Bismarck Public schools looking into innovative school option


A new, innovative public school option may be coming to Bismarck. A proposal was put before the shool board earlier this week.

This new school would be project-based learning. It’s a more hands-on approach that – to put it simply – is learning by doing. This style of teaching can benefit a wide variety of students. But I spoke to a mother who’s excited about the possibility for her autistic son.

“A school like this would give a personalized education not just to him but to every student that came in,” said Jen Werder.

The public school option would be in the Hughes Educational Center and start with grades K-3. And the students attending would be chosen through an application process and based on demographics like gender, race, and ability. However, Werder says they won’t be the only ones to benefit from the innovative practices. 

She said, “Even though there will be a smaller number of students housed in one location, these are all practices that will be integrated throughout the entire district for all students to benefit from.”

There’s already a private school option in Bismarck for project-based learning – The Innovation School.
In its first year of existence, the K-5th grade school has 15 students broken up into 3 classrooms. 

“We sort of take away the box that they have to fit into instead of making them fit into the environment. We try to let the environment move around them so they can be more comfortable with who they are and what they need,” said the school’s director, Maggie Barth.

Barth says her teacher tailors their lessons to each individual student based on their strengths. And they give a little more freedom with how projects are carried out – letting them lift their imagination to new heights. 

Barth added, “If you give kids that chance, they just take it to a totally new level that is always surprising and I shouldn’t be surprised anymore at what kids can do.”

Nothing was decided on during the meeting. The Bismarck school board wants more information including a proposed budget before moving forward with the idea.

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