MSA is focused on S.T.E.A.M. activities, allowing students to concentrate on science, technology, engineering, arts and math to develop skills that will allow them to compete globally in those fields. The What’s Your Problem Fair is MSA’s signature activity where students solve a problem by conducting an experiment using the scientific method. The climate and culture of MSA is a product of the Caring School Community model to:
• Make learning social by allowing students to do the talking and personally reinforce the learning while also communicating their thoughts in writing.
• Engage students via class partners rather than calling on them one at a time. Students are required to report what their partner says to work on their listening as well as speaking and communication skills.
• Engagement Coaches are used in lieu of school police officers as a means to serve as coaches/mentors rather than disciplinarians. The program has resulted in MSA being awarded the Best Practices in Character Development Award.
• The Alternatives to Violence Prevention model is is a central way to establish a positive culture so students feel safe and connected within a community that suffers from high crime rates. (As a result of the turnaround work at MSA, the neighborhood has seen the lowest crime rate in 5 years. Captain Vogt of the 24th Police District credits MSA with this accomplishment).
• Extracurricular programs include varsity and junior varsity sports , arts, music, news broadcasting, culinary arts, dance and fashion design.
• Innovative school-wide activities include investiture ceremonies, a trip to Montreal, College Settlement Camp, No Excuses University, Heritage Festival, Peace Rally, Move up Day and Parent & Child cooking club provided by Sunday Suppers.
MSA believes that community involvement is an essential component to school culture. The School Advisory Council is a group of Parents and community members who participate in school activities and meet monthly to discuss school related events, concerns, and celebrations.
• The success of MSA is based upon the former test scores from the Jones Middle School and the understanding that the same students that attended that school now attend MSA. Although test scores are problematic, MSA has adopted a new reading program that will provide extensive opportunities for students to become better readers by allowing them to read at their current independent reading levels, and set progress goals from there.
• An anonymous fifth grade summary from all American Paradigm Schools found:
85% of students feel safe at school
96% plan to attend college
92% that an adult in their school cares about their success
100% of teachers have high expectations
97% of teachers feel that they are making a difference
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