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Public Charter School Turning Out Great Students | News

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Public Charter School Turning Out Great Students
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LAS VEGAS -- Public charter schools are becoming a popular alternative for a growing number of Las Vegas parents who want a more unique and individualized learning experience for their children, without the pricey private school tuition.

The Explore Knowledge Academy teaches grades kindergarten through 12th to more than 600 students. There's a waiting list to get in, and it is about to become the state's first and only i-school campus. Not bad for a school that was created eight years ago in the kitchen of a Las Vegas family who home-schooled their kids because they wanted something different.

At the academy, you won't find students sitting in any nice neat rows of desks listening to a teacher lecture at a chalkboard.

"What you are going to see are engaged active students," said Abbe Mattson, Executive Director of Explore Knowledge Academy.

The academy is a free public charter school. Like any traditional public school, it's funded by the state and subject to the same testing, teaching, and curriculum standards.

"What makes us unique is our project-based learning. We are the only project-based school in southern Nevada," said Mattson.

The charter school's executive director says most of the learning is accomplished through hands-on projects and activities.

"They do a lot more projects here and you can pick your own projects," said sixth grade student Bella Chung.

Chung attended a traditional public school up until fourth grade, where she remembers there being a lot more students, more cliques, more peer pressure, and more gossip. She likes the academy much better.

So does Jeffery Keyer, a highly-qualified teacher by Clark County School District standards, but chose to become an advisor at the academy, where his own children attend.

"Students who like a little more freedom to be creative and choice thrive here," he said.

Multi-aged grade levels and individually-paced learning is stressed, along with parental involvement. Parent Ben Childs says the school's unique approach has taught his three children to love learning.

"They're saying, 'I go to school and before I know it, it's time to go home,' and I am so happy to hear that because it means they've been engaged all day," he said.

The academy has all kinds of students, including special needs and high achieving and has made Adequate Yearly Progress every year since it opened.

Starting next year, the charter school will become the state's first i-school campus, outfitted with the latest computers, smart boards, and other high-tech educational electronics, all provided by Apple Computers.

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