Finding Science And Art In Phoenix Schools

Many, many programs are available to students throughout all Phoenix Public Schools districts. Sensing the constant need for improvements, and to keep up with national and global standards, Phoenix Schools are meeting these demands head on. For example, some Phoenix Schools have implemented innovative Science, Art, and IB (International Baccalaureate) programs.

InnoWorks, a new science program available to underprivileged Phoenix Schools middle-school students, was implemented in February 2007 by Grace Hsieh, a junior at the University of Arizona. Hsieh was looking to start a peer mentor and tutoring program when she came across a website detailing the program InnoWorks, which had its beginnings at Duke University.

Phoenix Schools middle-schoolers take part in a free science camp organized and run entirely by UA undergraduates. Twenty-four students from six Phoenix Schools were selected for the camp. InnoWorks’ leaders hope that by exposing underprivileged Phoenix Schools students to college campuses and science research, more students will be inspired to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Immediately it was easy to recognize what a great program it was, in its philosophy and vision,” Hsieh said.

Hsieh has gathered about $20,000 in donations to fund the program, recruited about 20 fellow students to work as mentors, and sought out campers by calling Phoenix Schools counselors and teachers.

Explorer Middle School recently received the Mayor’s School of Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts Education. Integrating arts into their academic classes is one thing that makes this member of the Phoenix Schools unique.

Principal Marianne Bursi believes that the appreciation of art relates to all fields of study.

“We find students learn more by doing,” said Bursi. “The brain remembers more with visuals rather than just looking at plain old text. The [students] discover [they have] many hidden talents because art is incorporated into all their academics.”

Each quarter, seventh-graders are encouraged to take chorus, visual arts, world languages and applied technology courses. Once they are in eighth grade, these Phoenix Schools children can then choose which they prefer for the year

Phoenix Schools are beginning to offer children in Grades K-10 an opportunity to learn via the International Baccalaureate program. This is a teaching model used around the world that pushes students to become proficient in at least two languages, think critically and learn from a global perspective by studying other cultures.

Mesa Public Schools could soon become the first school district in Phoenix Schools, and one of only a handful nationwide, to offer an IB program to students from kindergarten through the end of high school.

Gregg Good, is the IB coordinator for one Phoenix Schools high school which began offering the program last year. Administrators are still determining the best way to test young Phoenix Schools elementary students in a “culturally neutral” way to decide which children will participate in the rigorous IB program for the 2007-2008 school year.

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