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Springfield Public Schools to Offer More Education Options

Discovery Center
Photo Credit: Urban Districts Alliance

The first program will immerse fifth grade students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Two classes will meet all day at the Discovery Center beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.  Students will have full access to exhibits and learning labs and will share their knowledge with visiting students. 

Dr. Ben Hackenwerth, associate superintendent of elementary operations for the district, says they want to give students additional unique learning opportunities.

"So, the ability to partner with an organization like the Discovery Center and provide students an environment where they can be immersed in the sciences is something that we can rarely do elsewhere," he said.

Two teachers will be hired for the program.  Students will apply during the next school year and will be chosen through a random lottery system.

Also in 2014, about 50 eighth graders in the district will have the chance to take part in a health sciences academy through Mercy.

An executive at Mercy suggested the program to help meet the local and nationwide need for healthcare workers.

"Mercy is providing us space in the hospital and they're actually designing, well, we're working with them, designing lab space and eighth grade students will actually attend Mercy full-time during their eighth grade year, and it'll be an immersion program in the health sciences field," he said.

Those chosen for the program through a random lottery after submitting applications,will end their day at a middle school and be able to take part in extracurricular activities.

According to Hackenwerth, the program is a win/win.

"Students benefit from the opportunity to take their learning in a whole other direction.  It's not your traditional school, obviously, and the ability to engage those students in a unique way is really exciting.  It's also a win for the community," he said.

He says it’s important for the Springfield School District to do things that are unique so that families and kids will remain here.

Another new program in 2014-2015 will be offered to about 400 students at Glendale High School and is through the New Tech Network.  According to their website, New Tech is a nonprofit organization that transforms schools into innovative learning environments.

Hackenwerth says students will learn through the organization’s Project-Based Learning.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.