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Thu, Dec. 12

Prescott schools welcome Expeditionary Learning seminar

Two Prescott schools played host to an Expeditionary Learning Schools Outward Bound (ELS) seminar Jan. 22 and 23.

In 2006, PUSD introduced expeditionary learning to middle and high school students.

The district opened Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy with room for 100 ninth grade students. NELA has added a grade each school year, and by Fall 2009, it will be a 9-12 high school.

PUSD was one of 12 communities in the United States to receive money from a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a new, small, rigorous high school based on the Expeditionary Learning model.

Expeditionary Learning offers college preparation, hands-on learning, service opportunities, close relationships, emphasis on reading and writing, inquiry-based math, science and social studies, integrated art adventure and fitness, and opportunities to explore.

Prescott Mile High Middle School implemented the Expeditionary Learning program in 2006 with approximately 150 seventh grade students.

With two EL programs, ELS invited PUSD to share their practices with teachers, administrators and school officials in a "site seminar" format.

Representatives from throughout the country met with Northpoint teachers and students Jan 23. They talked about science, social studies, language arts, math, foreign language and art.

At Mile High Middle School the next day, the participants learned how MHMS teachers integrated Expeditionary Leaning into the curriculum.

"Both Northpoint and Mile High did a fantastic job of representing the quality work they are doing and how Expeditionary Learning is infused within their teaching," ELS School Designer David DenHartog said.

Scott Gill, from Boise, Idaho, is the regional director for Expeditionary Learning with schools in the Southwest.

"It is interesting to see Expeditionary Learning take hold in Prescott, not just at Northpoint. It has taken hold in a thoughtful way, percolating from the bottom up instead of the top down," Gill said.

While at MHMS, Gill listened to a presentation about the consequences of World War II.

"Those 40 minutes in the auditorium had a bigger impact on me about the consequences of WW II than what I learned in high school," Gill said.

Becky Harrison, an administrator in Utah attended the seminar to "see what EL is doing in Prescott."

Harrison said her school introduced Expeditionary Learning in January and she was in Prescott to get some ideas.

"This is a phenomenal program with phenomenal teachers. I think they are taking the core concepts and bringing them to the individual level. I am really impressed with the student involvement," Harrison said.

DenHartog said Northpoint and Mile High are hoping ELS selects them to highlight their work again next year.

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