What is a Charter School
Charter schools are public, nonsectarian schools created through a businesslike contract or "charter" between the charter governance council and the sponsoring school board. The Wisconsin charter school law gives charter schools freedom from most state rules and regulations in exchange for greater accountability for results. The charter defines the missions and methods of the charter school. The chartering authority holds the school accountable to its charter. The charter school motto is "Autonomy for Accountability."
Why a Charter in Kewaskum
Charter schools are given autonomy and freedom to try new innovative ideas that can influence the larger school district as a whole. Our hope is that once the charter school ideas (multi-age, project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, technology-enhanced learning, personalized learning, etc...) are tried and trued, the innovative ideas can filter over into our regular/non-charter school classrooms. So, in essence the goal is for the charter school to have a positive impact on the entire school district, not just Wayne Elementary School where i4Learning will be housed.
Charter at Wayne Elementary School
Wayne Elementary School first opened its doors to students 50 years ago! When the doors opened 50 years ago, there were 4 classrooms that housed first through eighth grade. Fast forward to the 2014-2015 school year and we now have 2 cohort teams, grades K-2 and grades 3-5, within two classrooms the majority of the day. Throughout the 2013-2014 school year the staff visited other schools that were utilizing multi-age learning (charter and non-charter schools). During the spring of 2014 the leadership and staff of Wayne Elementary School decided that to best meet the needs of all learners, the idea of multi-age learning should happen. Over the summer months of 2014 the staff of WES and KSD custodial staff worked together to prepare a multi-age school which meant teachers combining classrooms and resources, moving furniture, curriculum planning and much, much more!! The implementation of the multi-age learning environment is one piece of the puzzle that fits nicely with the planning of the i4Learning Charter School. Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year the planning committee/innovation team, staff and leadership of KSD will solidify plans for the i4Learning Charter School.
See attached documents for different news publications regarding WES multi-age and i4Learning Charter School.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FOR i4LEARNING:
The Kewaskum School District, which covers approximately 155 square miles, is home to three elementary schools, one middle and one high school. Currently two of the smaller elementary schools are in outlying, rural farming areas. The community members of these outlying schools are extremely passionate about the education of their children and honoring the historical background of these schools. These delicate topics were all part of planning conversations and will continue to be as we move forward with the charter.
i4Learning will convert Wayne Elementary to an autonomous, instrumentality charter school within the Kewaskum School District, with a scheduled opening in the Fall of 2015. It will serve 4 year-old Kindergarten through 5th grade by incorporating the community’s unique resources with the 21st century need for collaboration and innovation. Our focus will be to view learning from the lens of a farmer, in order to create the Agricultural model of education that Sir Ken Robinson, in his TED talk video on “Bring on the learning revolution!” aspires us to create. He states, “Human flourishing is not a mechanical process, it is an organic process. You cannot predict the outcome of human development, all you can do - like a farmer - is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”
By moving away from the industrialized model (ringing bells, separate subject areas, linear progression (educating by age), and conformity) and moving toward the agricultural model (organic, innovative, personalized, and utilizing community resources) of education, i4Learning hopes to become a model that our district, state and world will collaborate with and learn from. With the aid of technology, our educational communities can and should become global learning networks.
In order to help organically guide and grow autonomous (life-long) learners, i4Learning will be based upon clusters that intertwine. The four “i” clusters that will revolve around the “Life-Long Learner” are: Individualized, Intrinsic, Integrated, and Innovative. Individualized will focus on student skill level, learning needs and proficiency based progressions. Intrinsic will help students know themselves as learners by exposing them to the concepts behind the “Growth Mindset” (Dweck, 2007) and “The Talent Code” (Coyle, 2009). As for Integrated, observers will see project-based learning opportunities that may incorporate any one of the sixteen Wisconsin Career Clusters. Finally, Innovative will allow for asynchronous (any time, any place, any path) learning, as well as exploring how to eliminate traditional grades and move towards a badge system of achievement.
In order to close the achievement gap, we must recognize that learning takes place at any time, any place, and along any path. i4Learning will create an autonomous learning model that allows for the asynchronous development of students by allowing them to solidify concepts of learning before moving on to the next building block. Thus, our model will be multi-age and progressions will happen along a continuum that is proficiency-based. We will focus on closing the achievement gaps in socioeconomic status, as well as gaps based on disability status. i4Learning’s mission is to ignite a passion for life-long learning through individualization, real-life exploration opportunities and 21st century thinking; thus, it will reflect the methods and values of the farming community in which it was founded.
West Bend Daily News - 10/1/2014 - Big Class, Smaller Focus
West Bend Daily News - 9/4/2014 - 50 Years Wayne Elementary School
The Statesman - 3/6/2014 - Kewaskum Explores Charter School
The Statesman - 11/28/2013 - School Board will gauge public interest in charter school
The Statesman - 10/31/2013 - Quality Education group making strides
The Statesman - 7/25/2013