Parents of kindergarteners and elementary school students seeking to enroll in a new school next fall have heard a lot this year about the new “Magnet Schools” in the Napa Valley Unified School District. These schools are:
-Math, Arts, Science and Math (MAST) at Alta Heights Magnet School
-Bel Aire Park Magnet School International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program
The elementary open enrollment period for next year closing this Friday, February 24, 2012. After this time, enrollment in the magnet schools and/or other area elementary schools, for next year, will still be possible, space permitting.
(The piece of art above was art of a 4th grade artful learning unit at Salvador Elementary School this year.)
“NVUSD has a long tradition of providing school choice through open enrollment to any elementary school in the district that has room. Many parents choose their neighborhood schools or maybe one of four charter schools in the district.
These four schools are the district’s newly minted “magnet schools” developed with the help of a $7 million dollar grant from the federal government. Each school emphasizes a specialized theme and instructional method, which include:
According to Maren Rocca-Hunt, the district’s Director of Elementary Education, “These schools are called ‘magnet schools’ because their programs are intended to attract parents from all corners of the district [and from all walks of life].” By attracting parents from all over the district, the district hopes the schools will have a more diverse student population.
“Research shows that a more diverse student body helps all students, both socially and academically,” says Rocca-Hunt, “This is one way to help close the achievement gap and give people choices on great programs.”
At Alta Heights, the focus will be on designing integrated math and science units that embed art and technology to enrich and enliven the curriculum. Each unit is interdisciplinary and includes reading, math, science, writing, art, technology, social studies, and public speaking.
“The instructional theme at Alta Heights is MAST: mathematics, arts, science and technology,” said Rocca-Hunt. “Teachers are preparing students for success in a world with increasing demands in science, math and technology, while instilling a sense of creativity through art integration.”
At Bel Aire Park, teachers will use inquiry-based instruction, an essential component of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization.
“A sister school to Mt. George, Bel Aire Park is a candidate school of the IB Organization,” said Rocca-Hunt. “ In this program, students learn by asking questions, exploring, experimenting, and researching universal topics and concepts. Students are active learners who apply their knowledge and skills through meaningful action. This program is internationally recognized and students and staff collaborate with programs around the globe.”
At Salvador Magnet School, artful learning – integrating the arts and artistic process into the daily classroom experience across all academic disciplines – is designed to help students experience, inquire, create, reflect and sustain their love of learning.
“Integrating the arts — including dance, music, theatre and visual arts — with other subjects provides students with a unique learning experience,” said Rocca-Hunt. “Students learn to engage in learning while developing a deep understanding of the world. Artful Learning is the transformational model teachers apply to daily instruction.”
At Vista 360 Pueblo Vista, the theme of environmental science is integrated throughout the curriculum.
“ By focusing on four key principles of environmental science — Cycles, Systems, Energy, and Change — students obtain an in-depth understanding of how humans and the natural world are interconnected,” said Rocca-Hunt. “Students extend their learning through local field trips and service learning opportunities, such as habitat restoration projects and community awareness activities. By providing hands-on, experiential learning opportunities before, during, and after school, Vista 360 Pueblo Vista prepares students with a strong academic foundation necessary to succeed in life.”
A fifth elementary school is also moving toward a new thematic focus. Napa Junction Elementary did not qualify for federal grant funds because it is already diversified, but it is already taking steps to implement a New Technology Elementary School design, Rocca-Hunt noted.
“Napa Junction has taken the lead in American Canyon and is now the hub for Project Based Learning and integrating technology into instruction,” Rocca-Hunt said. “Teachers in fourth and fifth grade are implementing units of study to increase critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. Next year, Napa Junction will be supported in the expansion of technology and the development as a lab school for teacher training and development. This New Tech Design will align instruction with American Canyon Middle School and American Canyon High School.”
Parents wanting a small learning environment may consider driving to Yountville Elementary which will expand to a kindergarten through sixth grade.
“Our neighborhood schools have a lot to offer but some parents like to have options. We hope that by including the magnet schools, charter schools and our wonderful neighborhood schools everyone can find the right place for their child to learn and grow.”
Open elementary school enrollment began February 1 and continues until 3:30 p.m. on February 24. Kindergarten registration also began on February 1, for children who will be 5 on or before November 1. Students with a birthday between November 2 and December 2 will be allowed to complete an “Intent to Register” form for Transition Kindergarten, a one-year class for students who will continue directly into kindergarten the following year.
Rocca-Hunt will host a parent information meeting this spring to review details of the Transition Kindergarten program.”