Successful Academy Model Adds Middle Schools

APS Middle School Enhancements Coming
Posted on 12/01/2020
Image of APS LogoAkron Public Schools Board of Education approved a five-year middle school master plan Monday night. The new roadmap promises to transform the way students experience sixth through eighth grades, in much the way high school College & Career Academies of Akron has done in the past three years. The new middle school plan will expose students to as many career options as possible and work on exercising their social and emotional skill sets.

This plan differs from the high school model by working with the nonprofit community instead of the business community. Students will be exposed to philanthropy, how the nonprofit community works to raise money, distribute food and provide housing. Importantly, the focus will be on what kinds of employment opportunities exist in nonprofits.

Also, students will be given a greater role with input into their own learning and will be asked by their nonprofit partners to help with solutions to certain issues facing them. (Students will have planned visits to that nonprofit’s operations.)

“We know this will make middle school learning more interesting, more fun and more relevant, just as we’ve done at our high schools,” said Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., chief academic officer for APS.

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In the new middle school model at Akron Public Schools:

Learning will be more focused on projects, hands-on activities and problem solving than sitting in a classroom lecture or learning from a textbook. The idea is to change the culture so students have more of a voice in learning.

Social and emotional learning will be emphasized with a focus heavily on building students' skills and learning how to collaborate. As in the academies in our high schools, the goal is for students to be ready when they meet with a community member from a nonprofit so they can get the most out of those experiences.

Akron Public Schools wishes to express gratitude to this project's partners in education. The district received grants for this work, including $1.5 million each from the Hewlett Foundation and from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. The funds will actually pass through United Way for use by APS. APS also received $500,000 over five years from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, to help with the master planning of the middle school transformation. The Akron Community Foundation will provide one staff member to be a "broker" between the nonprofits and the schools.

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