IPS goes non-traditional to attract teachers, new kids to district

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By Jill Glavan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2014) -- New leadership at Indianapolis Public Schools is working to turn things around and it was demonstrated through a non-traditional school that opened its doors to the public Friday.

From dancing, to yoga, to even learning about the heart by crawling through giant fake arteries, the things you see kids do at SUPER School 19 are far from traditional.

"That's what I do every single day. I'm used to it," 7th grade student Hogan Hickman said.

Hickman is one of more than 400 who go to an IPS magnet school that focuses on Action-Based Learning. It's a model that gets kids moving, even in the middle of class through targeted "brain breaks."

Friday, they got a visit from Jean Blaydes, the Texas woman who started the model. She honored the school as the first-ever flagship, saying it is the only one in the country using the idea throughout the school day.

"It’s all based on the brain science that shows that movement facilitates cognition and supports that kids need to move to learn," Blaydes said.

Title I teacher Jackie Lee has been at IPS for nine years and watched the school transform.

"rather than sitting sedentary, (when) you kind of lose students after a few minutes, ... with this we know that they’re always engaged," Lee said.

In her own classroom, Lee even uses desks with stationary bikes attached, so students bike as they do their classwork.

School 19 became a magnet school under previous administration, yet its success is reflected in what's happening in IPS at the moment. In his first year, Dr. Lewis Ferebee re-arranged departments, made major changes to leadership and this week, finalized a new contract with teachers.

The contract will give all but a handful of returning teachers $1,500 bonuses for staying this year. Those will be handed out in increments this November and next spring. Teachers who take on leadership roles will be eligible for $5,000 bonuses as well.

Starting next year, there will no longer be different pay models for teachers with higher certificates or degrees. Instead, teachers will be paid more for electing to teach at low-performing schools.

That, coupled with non-traditional learning like School 19, is what the district is hoping will turn things around, attract good teachers and convince parents to bring their kids back to IPS.

You can learn more about SUPER School 19 at the link here.