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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA to collaborate with charter school for low-income students

    The UA is partnering with a new charter school for low-income middle school students in South Tucson that is set to open in August.

    The Wildcat School began as a nonprofit organization in the summer of 2005, said Jaimie Leopold, the Wildcat School project manager.

    “”Just about every college at the university will be involved,”” Leopold said, adding that UA students will have the opportunity to be involved with student teaching, mentoring and tutoring of the Wildcat School students.

    The charter school project will give UA faculty and students the opportunity to develop ways to improve secondary education and teacher preparation, said Walter Doyle, a UA professor involved with the creation of the school.

    The Wildcat School will use curriculum centered on group projects with an emphasis on science and mathematics, Doyle said.

    “”We’re hoping to use the school as a kind of resource for developing ways to teach those populations and make those approaches available to other schools in Tucson,”” Doyle said. “”We hope it can become a regional resource for all districts in the area.””

    When student recruitment for the Wildcat School tentatively begins later this month, Leopold said, organizers will work with groups in low-income communities to recruit students from low-income families.

    The school will start with about 160 seventh- and eighth-grade students, adding a grade each subsequent year through 12th grade, Doyle said.

    Though no site has been chosen for the Wildcat School, Doyle said he believed it would be located in South Tucson.

    Debra Tomanek, a professor for the College of Science’s teacher preparation program, said the partnership will provide numerous opportunities for the university.

    “”It’s an opportunity for faculty members in the College of Science to become more connected with middle school and high school science and math education,”” Tomanek said. “”And it’s an opportunity to influence the development of a population of kids who have not historically been represented at the university.””

    She said the partnership is one that would be difficult to accomplish with a public school district.

    “”Its an opportunity for the university to study how teaching and learning in science and math can be accomplished,”” Tomanek said.

    While the school is still a state-funded public school and must meet the state’s educational standards, it “”proposes an alternative route to meeting those standards,”” Doyle said.

    Leopold said the UA collaboration with the Wildcat school will allow UA departments an “”opportunity to focus on outreach.””

    She said the collaboration also helps the UA fulfill its service mission to support the Tucson community as a land-grant university.

    The planning for the development of the Wildcat School began in the spring of 2004, when the College of Education received a grant to conduct a feasibility study of the creation of a science- and math-based charter school in Tucson, Leopold said.

    Leopold said the study resulted in the charter application that was approved by the Arizona State Board of Charter Schools in January.

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