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Innovation School Letter

May 12, 2015

 

Dear Page Parents,

 

Over the past 6 months, a team comprised of staff, parents, and community partners have come together to form our Innovation School Leadership Team.  This process was a critical first stage in the implementation of our Innovation School Master Plan that the Department of Education approved roughly a year ago to this date.  The idea of shared leadership within a school has initiated many thoughtful conversations and opened many doors for our Engineering and Design Academy.  Our progressive work is in concert with many of the endeavors across the district as recently highlighted in the Boston Globe North article published in March. Much of the hard work and effort put forth by students, parents, and strong community support also favored the Page School in receiving a Department of Education Implementation Grant of nearly $30,000 which, combined with the rest of the Pentucket School District’s request, totaled $164,956.  This was all but $30,000 of the entire Innovation School allotments that the state had to disburse for the implementation of innovation schools across the state. Businesses and universities are working with us hand in hand to help grow what we envision to be as the educational opportunity of choice for students and families.

 

We wanted to take this time to update you on all the work we have accomplished since December.  The core of our meetings thus far has evolved around three major components; the management of the general budget items that the school has purview over, the grant allocation, and the redesign of the school curriculum to support the core principles of Science, Engineering, Technology, Arts, and Math (STEAM).  Page, as with the other schools in Pentucket, is taking steps to integrate high levels of personal meaning, adaptive leadership skills, and academic knowledge to accelerate the learning of every student.  Our general budget work has given us a sound allotment for materials and supplies with cost saving measures and streamlined processes enacted throughout.

 

The Leadership Team has unanimously approved the teaching resource KnowAtom with the grant award of $30,000.  This program has its genesis on the north shore as a local company that has been working collectively with other schools around the area to support STEAM initiatives, all of which have been supplied overwhelmingly positive feedback.  The KnowAtom resource will address the standards for grades 1-6.  Some parents might have seen their child experiment with some of the hands on models as we piloted resources for KnowAtom that are being designed for STEM instruction in third world countries.  Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students will explore their STEAM potential with similar inquiry-based resources.

 

We have made great strides in ensuring that the science endeavors are connected to health and wellness of our children with this process.  There is work in place to support a more effective farm to school collaborative with many the surrounding farming communities.  Over the next few months we are looking at finding creative ways to help our school garden flourish and bring more local resources into our cafeteria through harvest days and taste demos. We are currently looking for families to help sponsor a week of garden upkeep (weeding, watering, etc…) over the summer. Those interested in helping should note so in the survey.

For the school redesign, the Leadership Team has developed a model in which we have rethought the way in which large spaces within the building can be used to help inspire children to think about their learning in a different way.

 

  • Our Pentucket Education Foundation equipped Science Lab, on the third floor, will be complemented with technology and materials that are more suitable for the upper grades.  One might envision a robotics curriculum, alternative energy kits, rocketry, and circuitry resources. This will be renamed into the Upper Creation Station.

 

  • Our Garden room, located on the second floor, might “grow” to include more greenhouses, hydroponics design, or endless light experiments.  Experiments and seedlings started in this room will have a logical connection to our work with the school garden and our farm to school initiatives.
  • Our Breakout Room, on the first floor, is an area that is reserved for classroom projects not confined by regular walls.  This is a place where projects can be enhanced, demonstrations from special visitors can occur, and kids can spread out and roll up their sleeves on creative ideas.

 

  • Our Library and Computer Lab will look very similar to its current design, but the delivery model will change.  Traditional computer time and book circulation will merge into a Media Lab concept.  We are currently working on redesigning our digital curriculum that not only addresses typing and word processing skills, but involves computer coding, programming, and online coursework. Students in K-3 will receive both library resource instruction and digital literacy curriculum.  Grade 4-6 students will work in a hybrid online environment that is tailored to their interests.

 

  • Finally, on the ground floor when you enter the building past the office, you will see our current conference room and storage area will be transformed into a Creation Station.  Taking advantage of what is already there, this room will be a space where children can build, explore, construct/deconstruct, and be inspired through the incorporation of learning about the world around them.  Resources in this room will mirror many of the concepts on the third floor, but in an environment more typically geared towards the lower grades.  One might see introductory robotics or engineering design elements and software.  There will also be elements of incorporating the everyday world, so collections of household items that you might otherwise recycle will be put to use by creative minds.

Here is where we need a concerted community effort in helping us achieve this vision.  Below you will find a needs list.  As you will see, this is a compilation of objects, from the everyday to the extraordinary.  As the Leadership Team at the Page Innovation School for Engineering and Design, we are asking that you consider supporting our efforts with donations of any kind that help fulfill our mission and vision.  

Wish List for Garden Room/Farm to School Initiative

6 small laundry /trug baskets for student vegetable harvesting

4 large salad spinners

6 large garden pots 18-24” – possibly terra cotta for herbs

A selection of 3” herb plants

An additional portable greenhouse like the one in the garden room

Children’s books about gardening/growing food.

 

Wish List for Creation Station

paper plates                 rubber bands               plastic wrap        yarn

pipe cleaners               lunch size bags            newspaper          foil

hot glue guns             tissue paper                   ribbon                 twine

empty cereal boxes     duct tape                      nuts/bolts           straws

egg cartons                  masking tape               coffee stirrers     felt

half gallon cartons        craft sticks                   craft wire             buttons

excess fabric               sea shells                   paper towel tubes                                                  

The Innovation Team is pursuing several competitive and noncompetitive grants for the following items.  Any additional donations for these items will help us use the grant money to further implement our programs and resources.  Parents whose employers may have connections to funding programs like this should contact the school directly for further assistance or facilitation in filling out business grants.

 

3-D printer

Lego Mindstorms or similar

Vex Kits or similar

K’Nex or similar

Cubelets or similar

Littlebits or similar

Lastly, the Leadership Team would like to hear from you, our community, with feedback on our future work in these areas. Email dgray@prsd.org or call the school with thoughts on areas that we could explore or ways in which you might be able to assist us.  

 

Thank you in advance for the feedback and continued support of our Page students!