Weilenmann makes program changes | ParkRecord.com

Weilenmann makes program changes

Alexandria Gonzalez, The Park Record

Weilenmann School of Discovery, a publicly funded charter school within the Park City School District, is back to school with a new theme to go along with its significant school program changes. "Dwell in Possibility" is the school’s doctrine this year, based on a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Principal Mary Kimball said her students "dwell in possibility and potential," and she hopes the handful of new teachers at the school will bring that out in each of them.

"You get new teachers, and they just always bring new energy to the school," said Kimball. "And what is great about our students is that potential equals possibility, and that really asks a lot of us to then become stewards of possibility."

Kimball is optimistic about the new opportunities students and teachers will be given this year to increase that potential, such as their recent Beverly Taylor Sorenson Foundation Art Grant.

Those funds will go toward beginning a three-dimensional art program at Weilenmann for students K-5. They will train in 3-D art and emphasize on ceramics.

Another addition is interim trips for middle-school students in grades 6-8. These interim trips are educational trips designed to allow students to experience the lessons they are taught at the school in real-life situations.

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The sixth graders will be travelling to the Spiral Jetty at the Great Salt Lake, the Air Force Base Museum south of Ogden, the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Brigham City and the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City.

The seventh graders will be working with Spy Hop Productions, a youth-oriented film school, to "explore technology in new and different ways" and then exploring and talking with staff at The Leonardo Museum, both in Salt Lake City.

The eighth graders will be going to Cedar City to attend the Shakespeare Festival. They have backstage passes, will be speaking to actors and getting to understand them through the context of the actor’s studio and will have the opportunity to see a couple of plays, Kimball said.

"The whole purpose of the interim trips is to build a connection within the grade, develop the culture of the grade, and hopefully bond with the teachers they go with," said Kimball. "We are a small school, so we think it is important to build community."

Middle-school students will also be offered "enrichment classes" for the first time this year. Kimball said they will meet on Fridays for one class period and get to elect the diverse classes they want to attend.

Fly-fishing, documentary film-making and game-building technology are all examples of enrichment classes available to students, Kimball said. Weilenmann wants to build on the talents of its faculty that are unique and give students an opportunity to grow and experience the world in a less traditional way, Kimball said.

Weilenmann is also increasing its technology initiative this year by giving students more access to technology. According to Kimball, all of Weilenmann’s language programs are online along with other educational programs.

"I know that a lot of times, schools throw technology at kids, making them think, ‘The technology will do this in place of me,’" said Kimball. "That’s not what we want; we want to see how it enhances the academic experience as the child develops as a learner in the 21st century."

Teachers at Weilenmann’s Back-to-School Night presented and discussed these changes and how this year’s theme ties in with what they are doing. They also pushed for parent volunteers to register for the Parent Student Teacher Organization (PSTO), because Kimball said that the success of the school is parents who want to be involved and engaged in school programs.

"We’re just ready for yet another year preparing our students for any opportunity they head off to," said Kimball. "And they always come back and visit and say how thankful they are that they had this opportunity to explore life at Weilenmann and what a difference it has made as they move forward."