#RethinkSchool: From a Junkyard to a STAR School; STAR School Uses Navajo Cultural Values with STEM Projects to Overcome Challenges

Mark Sorensen was fed up with seeing Native American students score lower on standardized tests, graduate at lower rates and be less likely to pursue post-secondary education compared to other groups of students in the U.S.

He had a vision for a charter school that would provide the Native students in his community a culturally inclusive school environment that would motivate them, so he bought a junkyard.

STAR School, located on the edge of the Navajo Nation near Flagstaff, Arizona, serves 145 K-8 students and challenges their application of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to daily life.

Read More

Students Use Self-Directed Learning to Serve Their Community, One Foot at a Time

Surrounded by farm fields in rural Arkansas, Abby Simmons, Matthew Cook and Darshan Patel, 8th grade students at Armorel High School, completed a community based project that garnered national media attention earlier this year. They successfully printed a 3-D prosthetic foot for an Indian Runner Duck named Peg.

The high school students teach themselves how to use 3-D printers and run state-of-the-art software in for photography, design, video, music and virtual animation (just to name a few) under the guidance of Armorel High School teacher Alicia Bell.

“You can teach yourself how to do different software,” Simmons said, “or anything you would like to learn about.”

The students attending the rural school in the unincorporated community of Armorel are eager to help alleviate needs they discover in their community and school. They design solutions using technological tools and resources, while developing invaluable skills in critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration.

Read More

Rural Montana Students Become Citizen-Scientists through Place-Based Learning

Teacher Judy Boyle stands at a cooler containing water and small fish. She is holding a net and handing out fish two students standing at the cooler. In the background other students are releasing their fish into a lake.Six Montana students are warmed by a campfire with their teacher, Judy Boyle, and some of their parents who have come along on the ‘field study trip.’ The students, ranging from 1st to 7th grade, journal about the symbiotic relationships and geothermal features they observed and recorded during the day. Place-based education is one way Boyle enables her students to engage with science, their natural environment and community.

The Advantages of Being a Small, Rural School

Life in Divide, Montana, may look a little different from the norm in more populated areas. The two-room schoolhouse serves the six students enrolled at Divide Public School. On their commute to school, the Divide students and their teacher could be held up by a different kind of traffic – a herd of elk.

Read More