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June 19,2017 - Organizers: Babcock Neighborhood School will be different
Sun-Herald.com

By SOMMER BROKAW

June 18,2017

STAFF WRITER

 

BABCOCK RANCH — A charter school in the new solar-powered town of Babcock Ranch is coming to life.

Principal Shannon Treece has hired eight teachers for the school’s first 156 students in grades K-6, who are expected to walk through the doors Aug. 10.

A temporary building to house the school’s initial class was built in less than a year. The plan is to expand to seventh grade with seven or eight portables the following school year, Treece said.

By 2019, there should be two permanent buildings, one serving K-8 and one serving grades 9-12.

Babcock Neighborhood School is located in Babcock Ranch off State Road 31 in Charlotte County.

Signs approaching the school read: “America’s first solar-powered town.”

Developer Kitson and Partners retained Collaborative Educational Network, a consulting firm, to create the school.

Curriculum is based on a “greenSTEAM” concept: “green” for a focus on creative, project-based learning assignments within the ranch’s green spaces, lakes and trails; and “STEAM” for a focus on teaching science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

The classrooms are 800 square feet, larger than the typical classroom of 600 square feet, because more space is needed for project-based learning, Treece said.

Christine Carey is one of the two teachers who moved to the new school from Charlotte County Public Schools. The other teacher from Charlotte County is Tiffany Bishop.

Carey has been a teacher for 12 years, 10 of them in Charlotte County, with her last job at Liberty Elementary School.

Along with Bishop, she wrote a grant for “chicks in the classroom.”

“We were able to raise chicks from an egg to chicks,” said Carey, who will teach kindergarten at BNS. “We also did gardening. We wrote a proposal, and we had a beautiful garden at our school, and I just wanted more for my students.

“When I found out about Babcock Neighborhood School, and I found out it was a place-based environment for children, that just got me so excited,” Carey said. “Place-based learning has to do with teaching through the environment, so we’re going to be working at Babcock, which is a preserve, and we’re going to be able to provide an educational experience through the land — through working with the environment, and then working with the community as well. And it’s like a field trip every day.”

Lori McLain is another teacher hired for the new school. McLain has about seven years of experience combined teaching at charter schools in Cape Coral. She said the Oasis Middle School and Oasis High School she taught at previously also emphasized hands-on, project-based learning, which allows for creativity and innovation.

At BNS, she said she will teach elementary science, robotics and mechanical engineering and a sixth-grade entrepreneurship program.

She is excited about partnering with Cape Coral Technical College to show off its surgical technology program to BNS students. She said demonstration tables will be set up to show skills like “suturing” and “how they’ve been plating bones.”

“It’s just abuzz because everybody’s so excited about getting into this new program,” McLain said. “It’s the excitement of not just going into a new building, but being able to have curriculum pretty open to new ideas.”

Email: sbrokaw@sun-herald.com