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Academy embraces Smartville model
City has very real-world concepts
Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy fifth-grader Catie Cook, 10, watches as English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher Tina Gonzalez counts out play money Tuesday at the Smartville bank. Smartville exposes students to life beyond the classroom — going to the bank, the post office, working in a garden and learning about culinary arts. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Matt Maynor had a vision when he took over as principal of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

He wanted to bring Smartville back.

Smartville is the village-theme model of teaching students eight different intelligences — body, nature, visual and number smarts, to name a few.

Though the entire school is painted in murals based on city buildings, the Smartville stations consist of a post office, a bank, a science lab and garden, and a culinary arts kitchen.

More than 100 students act as bank tellers, postmen, scientists, chefs and master gardeners every day as different grade levels go through the Smartville rotations.

Maynor said the science and garden aspects of Smartville expand every year, the post office has increased its use of different communication media and the culinary arts room has a full-scale kitchen with a working, fire code-approved oven.

"It's exciting to see in action," he said. "(At the bank) our kids are making donations to a real live bank account through the school."

Tiya Cantrell, 10, a fifth-grader at Enota, was one of the students learning to write a check at the bank during Tuesday's Smartville time.

"I like the education," she said. "It's something I've never done before."

Jennifer Westbrook, assistant principal at Enota, said the bank will teach kids a lot about economics and math.

"It's very real-world concepts with mathematics," she said. "(The teacher) is able to teach them math standards without the kids knowing what they're doing, which makes it more motivating."

Fifth-grader Hinton Chandler, 10, has been at Enota since kindergarten. He said last year students didn't do nearly this much with Smartville.

"It's fun and they make it like a city," Chandler said. "Culinary arts is my favorite because you get to make snacks and eat them."

The fifth-graders at the culinary arts station were learning about food safety Monday as an introduction to cooking and life as a chef. The postmasters for the day delivered mail to Maynor and other teachers, and the science station students were busy making future plans for the lab and garden.

Smartville was the brainchild of Sally Meadors, a former principal at the school.

"It's been about eight years since we became a Multiple Intelligences Academy," said Jennifer Westbrook, assistant principal at Enota. "In the beginning, the parents, the students, all of the stakeholders had a huge part in creating Smartville."

Audrey Thornton, a MPACT gifted teacher at Enota, said she remembers the first summer when Smartville began. Parent and teacher volunteers spent countless hours in the building painting the murals and making it really look like a small city.

Over the years, Smartville became less active as the MI focus changed.

"Last year we really just didn't do it," Thornton said. "The use was really spotty. It was up to the individual teacher to do it."

This year, Thornton and fourth-grade teacher Leigh Elliott-Pfaff got on the ball to make a set Smartville rotation. They said scheduling Smartville and having set teachers in charge of each station makes it run more smoothly than in the past.

Maynor said he wants to see the media part of Smartville grow, possibly into a broadcast news station that could apply to the school's science, technology, engineering and math program.

"If Dr. Maynor hadn't seen the opportunity ... we probably would not have this focus on it," Thornton said.


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