Issuu on Google+

EDUCATION LEADERS TODAY

T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R C A P TA I N S O F I N D U S T RY www.educationleaderstoday.com

FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY

Flagstaff Academy prescribes to the Core Knowledge Sequence, providing students with a rich vocabulary and broad knowledge and giving them the opportunity to succeed and thrive in today’s rapidly changing and advancing world.


FEATURE | FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY

2 Winter 2010


FLAGSTAFF FLAGSTAFFACADEMY ACADEMY| FEATURE | FEATURE

Integrated, High-tech Education Solutions Through an advanced Core Knowledge Sequence program based on data, experience and innovation, Flagstaff Academy provides their students with more than an education; they give them the opportunity to succeed and thrive in today’s rapidly changing and advancing world. by Joel Cornell

In order to provide their K-8 students with absolutely everything they need succeed in a rapidly changing world, Flagstaff Academy utilizes a uniquely integrated curriculum based on the Core Knowledge Sequence. As a public charter school located in Longmont, Colo., Flagstaff Academy takes quite seriously their mission to provide a science-focused, liberal arts curriculum that promotes excellence, teamwork, respect and a lifelong love of learning. The initial school program came to fruition when a small group of parents, many of whom were leaders in local science and technology laboratory industries, felt that the modern approach to science and technology in the neighboring school districts was extremely lacking. Founded on a core dedication to advanced learning principals, the Core Knowledge Sequence, Flagstaff Academy has enjoyed explosive growth since their founding in 2005. For years, educators have identified skills that would be taught at each grade

level, but content decisions have been left to individual classroom teachers. Thus, a vast disparity of topics has been taught depending on the personal interests and expertise of a specific teacher. Curricula across schools and even within schools at the same grade level have been quite diverse. The Core Knowledge Sequence was developed to provide students with a rich vocabulary and broad knowledge upon which future instruction can build, broaden and deepen. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all children are given access to the same knowledge base that assures later educational success. Thus, the Core Knowledge Sequence provides a detailed, explicit and systematic sequence of grade-specific content that can be taught consistently year after year. The core content is organized to spiral through the grade levels, becoming more sophisticated and dedicated in each successive grade. It has been the experience of those using the approach

Flagstaff’s mission is to provide a science-focused, liberal arts curriculum. Education Leaders Today 3


FEATURE | FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY

ABOVE: Flagstaff’s approach to a uniquely integrated curriculum involves off-site learning opportunities at all grade levels. In addition to traditional field trips, middle school students take part in several overnight explorative trips in the Colorado mountains. OPPOSITE PAGE: Enthusiastic teachers promote excited learners in a safe, healthy and respectful environment.

4 Winter 2010

that students retain information much longer and develop skills more easily when meaningful content is combined with the teaching of skills. This unique and incredibly effective method had been led by Flagstaff Academy’s principal, Andrew Moore, since he took his position in 2008. Moore’s career in education began working in and then running local summer camps. As that industry began to boom, Moore became more involved with camps that integrated school learning into their campers daily lives. Over the years, he moved through the local Colorado public, private and charter school systems, eventually joining Flagstaff Academy as a math and literacy specialist in the school’s first year. In 2008, the principal stepped down and Moore was selected as his interim replacement, before being confirmed as the school’s

permanent principal. “With the vast nonprofit, charter and interdisciplinary teaching/leading experience I had behind me,” Moore said, “Flagstaff Academy embodied, for me, the promising future of education. We have been astonishingly successful from the start in terms of our core principals of knowledge as a sequence of content that guides what we do.” As part of their Core Knowledge Sequence, Flagstaff Academy integrates all of a student’s learning into a single, engrossing experience. By weaving language arts, social sciences or mathematics with natural sciences or computer literacy, and then into preengineering, the success the student body has resulted in astounding test scores that have been turning heads locally and across the country over the past five years. In just their fourth year in operation,


FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY | FEATURE

Education Leaders Today 5


FEATURE | FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY

 Students in grades K-8 truly “experience” science by using lab-based programming in conjunction with the Core Knowledge science curriculum.

6 Winter 2010

Flagstaff Academy has moved out of their temporary facilities and into a 70,000 sq. ft. building adjacent to a local community college; a rare sign of success for a new charter school. Today, the facility accommodates over 800 students, but has the capacity for many more. The new building was long abandoned, but served as a perfect site. Due to the new aesthetic and the lack of negative environmental impact from the renovation process, the school won the Colorado contractors’ ACE Award for taking something nobody wanted and turning it into something wonderful. Flagstaff Academy takes a sincere and dedicated approach to their use of technology in the day to day lives of student and teacher alike. Through partnerships with companies like Xilinx and Google, the technology infrastructure that the school has develop is astounding. In relying on a data-based, integrated approach to learning, the school has set itself apart through its emphasis on rapidly expanding technologies and tools. This approach affects every aspect of the lives of the students, teachers and parents.

“We provide teachers with a lot of exposure, experience and support in collecting, reviewing and analyzing data in order to base decision on solid, data driven information to the point where this next year, we’re planning classes based on what students a teacher should have,” Moore said. “Through the tools we use to create these portfolios and understand where a certain teacher excels. If one teacher is a master engineer, we try and have him work as much as possible with students whose interests and skills lie in engineering. We investigate to see what population or grouping of student that teacher would be most adept at growing, and make sure the teacher has ample opportunities to work with that group in some capacity. So far, we’ve seen nothing but the most astounding results from this method.” Apart from the daily applications in each student’s education, Flagstaff Academy applies new technology to the little things as well. After suffering severe problems with the traffic situation at the end of the school day, a parent volunteered several iPads, along with his skills in writing


FEATURE | FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY

8 Winter 2010


FLAGSTAFF ACADEMY | FEATURE

software. He wrote a program for the iPads that has parents enter their car’s drive line number into the iPad. Based on which number is entered into which iPad, the parent is directed into a certain lane and a coordinator with the students directs the student to that lane at the proper time. Through his own personal research, Moore estimated that parental involvement and volunteering efforts saved the school over $100,000 in the 2009-2010 school year alone. “We’ve seen the advances technology has made just in the past few years, and the benefits it brings, and we try and integrate that as much as possible into the lives of our students,” Moore said. “Still, we don’t rely on any singular process or idea. We

integrate all of these things and provide an optimized education that gives students a real and sincere advantage when they face their future. Though we only work with students through the 8th grade, we’ve already developed partnerships with universities, community colleges and local industry leaders to give our students every single opportunity we can.” “This balance between the arts and the sciences, between the classics and new technological innovations, between punitive traditional discipline and restorative justice, help the students to take responsibility and develop themselves into the successful future we know they can embody.” ELT

OPPOSITE PAGE: Within the Core Knowledge Sequence, subjects such as art and history are intertwined, providing students with a multi-layered approach to traditional subjects. An interactive display created by art students recreates ancient cave art. ABOVE: BOTTOM: (LEFT) Flagstaff’s parental involvement is tremendous. Here, students participate in the annual “Jog-a-Thon” fundraiser, organized by parent volunteers and netting over $30,000 for the school. (CENTER) (RIGHT) At Flagstaff Academy, community and service starts in the classroom and extends beyond, requiring students to participate in their surrounding communities. Emphasizing the importance of a sense of community encourages responsible citizenship and seeks to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

Education Leaders Today 9



Flagstaff Academy