The community of Walton, Kansas, has embraced a charter school as a tool for designing an educational program that is meaningful in their distant rural town.
Using a charter school grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Walton 21st Century Rural Life Center has fully integrated agriculture and project-based learning throughout its curriculum and established partnerships between local farms.
But agriculture is only one of many possible career paths for students at Walton, said Principal Natise Vogt. They learn science while raising chickens and gathering eggs, math and angles while making planter boxes, and both literacy and computer skills while researching wind energy generated by the turbine outside their windows.
Walton has used the flexibility of the charter program in innovative ways to add relevance to the curriculum for his rural students. Students learn by making tangible connections between their education, the community, and the larger global economy. As a result, Walton has seen community involvement and pride increase—along with higher test scores.
“Kids can be excited about learning, and want to learn when what they’re learning makes sense to them,” said Principal Vogt.
The President’s fiscal year 2011 budget requests a $54 million increase in the Charter School Grants Program, seeking $310 million and representing another step toward meeting the Administration’s commitment to double financial support for the program. Where it makes sense, grants from the charter schools program can serve as a tool for innovation in rural communities.
John White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
More information about the Charter Schools Program is available from the Education Department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/charter/index.html.
Watch a video telling the story of this compelling rural charter school.
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