Edkey to open STEM-focused school in Eastmark - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Edkey to open STEM-focused school in Eastmark

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Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 8:00 am

A local charter-school organization will open its next charter school emphasizing STEM topics in Mesa’s Eastmark development.

Edkey Inc., which operates 16 Sequoia charter schools across the Valley, will build a new school, Sequoia Pathfinder Academy, to serve 400 kindergarten through sixth-grade students along Eastmark Parkway. The $6.5 million facility, located north of Ray Road, is scheduled to open for the 2014-15 school year in August.

The school’s emphasis is on subjects tied to STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, although students will have opportunities to take courses in music and art.

“STEM is at the heart of what we want to do and develop,” said Assistant Superintendent Tamara Becker.

Although Eastmark is still in the early years of its development, and EDKey CEO Doug Pike said the opportunity to become a member of such a new and growing area was attractive to the school.

“It’s really a neighborhood we want to be in,” added Superintendent Curt Cardine.

What makes the school a little different from others is the design, as the school won’t be quite like any other schools in the area. That’s because it’ll be far more akin to a children’s museum, one complete with interactive components and demonstrations organic to the facility’s common area and learning hallways.

Students can, in essence, walk through the halls and learn while doing so, which Cardine said lets the students think about their environment as they walk to and from class.

“The building itself has been a dream project of mine,” Cardine said.

Additionally, the school’s 18 classrooms all feature space for small group activities, as well as a cafeteria that will offer the National School Lunch Program. Other aspects of the project include a computer lab, a multipurpose room, an outdoor interactive learning playground, and a library in the student common area.

In the long run, Cardine said Pathfinder could enhance its educational opportunities for students by creating a direct link with neighboring Arizona State University’s Polytechnic Campus; Pike said Edkey has worked on similar agreements with Rio Salado College and Central Arizona College at other campuses. Doing so will give students direct access to post-secondary education — Sequoia Pathfinder would pay for the classes — that fits right in with their core STEM curriculum.

Sequoia Pathfinder will have a series of question and answer sessions for students prior to its opening, and enrollment for the first year has already begun. For more information about the sessions, or to register, visit sequoiapathfinder.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or emungenast@evtrib.com

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