Parents of children in kindergarten through fourth grade in Marana can look forward to the start of the after-school program at Open Doors Community School.
The school, located at 13644 N. Sandario Road, is slated to begin the program in August. Currently under renovation, ODCS occupies space in what was formerly the Marana Health Center.
The school will open in two phases: After-school care next month, and the inauguration of the academic charter school in August next year.
Parents can register their children free of charge into after-school care by calling Arizona Youth Partnership at 744-9595. The after-school program will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
Enrollment is fixed to 50 students, with spaces still open for the upcoming year.
When the school opens the academic portion next year, enrollment will be capped at 300 students. Class size will be limited to 25 students. On average, there will be one teacher for every 21 students.
According to Kimberly Danley, curriculum director and lead teacher at ODCS, the school’s goal is to remove barriers to learning. A child might have vision, hearing or emotional problems that must be addressed before he can be successful in school, she said.
By partnering with public and private organizations within the community, ODCS can provide resources beneficial to students and their families. Consequently, the success of ODCS is dependent upon support from the Arizona Youth Partnership (AzYP) program, which consists of Tucson and Marana community members committed to making a difference in the lives of young people, especially troubled youth and those living in rural areas.
The aim of AzYP members is to pair teen pregnancy, substance abuse and similar programs with academics, and manifest that objective in a smaller learning environment.
ODCS and AzYP work together to give kids a good start in life, Danley said.
According to Maryanne Fout, AzYP community program director, the partnership was incorporated in Pima County in 1990 and spread throughout Arizona by 2006.
It’s common to see support for community schools in urban areas, according to Danley. What makes ODCS different is that it is a rural school receiving that support.
“Not a lot of previous work has been done in rural areas,” Danley said. “School is a hub not only for academics but for other concerns. That’s what a community school stands for. It helps with the effects. It’s about the whole person, not just the student’s academic self. It’s about culture. How kids see themselves.”
The curriculum will guide students to implement daily positive actions and to set and chart goals. It will include conflict management, healthy communication and self-advocacy.
“The motivation has to be intrinsic. All this starts in the after-school program,” Danley said.
ODCS teachers practice differentiated instruction within core knowledge instruction because students do not enter school with the same educational foundation.
“ODCS takes them from where they’re at,” she said. “All are taught the same skills but at different levels.
“Content knowledge is all the same whether students are reading at a seventh-grade level or a second-grade level. The reading texts will be adjusted to the students reading level,” Danley explained.
Learning becomes meaningful to students who have core knowledge because it can be integrated with other lessons, Danley said.