Rhodes Junior High School in Mesa started the pilot Rhodes to Success Program this year involving 300 students in seventh and eighth grades, participating in integrated curriculum centered around a semester-long project. The students’ projects will be shown at the school’s Rhodes to Success Fall Exhibition tomorrow.
“The intent of the program was to help students see the connection between their academic subjects and the content in them,” said Patricia Christie, principal at Rhodes. “And each semester the students will participate in some sort of project-based learning activity. It just happens that this semester that project-based activity is related to community service for Rhodes Junior High School, so the kids have been coming up with projects that help beautify the campus and improve the aesthetics of the school.”
Some are art-based projects such as aesthetic enhancements to the junior high campus that include wall murals and painted benches, while others focus on gardens and plants.
Christie said the teachers started preparing in January 2017 to implement the pilot program this fall – 150 students are assigned to a team of seven teachers for seventh grade and 150 for eighth grade.
“I think teachers were concerned about the lack of time they have with kids,” Christie said, so she went to her leadership team last month and suggested creating a program where “teachers and students could spend as much time as they needed to with each other depending upon their academic needs, then that turned into Rhodes to Success.”
The program focuses on incorporating all subjects into the projects, from social studies and math, to CTE, ELA and science. Students utilize critical and creative thinking skills, collaboration, media literacy, accountability and self-direction in conjunction with their classes to plan, prepare and create their projects.
“What we intended to do was to combine all the academic classes into this project,” Christie said. “This involved students writing a proposal, which incorporated English and ELA.”
She explained that students spoke with their social studies teachers about what community service is and how they can give back to their school, and math and science included taking measurements and determining supplies to create and complete projects.
“It’s a pretty cool experience to see kids from the very start to the very finish involving all of their academic subjects,” Christie said, adding that new projects for the program will be selected in January, and another exhibition will take place in the spring.
“This is a pilot program, so we’re testing out what needs to happen in order for this to be successful for kids…the future of that could be a variety of different things, either we maintain the two cohorts of the students that will be participating in the seventh and eighth grade, and students will rotate through the RTS program, seventh grade will go into eighth grade, I think there is a possibility of that expanding, but we want to make sure that we have all that we need for us to make good choices for any future programs at Rhodes.”
Don’t miss the Rhodes to Success fall exhibition on Dec. 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Rhodes Junior High School, 1860 S. Longmore. For more Information, visit: mpsaz.org.
– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.