Las Vegas Weekly

September 12, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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LEADERSHIP ACADEMY OF NEVADA ou dwriting y ripty han tters ow, that sc u kn rint le etween p ursive? Yo rnating b wrote in c ught so. ur life alte time you e last Q. We tho ding yo fore spen tter yet, a hen was th be W ern or be me South ry school, capital G, elementa t in 2013, so a cursive learned in know tha ailing t so? Write ou to en m es. No surprise y an age wh oard strok to ursive, in ¶ Would it and keyb g a horse ill teach c ools st as ridin evada sch utmoded N nty ems as o Clark Cou a friend se called the a letter to us, so we cting their sed conne ? It surpri s are still his house ut, t why kid phased o to find ou trict e is being School Dis out cursiv turns Common Ys. And it tion's new Ps to their ted the na op D schools at have ad eans CCS 45 states th e, which m by is on , so we s. 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Mason ind … prov get beh this poin ations to we could ad applic ing on utilizing iP ke someth cer Patters nd. –Spen t sounds li ut it by ha style. Tha rite abo have to w we never SCHOOL WITH A ZOO? At local magnet schools and technical academies, students learn everything from architecture to medicine The Clark County School District's 25 magnet schools and technical academies draw high-achieving students interested in specialized programs that better prepare them for college or transition them right into careers. Schools boast unique offerings not just in math and sciences, but in aviation, biomedicine, finance, culinary arts and media, as well as high academic rankings. Here's a look at five outstanding schools, where hands-on learning takes students inside greenhouses, doctors' offices and yes, even a small "zoo." Independent but publicly funded, charter schools could be the next wave of Nevada education. There are 31, with more in the pipeline thanks to the support of the charter authority, which authorizes new charters and offers guidelines, technical assistance and other resources. While they must meet state requirements in order to receive state sponsorship and money, charter schools are freer to color outside the lines of the public establishment. But more choices don't count for much if the quality isn't there. A study published in June by Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes compared charter schools across 25 states, finding that Nevada's had the lowest standardized test scores among the 5,000 surveyed and lagged behind public schools by more than half a year when it came to learning milestones. That might explain the thriving homeschool network in Las Vegas, which Angie Kleven and Valerie Blake helped shape. In addition to overseeing the schooling of their own children (Kleven has three and Blake has five), they cotaught American history to others and took leadership roles in homeschool groups and clubs. The public system wasn't meeting their needs and, even without formal teacher training, they felt a DIY approach was worth the risk. With few public options, it also felt like the only way. Then they discovered Williamsburg Academy. Founded in 2008 as a private high school in Utah, it's now entirely online. The Williamsburg model emphasizes the Socratic method, classical literature, leadership and liberal arts. The student body spans 35 states (plus pockets in Canada and abroad), with standardized test scores above national averages in math and science and way above in English, reading and writing. Blake's son Andrew and Kleven's daughter Maura enrolled in 2009, and their moms were thrilled with the academic rigor, personalized mentoring and strong social values. Blake wanted more families to have that experience without the $3,500 tuition, so in 2011 she reached out to Williamsburg co-founder James Ure and local charter schools that might partner to offer the curriculum. Ure was delighted, but the schools didn't want to alter their agendas. Six months later the charter authority debuted, and Blake and Ure attended its first session together. Inspired by the state's resolve, Blake organized a committee to form a new WALTER BRACKEN STEAM ACADEMY WEST CAREER AND TECHNICAL ACADEMY Out of the more than 3,000 magnet schools represented by Magnet Schools of America, the professional organization selected Walter Bracken STEAM Academy's Kathleen Decker for its 2013 National Principal of the Year honor. Decker was recognized for transforming Bracken—one of the lowest-performing schools in the district—into a district success ranked in the top 5 percent. The elementary school's magnet program emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). Designated as a five-star school for the 2012-13 school year, WestCTA features programs including medical sciences, biotechnology, information and technology, digital art and media, nursing and environmental sciences. Students study a variety of plant species in its four greenhouses, using technology to simulate different climates. Pre-medical studies programs help students determine medical fields of interest and provide internships at local doctors' offices, and students can participate in Southern Hills Hospital's High School to Health Care Program. ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES ACADEMY Recognized twice as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, A-TECH emphasizes computers and technology with programs like architectural drafting and design, computer science, engineering, legal studies and web development. A-TECH 2013 graduate Paolo Vazquez took first place out of 226 students from 32 high schools in a national high school architectural competition (Chicago Architecture Foundation's DiscoverDesign) for his design transforming A-TECH's campus library, and the school's recognitions include nods from Intel, Magnet Schools of America and U.S. News & World Report. 20 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 12–18, 2013 18-21_Feature_20130912.indd 20 9/11/13 4:31 PM

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