Love Your School is pleased to introduce the next recipient of the A for Arizona Expansion and Innovation Fund Small Learning Communities (SLC) grant, Patagonia Elementary School! At Love Your School, we’re all about celebrating the unique and individualized options available to families, including these new communities.

Patagonia Elementary School is a public school south of Tucson in the Patagonia area serving students K-8. Patagonia Elementary School is part of Patagonia Public School District #6. 

What inspired this school to launch an SLC? Here’s the story. 

Like many schools across the country, the impact of COVID-19 is being felt disproportionately by low-income, Hispanic, and African-American students. The remote Southern Arizona town of Patagonia has seen achievement gaps only widen since the onset of the pandemic. This data made it clear to education leaders that the school needed to rethink how learning opportunities were structured for this year and beyond.

Patagonia Elementary is identified as a Title I school with 73 percent of students receiving free and reduced cost meals. The majority of the student population is composed of minority students, including Hispanics and African-Americans. Most Patagonia students have experienced between two and four adverse childhood experiences (such as abuse, neglect, and depression) and 26 percent of Patagonia have incomes below the poverty level. 

Supported by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund and the A for Arizona Small Learning Community grant, Patagonia Elementary is launching scalable, STEM-focused learning pods. This after-hours program will host 10 students at no cost with virtual options to remove geographic barriers for rural families. 

This creative STEM program will utilize expert math and science teachers and reverse engineering approaches to ensure students are exceeding standards of academic progress and closing the achievement gap. 

These learning pods will be placed in strategic locations to better address gaps in student success, including enhanced creative problem-solving skills, increased knowledge of math, science, and engineering. This program will also emphasize greater empathy for community challenges and improved presentation skills.

Patagonia Elementary has ambitious plans to scale this STEM program to Cochise and Santa Cruz counties if successful. The goal is to provide greater access to rigorous education and stimulating learning opportunities to rural areas. 

Patagonia Elementary School has partnered with the University of Arizona School of Mathematical Sciences and the Mat Bevel Company to bring this unique STEM program to life. 

Love Your School is inspired by the creative spirit of Arizona’s education leaders. Schools like Patagonia Elementary have stepped up to the plate during these challenging times to bring your family some of the best educational opportunities in Arizona. We look forward to continuing our work with outstanding organizations like A for Arizona and Governor Ducey to promote these unique and exciting SLCs. 

Live in the Patagonia area? Think this program might be a fit for your child? Check it out! Interested in launching an SLC at your local school? Apply and inquire here

Stay tuned for our next school – Gowan Science Academy!