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School Name – Prenda Schools
School Address – San Carlos, Arizona
Phone Number / or Email for inquiries – (480) 204-3131 or [email protected]
How long has your school been open? – January 2019
About how many children are served? – 6 Students
What grades does your school currently offer? – 2nd-8th Grades
How did your school begin, and what are some of the reasons it was started?
The micro school in San Carlos, Arizona was started because of the lack of school choice options on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation which also happens to be the tribe I am from and enrolled in. The public school system currently has only “F” rated schools while at the same time receives between $15,000-$20,000 in combined state and federal funding per student, so lack of funding isn’t necessarily the problem in this school district. I hosted a backpack giveaway in the community with my former employer, Americans for Prosperity alongside the organization American Federation for Children last summer. When we had over 200 parents and students at our event to learn more about school choice options we knew the community was ready for other educational options. From there the plan to open the micro school was in motion and we launched our class in January of this year.
What types of students or communities does your school serve?
Our school in San Carlos, Arizona serves the tribal community of the San Carlos Apache people but is open to all students who want to learn! Since our class is part of Prenda Schools, Prenda has various micro schools across the state and in metro Phoenix. So a wide variety of populations are served by Prenda Schools.
Why do you personally feel your school is a great option for Arizona families?
Our school provides a safe, self-directed learning environment where students are given the autonomy to learn at their own pace while still being able to collaborate with their peers. Our classes are small, normally 12 students maximum, with a supportive “teacher” who we call “guides” in our model of school.
What makes your school unique, and how do you meet the unique needs of your students?
Our students are given autonomy and flexibility to learn at their pace. Students are encouraged to discover and learn about subjects that interests them. Many students work ahead in their projects and those who need additional help or support receive that from their guide.
What makes your school a place that teachers want to be at?
Just like the students, our guides are provided autonomy and flexibility to direct their class. Our guides can set the hours of when their class meets to be flexible for the students in their classroom. Since most of our classes meet in private homes, our guides use this opportunity to have flexibility in their day to work but also stay at home.
What does a day in the life of a typical student at your school look like?
Most of our classes start around 8AM and go until 1PM. We have a few classes that start later. Students usually arrive to the class and go into Conquer mode, this is where they do online standard grade level coursework in programs like Khan Academy. Then students go into Collaborate mode, where they can work on group or team projects, research subjects and topics together, and have group discussions or debates. Then if time permitting, students go into Bonus mode which is where they can continue to work on group projects or individualized learning or individual projects they may have. Since our classes are only half a day, students and guides can then do afternoon field trips. There is no homework so students never have the pressure of doing schoolwork at home.
If your school is private, what types of scholarships or financial assistance do you have for families?
Our school is tuition free and technically we operate as a charter. However since we have micro schools in very specific population groups, some of our schools receive financial assistance through the state’s Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account Program. If a student is interested in attending a Prenda micro school we will make it happen!
What are some of the characteristics you would say describe the students / environment at your school?
Autonomy, self-directed, group collaboration, individualized learning, mentoring from guide, small class size, safe environment, and encouragement to explore and create projects.
What is something you’d like to make sure we know about your school, or something that you would like prospective families to know?
Our program is meant for students and families who want to try something new and where just being fine is not good enough. Our students come from various backgrounds but all of our students have one thing in common, they all want to do better. Be a better reader, be a better mathematician, be a better learner, and that is what we are looking for, students and families who want to raise their child to be a lifelong learners.
Why do you feel that school choice / educational freedom is important for Arizona families?
It is absolutely important, especially in communities where choice is lacking or almost non-existent. While choice may be abundant in metro areas like Phoenix in many rural communities school choice is not an option. It is important to continue to advance school choice policies in Arizona to give students and families a chance to pick the best educational opportunity for their child. Our state is well ahead many other states when it comes to educational options but more can be done and more must be done to protect the progress that school choice efforts have already made.
What’s the best way for families to talk to someone if they are interested in your school? Who should they contact?
Families can contact me directly through my cell or via email. They can also visit our website at www.prendaschool.com or contact me directly via @Jeremiah Cota on Twitter or Facebook. I love to connect with families and students who are interested in either enrolling their child into a micro school or interested in starting one up!