Prescott school expands its curriculum, adds new learning tools
La Tierra Community School will be buying technology to be used in the classroom, adding to its curriculum, purchasing playground equipment, and providing teachers with more opportunities for professional development after receiving a grant of $230,000 each year for the next three years from the Arizona State Board of Education's Arizona Charter School Incentive Program.
"It's amazing what this grant will help us do," said Anita Fernández, co-founder of La Tierra Community School in Prescott. "We are bare bones, but our students' parents are happy. This just helps us enhance the experience we offer students."
A portion of the grant will be used to buy computers, iPads, Smart Boards and ELMOs (document camera and projector system) to be used in the classrooms, Fernández said.
"The grant will help us build a leveled reader library, a non fiction library, and boost our math curriculum," Fernández said. "Our teachers will also get stipends for professional development so we can treat our teachers like the professionals that they are."
The grant also will finance playground equipment for the K-5 expeditionary learning school affiliated with Prescott College at 124 N. Virginia Street in Prescott, Fernández said.
At expeditionary learning schools, students learn through projects that examine topics in-depth using resources in their community and across disciplines, with an emphasis on student engagement and achievement.
"Our fourth and fifth graders are studying bees right now in science, but they're also learning about them in literature, music and art classes," Fernández said.
Fernandez said La Tierra also stresses leadership and the importance of diversity in their culture and character development. "We're also really focusing on learning Spanish," Fernández said. "Students study Spanish an hour a day at each grade level."
Over the next three years, the school will add a grade level each year to become a K-8 school, Fernández said.
The grants, financed by the federal government, are dispersed through state education departments to charter schools whose model is successful and can be replicated elsewhere, Fernández said.
La Tierra Community School is one of nine schools in Arizona to be awarded the grant. Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy received the grant last year.
"It's a huge compliment on our plans and goals, especially since we've only been open a year," Fernández said. "To be recognized as a model school in Arizona is incredibly rewarding."
The purpose of the Arizona Charter Schools Incentive Program is to increase the number of high quality charter schools in Arizona, improve student achievement to meet high academic standards, and improve high school student achievement and graduation rates.
For more information on La Tierra Community School, visit latierracommunityschool.org.