First piloted at Apache Elementary this school year, Shawnee Mission’s innovative school program shifts away from the traditional elementary model toward one that prioritizes integration of different subjects into team-based projects, flexible scheduling, and greater parent involvement. Next school year, Rising Star Elementary in Lenexa will become the second innovative school. Both schools have above average concentrations of free-and-reduced lunch program enrollees as well as ELL students.
The district says it based its innovative school model on the educational philosophy of Willard Daggett, PhD. Daggett, who delivered a lecture that was broadcast to district employees in November 2015, has championed a model he calls the “rigor and relevance framework” that stresses the importance of relationships between students and teachers, setting high expectations, and giving students the opportunity to challenge themselves and study the subjects that interest them most.
“The goal of reconstituting Rising Star is to develop a transformative elementary school setting for students currently residing in the Rising Star attendance boundary,” said Shawnee Mission Director of Communication Erin Little in an email. “A comprehensive design process will be applied to achieve a school culture resulting in increased student achievement, while also enriching the social and emotional experience for all students.”
As was the case with the transition at Apache, teachers had to reapply for positions at the school for the coming year. Reassignments will be announced to teachers not returning to Apache for the 2017-18 school year no later than April 1.
Pam Lewis and Kevin Hansford, the district directors of elementary services who led the innovative school transition at Apache and will be overseeing it at Rising Star as well, each received a $10,000 administrative stipend from the school district in January.