Moab Charter School provides educational alternative for K-6 students
by Laura Haley
contributing writer
Aug 09, 2012 | 941 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the morning bell rings for the first day of school this year, most local students attending kindergarten through sixth grade will take their seats at Helen M. Knight Elementary School. However, a growing number will, instead, attend their first day of classes at the Moab Charter School.

The Moab Charter School, located at 348 East 300 South, was founded in 2004. For the first year, the school operated as a private school. But the following year, the charter school became one of 80 such schools in the state of Utah, according to Moab Charter School Director Joe Heywood.

Without a licensed administrator at the helm, the school struggled until 2008, when Heywood was brought on board. At the time, the school only had 36 students enrolled. Heywood said that one of his first goals was to increase the number of pupils. And in the past four years, the enrollment had almost tripled. A total of 90 students will attend the charter school for the 2012-2013 school year.

Heywood said that the ultimate goal is for the school to continue growing until it reaches 140 students – 20 in each grade, kindergarten through six.

“We just purchased our campus,” he said. “We are going to start renovating [the current buildings] and adding new buildings.”

In the four years that he’s been in charge, Heywood has hired teachers from all across the country.

“We have a really strong top to bottom staff,” he said. “They are really energetic and innovative.”

He said he believes the school’s staff is part of the reason charter school enrollments have grown so much in the past few years.

According to Heywood, charter schools are still considered public schools, meaning there is no tuition fee for students to attend. Though the teaching styles may vary from a mainstream public school, charter school provide instruction based on the same core curriculum set and required the State of Utah.

“Most charter schools find a unique niche,” he said. “We focus primarily on small class sizes... Some people enjoy shopping at Walmart, and some people enjoy shopping at a small, local market.”

Heywood said that there is a myth in Moab that only kids who are struggling in school attend the charter school. That is not true, he said.

“We have the same snapshot of Moab that HMK does,” he said. “We have top performing students and we have bottom performing students.”

Charter school staff also emphasizes music and the arts as part of a child’s education, Heywood said. The school is able to teach art to every student thanks to grant money that has funded the program at the school, he said. The charter school also has a program that aims to “pull science out of the textbooks,” according to Heywood. Last year, park rangers from Dead Horse Point State Park spoke to the students at the school.

Heywood said that the charter school has come a long way from its beginnings only eight years ago, and school officials hope to keep the facility growing.

“I think that word of mouth has spread that it’s actually a really good school,” Heywood said.

For more information about enrolling a student in the Moab Charter School, contact the school’s administrative office at 435-259-2277.

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