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Arts focused learning at area’s first charter school

Posted: July 26, 2017 - 2:16am
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School for Arts Infused Learning Superintendent Kristy Zgol (from left), Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ann Sturkey and Director of Student Services Michael Berg go over the final plans for the new charter school in a temporary office in a trailer at the school construction site.
School for Arts Infused Learning Superintendent Kristy Zgol (from left), Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ann Sturkey and Director of Student Services Michael Berg go over the final plans for the new charter school in a temporary office in a trailer at the school construction site.

Sixth-grade students who begin their first day of school at the new School for Arts Infused Learning charter school will also be the first high school graduating class, if all goes according to the school's plan.

The charter school is expecting to welcome 423 students on the school's first day, Aug. 16, as well as 25 teachers from surrounding school systems for kindergarten through sixth grades.

After working out of a temporary trailer at the school site off Blanchard Woods Road for most of the summer, administrators said they are excited about the opening of the unique school, which is the first charter school in the area.

SAIL School Superintendent Kristy Zgol touted the staff who will be coming to teach students at the school, including Broadway performer and Augusta native Russell Joel Brown to serve as the drama instructor.

"He's been performing for 14 years on the stage on Broadway," Zgol said. "He's an Augusta native and he's intrigued with what we are doing."

Other arts faculty include Lia Daniele, who has been with a dance company in New York, to head ballet and dance classes, and Rebecca Beaird from the Chicago School of the Arts to be the school's art teacher.

Zgol said two teachers and natives of Puerto Rico will teach Spanish classes, and the school has a sensei from Spain to teach karate. A special education teacher is also certified in American Sign Language.

The School for Arts Infused Learning charter school will have a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math focused curriculum.

"When you add art into that, then what you're talking about with your science is more of the design aspect," Zgol said. "So it's not just learning and knowing, it's actually designing, building, engineering."

In addition to the eclectic staff, the building is what Director of Student Services Michael Berg calls one-of-a-kind. Unique to the school are extended hallways, which will serve as collaboration spaces for the students just outside their traditional classrooms, equipped with large windows so teachers can still keep an eye on students.

"This is the custom design that the architect did for us. There are really no other schools that have hallways knocked out like this. The hallway's actually a classroom in itself," Berg said.

"That's definitely a feature that our teachers are excited about," said Ann Sturkey, director of curriculum and instruction. "With these windows here, they can continue their instruction and watch kids at the same time."

The school was constructed using materials designed to make the building as maintenance-free as possible, according to Facilities and Maintenance Director Mike Moon.

With traffic a concern for many in the already-congested areas surrounding the school on Hereford Farm and Washington Road, Berg said the school plans to conduct a drill for parents next week in order to prepare for the first day.

Cars will travel the long driveway around the 19-acre campus to keep traffic moving, according to Berg, who said that the school will also use an electronic dismissal system to help with traffic.

"You can see our loop road goes all around the back of the 19 acres, so we could probably fit a couple hundred cars on the property before we start spilling out, so we are hoping with that design that we will not have cars backed all the way out," Berg said.

Berg, Sturkey and Zgol said they are expecting all smiles on the first day of the new school year.

 

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