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School sets meeting to discuss charter
Spout Springs Elementary hosting event for parents outside attendance zone
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Spout Springs Elementary Charter Parent Information Night

What: Meeting for parents outside of the Spout Springs attendance zone
When: 6:30 tonight
Where: Spout Springs Elementary School gymnasium, 6640 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch
More info: Charter school applications will be available at the meeting. Applications are due June 10 and students will be notified of their acceptance June 24.

A new chapter begins this fall for students at Spout Springs Elementary School.

Spout Springs received its five-year charter on May 11 to follow a Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Model, which Principal Steven McDaniel said would develop students' talents.

The school is hosting a parent meeting tonight for interested families that live outside the Spout Springs attendance zone. At the meeting parents can tour the school and participate in a question-and-answer session.

"We had a parent meeting last year for parents of current students, and 97 percent of them voted on moving ahead with the charter idea," McDaniel said, adding 100 percent of Spout Springs faculty was behind the charter as well. "We started this process almost three years ago, and we actually piloted enrichment clusters this spring."

The enrichment clusters are groups of students collected around one general interest. They meet once a week for 90 minutes for several weeks. At the end of a cluster, McDaniel said students create a service or product to apply what they learn.

"We will be trying to weave enrichment into everything we do," he said. "We see our teachers go into this role and they become true facilitators of knowledge."

Hall County is no stranger to enrichment learning, as Sardis Enrichment School was one of the models Spout Springs looked to for inspiration.

"While a number of the principles that Spout Springs will rely on are similar to Sardis, all charter schools are by definition very unique," Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. "That being said, the Schoolwide Enrichment Model seeks to match learning styles, interests and individual gifts with standards-based instruction. I am proud of the staff and community for the plan they have put together for Spout Springs."

McDaniel said he, along with faculty and school board officials, have been working with the University of Connecticut, which created the Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Model, and the University of Georgia on creating the new curriculum.

Spout Springs will continue to expand the enrichment cluster program and its teachers will be engaged in more professional learning. McDaniel said he hoped all the school's teachers would attain gifted endorsement by the end of the charter period. A big portion of the curriculum will be the e-portfolio, which will start out in the lower grades in the fall and "roll up" with them each year.

"At the end of five years, students will have an electronic portfolio of their school progress," McDaniel said.

The portfolio will include things such as video and audio clips and pictures that will be available for teachers to show during parent-teacher conferences each year.

McDaniel said the school is waiting to hear whether it will receive $375,000 in grants for the charter, which would allow it to open more opportunity for student and community involvement with the new curriculum.

"We already have about a dozen applicants," he said.

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