DENVER — Learning how to code doesn’t just have to happen on a computer. At Valley View Innovation School, fourth graders got a lesson on the basic premise by jumping from dot to dot in the hallway. The newest school in the Mapleton Public Schools district is focused on project-based and hands-on learning.
“We were hearing from parents that they wanted an option that really addressed the needs of gifted students and advanced learners,” Mike Crawford, senior deputy superintendent for Mapleton Public Schools, said.
While the focus is on gifted and talented education, students do not need to take a test to be admitted. The school is open to any student in the district. The director for Valley View, Julianne Hazah, said the big difference is an individualized approach.
“A student in first grade may be first grade for math, but they may be second grade for reading,” Hazah said.
And Valley View’s brand new building was designed with the curriculum in mind, incorporating “learning pods” in each wing of the building with breakout areas for students to get out of the classroom.
Seth Clark is an architect with Neenan Archistruction that helped design Valley View. He said all of spaces were created in a way to encourage creativity.
“There are sinks in all of these places so if whatever they’re getting involved in is messy they have a place to clean up,” he pointed out.
Janelle Pepple is one of the school's newest teachers. She said it's an exciting opportunity for Valley View staff. The district is helping every teacher working there earn "GT" (gifted and talented) certification.
“It’s about getting to know the students on a personal level and then giving them projects to go deeper in the content and their understanding of a particular subject,” Pepple said.
Valley View Innovation School replaces the previous Valley View K-8 school in the Mapleton Public Schools district. Right now, Valley View teaches pre-K through fourth grade, but eventually it will go through eighth grade.