On May 8, A+ Charter School received unanimous approval from the Arizona State Charter Board to make several changes, including expanding to 6th grade and implementing a four-day week.
After opening in 2020 during the peak of the COVID pandemic, Principal Rachele Reese is excited to be headed in the right direction.
“All of a sudden, I just feel we finally have the momentum,” Reese said. “We have a solid foundation to start building; we’re there.”
The addition of 6th grade will improve continuity among students, teachers and parents and provide an easier transition for fifth-graders looking for a charter school, she added.
A+ is currently accepting enrollment for 6th grade for next school year.
To accommodate for the new Monday-Thursday schedule, faculty has reconstructed the academic calendar and bell schedule.
The school will maintain its current start time, with the first bell ringing at 8:30 a.m. However, afternoon release will be pushed back by 20 minutes, resulting in a 3:55 p.m. dismissal.
Core classes, such as math, English and science, have now been shifted to the morning, while electives will be held in the afternoon.
“In the morning, the kids’ brains are fresh and ready to learn,” Dean of Students Nate Wong said.
In addition, the block schedule has been revised, reducing class duration from the 120 minutes to 90 minutes, striking a balance for project-based learning.
Project-based learning is an educational approach that integrates real-world experiences into the curriculum.
During the newly introduced common prep hour, teachers will collaborate to plan quarter-long projects incorporating each core class.
The staff aims to maximize every minute of the day, to reserve Fridays for club activities, sports practices or leisure time.
“Students will have more time to be a student,” Wong said. “They won’t have to cram everything in a day and have tons of homework every night.”
Wong asserted faculty members are committed to creating programs aimed at enriching the student experience.
Next year, A+ will introduce enrichment hours, offering students a range of activities, such as silent reading, art, meditation and table games.
And in the event of disciplinary issues, teachers have the option to assign students to work with a counselor.
“It’s super low stakes to give kids a brain break, to refresh and then increase their experience,” Wong said.
Additionally, A+ will partner with Helen’s Kitchen & Catering next year, catering fresh food daily.
Under the name “Helen’s Kitchen Archer Café,” students and staff will enjoy a meal priced at $6, including a main entrée, side dish and full salad bar. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will also be available.
Wong is excited to bring Helen’s passion into their community.
“Nutrition and kid’s health is just as important as anything,” Wong said. “It’s not only going to improve their academic performance, but their mood too.”
Looking ahead, the A+ staff eagerly anticipates the growth of their school.
“(Students) are going to have opportunities to do whatever they want,” Reese said. “Graduating in three years, getting your associate degree – in some way we can customize that and build personal relationships.”
Related stories: A+ Charter School hopes to expand to 6th grade, implement a four-day school week – InMaricopa