|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Saturday, 20 August 2011 15:00|
After its first three days of operation, the hallway at Mountain View Preparatory provides the best evidence students are excited and serious about learning at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District’s new Candidate International Baccalaureate School.
Located in the west wing of Dr. Daniel Bright School, Mountain View is the new home of more than 170 students attending kindergarten through sixth grade.
Students already decorated the hallway with countless colorful cutouts, drawings and lists, all a testament to the positive learning experience apparently under way.
On one wall, second-graders listed subjects they want to learn more about.
“How does your heart pump?” asks one.
“How does your esophagus work?” asks another.
Mountain View strives to provide a challenging and academically innovative learning environment where students are encouraged to become critical thinkers, Head Teacher and IB Coordinator Stephanie Jones said at the end of a long school day Friday, Aug. 12.
Teachers work to meet student needs through rigorous instruction, high expectations and real-world concepts that are aligned with state standards, Jones, a 15-year COCSD veteran, said.
Kindergarten teacher Kevin Dix said instruction centers around themes. During the first six weeks, for example, math and reading will be taught around the theme of “how we organize ourselves.”
As they learn how to interact respectfully and appreciate their differences, students are taught math and reading skills aligned with state standards, Dix said.
The IB concept challenges teachers to be creative when making lesson plans. Each day they must determine how to teach skills within the framework of the week’s theme, he said.
“I’m really taking more time to make those connections between subjects. I’m really making a conscious effort,” first-grade teacher Heather Langly said.
“First-grade students are natural learners,” Langly said. “I would rather let their inquiry guide us than stick to something I prepared ahead of time. My students and I are on this journey together.”
Since 2010, Dix and his wife, Denise, also a teacher at the school, worked to organize the new school under Jones’ direction as required by the COCSD Governinig Board and Superintendent Barbara U’Ren,
The board directed staff to create the school to offer parents another education option within the district, but also to attract new students from outside the district.
The plan is succeeding. Many students have come back to the district after leaving to attend local charter schools. New students from Camp Verde have also enrolled. Students from outside the state have expressed a desire to enroll, Jones said.
“We’ve exceeded expectations,” on that score, she said.
Before the school opened, all teachers completed months of additional training to qualify as IB instructors, Jones said.
The Mountain View Preparatory Parent Council also had a tremendous impact on the school’s direction, she said.
The council named the school and developed its mission statement, Jones said.