School Assistant Principal Chris Roberts believes the event gives incoming families a chance to one stop shop.
“You can get a full set of opportunities, from elementary, to middle, and high school, to see what Ann Arbor Public Schools has to offer, and see if this is something you’re going to want to commit to and be a part of, and as I said it’s got a long tradition of excellence,” he says.
Roberts says the open house also gives parents a chance to talk with administrators and other staff members or students about the learning environment they can expect.
Allen Elementary Principal Kerry Beal says the open house can help families as they decide which school is best suited for their children. “I’m a firm believer that you should go in and see all of the schools that you’re interested in. I love Allen, and Allen has a good feeling, but you’ve got to find the right fit for you, and Ann Arbor offers all of those choices,” Beal said.
Sometimes choosing the right fit is all about finding a program where students will excel. One such initiative highlighted at the open house is the district’s K-12 International Baccalaureate program.
Huron High School physics teacher Todd Newell has experience with IB and was at the open house to explain the strengths of an IB education.
“It’s not just about the material that the student learns, but it’s actually about the student and the skills they have,” Newell says. “So IB is still going to hold you to a high academic standard, similar to what AP would, but all through the lens of what skills do you have as a student when you enter my class, what skills do you have when you leave my class, and how are those skills going to prepare you for the next level.”
Jose Acosta and his family stopped by the open house to find out more about Tappan Middle School. His oldest child will attend Tappan in the fall. The open house isn’t going to change where Acosta’s kids will attend in the fall, but he says it’s great to be able to learn about all AAPS schools in one place.
“We moved from New York a couple of months ago and this is very good because just one stop and you have information on what’s available out there,” Acosta says.