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7/17/2012 10:11:00 AM
Stilo donates iPads to Grand Canyon Schools
School administrators continue to make changes to scheduling and curriculum prior to Aug. 14 start date
Grand Canyon School Principal Toby Melster discusses adjustments to curriculum and scheduling for the upcoming school year. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Grand Canyon School Principal Toby Melster discusses adjustments to curriculum and scheduling for the upcoming school year. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Ryan Williams
Managing Editor

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Grand Canyon School administrators continue to grapple with how to transition from the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP), focused on 11-16 year olds, to a new curriculum. In the second of three parent informational meetings, new principal Toby Melster and superintendent Sharyl Allen addressed some parents' concerns regarding proposed changes.

"I want to tell you I'm excited, I'm thrilled and I'm enthused about what is happening here at the school and what we're getting ready to do throughout the year," Melster said.

Before Melster delved into curriculum and scheduling shifts he announced that Stilo Group, the developer behind a proposed housing, retail and lodging project in Tusayan, will donate enough Apple Ipads for all students.

Melster said a $40-50 yearly insurance fee will likely be required for students to use an iPad throughout the year.

Grand Canyon School parent Suzanne Pearce said she was concerned that educational opportunities would become limited by a family's ability to pay for the iPad each year.

Melster said administration is still working out just how to make the technology available to all students regardless of income.

"The idea is we try to make it so that every kid has the opportunity," he said.

At this point, exactly how the iPads will be used in class has yet to be determine but Melster said it will likely be at each teacher's discretion.

Schedule adjustments

Two teachers, one male and one female will now supervise PE classes, with two class sections underway at one time split by gender.

Sixth grade students will participate in PE separate from seventh and eighth grades students.

"They may be in the gym at the same time but they may separate them, they may join activities together but that will be up to the teachers at that point. But what it will do is ensure that there is a male teacher at the boys locker room and a female teacher at the girls locker room," Allen said.

The Phantom Period will remain a part of the school day schedule.

"We've looked at that and tried to figure out how to make it work the best that we can," Melster said.

A parent in attendance asked if the Phantom Period did not work well, would it remain in following years?

"I'm always willing to re-evaluate," Melster said. "That's important. But, understand that that evaluation is going to come from the input of the teachers, to some extent the students and of course parent input. Understanding that I'm going to be part of that final decision. It's important to get the input. My focus is, how is this affecting the kids?"

Another parent concern voiced during the meeting was whether middle school students would continue to move from class to class or stay in one classroom with teachers rotating instead in an effort to deal with problematic student interaction between classes.

Suzanne Pearce said she and many other middle school parents were not fond of the idea.

"We felt like the problem should be dealt with and not just sweep it under the rug and force the kids to stay in the room," she said.

"I've had so many conversations in the last few weeks about numerous things, ok," Melster said. "That particular conversation does not stick out in my mind. But understand, if the decision was made to keep the kids in the room, I'm confident that that is because we feel that is best for the kids."

School will begin at 8:25 a.m. this year, with the cafeteria open from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. with breakfast served.

"This area will be supervised so your kids have a place to be," Allen said.

School buildings will open at 8:15 a.m. Allen said the schedule change allows for more staff collaboration time before the start of the school day.

"By just making that adjustment, it allows our staff to get a good 45 minutes in the morning to work on critical issues that will help your kids," Allen said.

A third and final meeting will be held Aug. 2. Ipads will again be discussed from 5:30-6 p.m. with a K-12 parent meeting and potluck from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Grand Canyon School multipurpose room.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Article comment by: BD McGaw (not McGraw)

As an area resident I'm happy to have my tax money sent to the school. I see education of the next generation as probably the most important role of society, but throwing politics and commercial interests into the mix pollutes the education that is available. Perhaps Stilo will bring people to the community who have children and are interested in helping the school improve, but now I see them as much the same as the Park Service in its current state- no upper management has any investment in the school, they just want the school to agree with their decisions.

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Article comment by: TO BD MCGRAW

The only thing the current School Board is good for is to spend tax money...other peoples - we need new people leading the school board, sanitary district, town gov. chamber etc. Our current leadership has consistently served us poorly. I just hope Stilo brings new faces to the area and doesn't recyle the current ones

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Article comment by: Eric Sorensen

Yes, but the ipads only come in the Italian version! Even the school sells it soul to the devil.

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: no doubt

The stilo ipads are another gift to the voters there is no doubt, but what have the thurstsons (fains), or anyone else ever done for the people here?

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: BD McGaw

Stilo has the money to attempt to buy the school, I don't see any of their members sitting on the board and making actual decisions though.

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: Good Move

the stilo ipads are more then either the thurstons or halvorsens have done in the past ' Bravo

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