GSA’s aspiration is to become a school that is a recognized model of success for a diverse population of urban learners. GSA students will have access to rich and extensive educational learning opportunities through inquiry-based, hands-on classroom science, math activities, and engineering initiatives and will use current technology to collect and analyze informative data. The school will provide an environment where students, teachers and families find the Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians in themselves through leadership and advancement in the No Excuse model while utilizing the whole child approach.
Gateway STEM Academy (GSA) primary purpose is to improve all pupils learning and all student achievement, by creating inclusive STEM schools which will help its students build the skills they will need to succeed and excel in high school, college and careers. Quality will be assured by adoption of strategies that have proven successful in other “no excuses” charter schools serving similar demographics, and students’ social needs will be addressed through a whole child approach to education as advocated by ASCD in its Whole Child Initiative. GSA will also address the five additional purposes of charter schools:
- Increase learning opportunities for all pupils: GSA will increase learning opportunities and support educational equity by providing a high quality STEM education for currently under-served populations, in a part of the Twin Cities Metro that currently lacks educational alternatives. Moreover, GSA will increase learning opportunities by providing a longer than typical school year (180 days) and school day (seven hours).
- Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods: GSA teachers will regularly use flexible grouping, cooperative groups, hands-on experiences, problem solving, justification of thinking through science notebooks, academic choice activities and extracurricular electives that allow all students the opportunity to practice skills based on their cognitive styles, individual ability, and interests. Also, the STEM focus at the early grades is different from typical elementary school approaches, but we believe justified as part of an effort to engage children’s interest early on, in the STEM fields.
- Measure learning outcomes and create different and innovative forms of measuring outcomes: GSA will regularly measure students’ academic progress by collecting data through test scores, regular observations, walk through and formative and summative assessments. GSA will set SMART goals defining expected progress as a school for each year of operation.
- Establish new forms of accountability for schools: this will be accomplished through academic and other goals specified in GSA’s contract with its Authorizer.
- Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site: GSA will train, motivate and empower its teachers, as they are expected to be the primary source of students’ achievement. Teachers will enjoy professional opportunities including serving on GSA’s on leadership team and on school committees that plan for an effective learning environment for all students.