Members of the Middleburg Charter Committee met with the School Board's Charter Review Committee Dec. 5 at Briar Woods High School.
For the first time, the two parties, along with county school staff met to discuss the proposed curriculum for the Middleburg Charter School.
As part of the meeting, Miriam Hughey-Guy, a consultant for the Middleburg Committee, attended and offered her expertise on the proposed Leonardo da Vinci Project Curriculum.
Hughey-Guy is the former principal of Barcroft Elementary School in Arlington. Using the da Vinci model enabled her students – most of whom came from low income families – to achieve the necessary educational standards.
The Leonardo da Vinci model is based on mixing history, art and science into ways that enthrall children and keep them learning. It revolves around looking at each student individually and finding the best way to help them learn.
Under her model, Hughey-Guy had her teachers incorporating the core subjects throughout the day, rather certain time periods.
“My successes was because [my students] were excited about learning and able to understand what they were learning,” Hughey-Guy said. “It is a model I believe in and I think it will work with all children. I do know it takes a lot of planning and the teachers and principal must be held accountable for meeting the targets and this is a model you can follow that is worth trying.”
According to Hughey-Guy, students of the proposed Middleburg Charter School will be featuring the Leonardo da Vinci Project model.
“Eventually the children will call it what it is. We used to call it the da Vinci Project and then they learned and challenged us and it keeps evolving,” Hughey-Guy said.
School Board Vice-Chair and Chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) wanted to know about the availability of vertical integration and cross-curricular learning practices between grades for students learning on the next grade level or vice versa.
“We do have integration in that way. It takes some planning and teachers sitting down looking at the objectives cross-curriculum and seeing common themes,” Hughey-Guy said. “At Barcroft, we used a program enabling us to work effectively with gifted learners, struggling readers, English Language Learners and those on grade level. Within the curriculum guide, teachers were able to meet the needs of the children individually.”
The Middleburg Charter School Application committee has asked for two waivers from the state: one being the requirements for guidance counselors and another for a specific gifted program.
School Board legal counsel Stephen DeVita noted it's a requirement for the county's schools to have a gifted program for students.
Hughey-Guy responded by saying the gifted curriculum is almost already included in the model.
“The gifted curriculum and what Loudoun County does to meet the needs of the gifted child are all embedded in the Leonardo Project model,” Hughey-Guy said. “It is not the intent to take away the services, it is not defined or given a title of gifted.”
The Middleburg Charter Review Committee will meet again in mid-December to discuss the charter school's application.
Should the School Board approve the application, the Middleburg Charter School is scheduled to be open in August 2014.