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Posted August 28, 2017

Welcome to the LZ!

In her weekly message, Supt. Reedy explains Learning Zones.

By now, I’m guessing you are back in the groove of things. It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of the first week of school!

By now, I’m also guessing you may have heard about what we’re calling Learning Zones – maybe at a staff meeting or on social media or in the news.

In case you haven’t heard, I wanted to fill you in on this new organizational approach we’re taking this school year with a goal of making education more personal.

APS, as you know, is a large urban school district. And there are some real advantages to being large – we have more resources, more choices, more opportunities as well as economies of scales.

Our students, for the most part, all want the same basic things from their education: to read, write and solve problems; to graduate with skills that prepare them for successful and happy lives; to feel safe and comfortable.

Even though they share similar goals, the path our students take might look a little different depending on what part of town they live in. Education shouldn’t be one size fits all, which is why we’re taking this more personalized pre-K to graduation approach to education.

This has been a work in progress. It began when I first became acting superintendent a couple of years ago.

That’s when we went on what we called a listening tour – meeting with the community, with parents, teachers, business owners and, yes, students to find out what they wanted from their education.

We took that input and developed the Academic Master Plan with a vision of engaging students in high quality, community responsive schools.

The plan started with three goals:

  • Early Learning
  • College & Career Readiness
  • Developing the Whole Child.

We quickly realized that these goals are much more achievable if students are in school every day and families are involved, so we added

  • Attendance and
  • Family and Community Engagement

Those are our priorities. We nicknamed them the Supt’s Big 5.

That’s our why. We then needed a how.

That’s where the Learning Zones – LZs for short – come in.

There are four LZs in APS, each made up of about 20,000 students in 35 or so schools. Each LZ has three high schools – except LZ4 which has four – along with their feeder schools.

Each has been assigned an associate superintendent – we jokingly call them Zone Heads – along with support staff. They will be on hand to support the schools and provide needed services on a daily basis. They’ll help with training, instruction, data collection and interpretation, technology, testing, special education and more. Schools in each LZ will learn from and support each other, too.

The LZs take a vertical approach to education. We’re looking at schools less as levels – elementary versus middle versus high – and more as a continuum of education that begins as pre-schoolers start learning their ABCs and ends with seniors walking across a stage to pick up their diploma.

Someone said being closer to the problem makes us closer to the solution. I like that. That’s what the LZs are all about.

Check out this video we put together on the LZs. I hope you enjoy it. Enjoy this weekend, too. You've earned it, and we have lots to do ahead of us. 

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