MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- Imagine working on a school project that actually changes the school. Some art students at Middleton Alternative Senior High, or "MASH," have a hand in redesigning their building because next year, it will turn into Clark Street Community School.
The new charter school will be project-based. That's where students can take an idea and eventually turn it into a product or design piece. They will base these projects around their community - called "place-based education" and they will have a say in what and how they learn - called democratic education.
English teacher Bryn Orum explains how it might work in her classroom. "Right now they write a paper and hand it in and I grade it and give it back to them. I'd like to give students an opportunity for their writing to make a difference in something they care about. For it to be published somewhere where people will really read it. I think in doing that students are going to care a lot more about writing than they currently do where it just comes to me and goes back to them."
So that art and design project students are working on now will actually come to fruition.
One MASH student who is creating a non-profit for homeless families - on her own time - can focus her education around it next year. Principal Jill Gurtner says, "And to be able to talk to her and say, 'You know, in this new school, you can do this as part of school. you don't have to try to do all your school work and do this on the side.' And we have lots of kids who are living these lives, who have these amazing interests and school just seems like something they have to do."
While Gurtner says this model does help students who struggle in traditional schools, it's not just for them. One parent we talked to, Greg Simmons, is sending his youngest child to Clark Street next year to prepare him for the real world. "I'm the CEO of a company and been in business world for 30 some years and the people that do well are the ones who know how to collaborate, know how to advocate for themselves, know what real inquiry is and how to appreciate others."
MASH will reopen as Clark Street Community School this fall. The Middleton-Cross Plains school board approved the change in January.
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