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By Melissa N. Grangaard
Arizona Summer Wildcat
August 6, 1997

$9,000 grant creates an educational partnership

The Foothills Community School, in partnership with the University of Arizona's College of Education, is opening a free charter school for Pima County students incorporating an innovative educational environment with modern technology.

The school was awarded $9,000 from the state's Goals 2,000 Program, which made the partnership possible, George Gilman, chief educational officer said. About $5,000 of the total grant was awarded for technology, including video cameras, computers, and the Internet.

"The uniqueness here at Foothills Community School is we strive to create a community feeling, develop cooperative learning, and focus on real-life problems and problem-based learning," Gilman said.

Allowing students to learn from a variety of experienced individuals and receive different outlooks on the world is the focus of the partnership with the university, he said.

Interaction with university graduate and undergraduate students, as well as university-level professors, will also be a part of the curriculum at Foothills Community School.

Daniel Kirby, an education professor specializing in English literature and writing, will be one of the professors who will visit the school a couple of times a week.

Kirby will hold special writing workshops for the students enabling them to practice different writing skills.

A limited enrollment of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders will place 85 students into a challenging curriculum program, Gilman said. He said next year total enrollment will grow to 90 students.

Julie Thayer, a consultant working closely with the Foothills Community School said, school administrators are concerned that students at large public schools are not receiving individualized attention.

She said keeping enrollment low will allow students to receive more one-on-one teaching, and help them feel important while creating a comfortable family atmosphere.

Staff will include two teachers and two educational assistants.

In an effort to keep students motivated, Gilman said, they will be moving around all day to different educational workshops.

At the Foothills Community School, instead of following the traditional textbooks, students will also be working on a daily basis with the Internet and other computer technology.

In addition, Gilman said combining a variety of teachers and mentors into the school's purpose will develop strong leaders, creative thinkers, and responsible, self-directed learners out of the students.

"At Foothills Community School, students will develop realization of their importance in the larger global community and exercise their role as a contributing member in society," he said.

A counselor with more than 11 years of experience is also on staff at the Foothills Community School. Students will be encouraged to interact with the counselor regarding personal problems as well as academic concerns.

The objective here is that practicing mediation and peer relationships will improve the communication skills in all students, Gilman said.

Gilman said he appreciates the opportunity the university partnership has provided and believes this collaborative educational approach will be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

For more information the Foothills office can be reached at 323-2188.

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