Selected readings on US charter schools
James Irwin Charter STEM Academy would be a “blended learning” school, where students attend classes two days a week and work online, either at home or in the school’s library, the rest of the time. Courses would be “flipped” so students would learn new content online, then come to class for experiments, dialogue and collaboration.
If all proceeds as planned, James Irwin Charter STEM Academy would open in August 2014 to eventually serve students in the seventh through 12th grades.
An information meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Feb. 27.
Parents and students are invited to learn about expectations, options, technology and working with teachers in class and online.
Mixing online coursework with class time has proven to be much more effective than online learning alone, said James Irwin Spokeswoman Debbie Swanson.
“The face of education is changing,” she said. “We want to make sure it is an improvement.”
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Students who complete the college prep program at the school would receive a diploma of distinction, Swanson said.
James Irwin Charter School has three schools chartered through Harrison School District 2 serving elementary, middle and high school students.
“We have a waiting list for each of our schools,” Swanson said.
A second elementary school was approved by the Colorado Charter School Institute and will open in August. School officials are seeking to purchase the former Jefferson Elementary School in Colorado Springs School District 11 to serve as the K-5 campus.
The STEM academy is not the only school in the works. A trade school that focuses on manufacturing is also being planned, Swanson said.
“There’s only one or two like it in the country,” she said.
Most trade schools require a GED or high school diploma. The school proposed by James Irwin would combine high school education and at least the first certification for a trade, she said.
“Not every kid is college material,” she said.
Swanson said there is significant interest from businesses and potential students. Ideally, the school would produce a pool of skilled labor for companies that are struggling to fill jobs, she said.
The school would open serving students in the seventh through 10th grade, and eventually add two additional grades.
A likely location would be in the south or southeast area of the city near manufacturing companies, Swanson said.
Although the STEM academy and the trade school are different from the James Irwin schools that are open, high expectations for academic achievement will remain, she said.
Over the summer, James Irwin Charter Schools became a charter management organization. Eventually, any of the schools could be replicated anywhere in the country, Swanson said.
Applications for the STEM academy and the trade school have not been submitted to the state chartering agency or any school district.
Prospective students of either school would likely come from Harrison School District 2, Colorado Springs School District 11, Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 and Widefield School District 3, Swanson said.
Source: Gazette – by Kristina Iodice