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Akron Public Schools Announces Partnership for 'Field Trips On Steroids'

Akron Public Schools’ Superintendent David James gave his annual State of the Schools address Thursday. He highlighted the district’s academic successes this year and plans for the future, including a partnership for what he’s calling “field trips on steroids.”

photo of David James
Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James says the partnership with the GAR Foundation will allow students to expand on what they're learning in the classroom.

The GAR Foundation is giving the schools $1.2 million for what’s called “Essential Experiences.” The program will allow about 8,000 students in Pre-K through 5th grades to participate in out of school visits to  places like the Akron Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Akron Zoo, ArtSparks, Hale Farm & Village and Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.

Kirstin Toth, senior Vice-President of the GAR Foundation, said the goal is to enhance what students learn in the classroom. “It opens the possibilities and expands your thinking about what’s out there and helps your inquiry and makes you think a little bit larger about the world.”

The grant covers admission costs and lunches for students during the trips for the next three years, and the foundation may consider expanding the program after that.

After the speech, Ellen McWilliams-Woods, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, discussed another program being expanded at APS. The International Baccalaureate program is currently shaping the curriculum at four schools including Firestone High School.

“The principles in IB fit exactly our mindset for the entire district. And that is: it’s student-directed instruction, it’s integrating content – so you don’t learn math separately from reading and science -- you do integrated projects. You do projects connected with the community.”

Resnik Community Learning Center was authorized in January to roll out the program. The next schools to get it will be King and Portage Path CLCs.

McWilliams-Woods said they plan to eventually expand the program to all of the district’s schools.

Listen to the complete State of the Schools address here:

2019 State of the Akron Schools

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.
Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.