MUSD board votes on high-tech learning at Maricopa Wells
By Christia Gibbons
Maricopa Wells Middle School could go from being a school in jeopardy to one leading the nation with a new program MUSD governing board members are set to approve Wednesday.
The program – called blended learning -- mixes the foundations of traditional teaching with the technology of the digital world today’s students were born into.
“We’re on the cutting edge with our blended-learning model,” said Ember Conley, deputy superintendent of the Maricopa Unified School District.
The program, which is a mix of online and classroom learning, comes in response to an Arizona Department of Education mandate four years ago to restructure the under-producing school. Conley said options included getting rid of the staff, making the school a charter school or figuring out a new educational program.
“We talked to the community in focus groups, parents, teachers, and others, and we looked to see where the nation’s educational system was headed,” she said.One hundred students in grades sixth through eighth will be chosen through a lottery to participate in the program in the fall.
“Our hope and our goal are to add more kids and grade levels every year,” Conley said. For instance, the plan is to add fifth graders in fall 2013.
“I’m never satisfied with the status quo and this is the right program for our kids,” she said. “They will learn and grow exponentially using technology as a tool.”
The board, which meets at 6 p.m. in the District Office Administration Building, also will hear reports on Conley’s recent trip to an education conference in Washington, D.C., where MUSD was the only district invited from Arizona, an update on the district’s budgeting process, and results of a teacher-satisfaction survey.