“The biggest thrill is to hear kids say things like ‘learning is fun,’ and ‘I like finding information and doing something with it,’ ” reports a 6th grade science teacher. This teacher’s excitement joins a choir of praise for the impact of an initiative that has transformed Sarasota County middle schools.
The vision was hatched in 2009, when philanthropic and school district leaders realized middle schools classrooms were not preparing students for jobs of the future. What transpired can only be described as monumental and completely transformative. Teachers have changed the way they prepare and deliver instruction, students collaborate in teams to complete assignments and technology is at the center of learning.
The initiative to re-design middle schools is called 21st Century Schools and was led by Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Schools and many community partners. These partners invested $18-million over nine years to reshape instruction and learning in all 300+ middle school classrooms.
The teachers who made this all possible were recently honored at a celebration marking the culmination of the classroom transformation. Go here to see photos from the event.
The impacts on student achievement and teacher satisfaction are documented in the report, “Who Hates Leaving Middle School.” Practical lessons learned are also shared in the hopes other districts will replicate this successful initiative.