The Main Stream

Jul 20, 2012 10:30 AM

Inside look at Vail's new laptop based middle school

VAIL, Ariz.- This week students in the Vail Unified School District headed back to the classroom and new to the district this year is Vail Blended Learning. It's a middle school, grades 6-8, that uses laptops as its main learning tool.

Eighth-grader Andrew Nelson is one of 54 students currently enrolled at Vail Blended Learning. "I'm looking forward to something different," Nelson says.

The new school offers the best of both worlds, technology and teacher interaction. "I really think it's going to be what we see the future of education," says Kelly Creasy, Vail's Coordinator of Digital Learning.

The school opened this week at a building which used to be a pizza parlor, near Houghton Road and Valencia Road. "We were look at our district's online program and we wanted to see how we could take it the next level," Creasy says.

Each student gets their own laptop for the year. It's not a new concept in Vail schools, but this is a little different. "I think the biggest difference is the amount of time they're online working on their four core classes, math, language arts, science and social studies," Creasy says. "We're using that computer piece to lay that foundational level of skill and you wouldn't see that in a traditional middle school."

It's kind of like being home schooled, except with a central place for learning. "When I have the laptop I can find something out about birds from Africa or something, where I wouldn't be able to do that at a normal school," Nelson says.

Students are only required to go to school Monday through Thursday. Fridays are optional, dedicated to field trips, or music and art lessons.

"We can be quiet and we can learn and not just have to go over something a million times and not learn anything all day," Nelson says.

There are room for about 90 students at the school. Students from Tucson are welcome.

For more information on how you can enroll your child, contact Kelly Creasy at creasyk@vail.k12.az.us

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