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Funding will provide Mohawk with whole-school redesign of curricula, student experiences, school format 

  • Mohawk Trail Regional School FILE PHOTO

Staff Report
Published: 1/7/2019 8:15:46 PM

BUCKLAND — Mohawk Trail Regional School has received a $150,000 Mass IDEAS planning grant to support redesigning student experience.

The school received a mini-grant of $14,800 late last year so that school officials, students, staff and community members can go back to school for a weekend to “rethink school” and consider re-designing graduation requirements to better prepare students for life after school on Jan. 26 and 27. The smaller grant, from the Mass IDEAS Design Institute, as well, will be used for stipends for a team of up to 20 interested students, teachers, community members and parents who sign up to work on discussions, planning and considering new Mohawk graduation requirements, in future events to take place at Mohawk. The school will be holding a “roundtable” of full-day workshops over that weekend, according to Mohawk spokeswoman Carla Potts. More information will be available on the school’s website.

That mini-grant will begin a longer process of reviewing the school’s graduation criteria and possibly making changes so that Mohawk graduates are better prepared for college or careers once they leave, while the larger grant will allow weekend institute work to be fully developed and the school and community to re-imagine the Mohawk school experience, which will include creating a comprehensive plan that includes revised academic programming, professional development and new opportunities for internships and innovative coursework.

Funding will be rolled out throughout this year, and in 2020, the school will be eligible to apply for a Mass IDEAS implementation grant — these grants have a maximum projected grant size of $375,000.

“We are incredibly honored to be awarded the Mass IDEAS planning grant, which will allow Mohawk the ability to transform each student’s educational experience,” said Mohawk Trail Regional School Co-Principal Marisa Mendonsa. “This grant provides us with a platform to engage our school community in the design of innovative programming and curriculum that meets the growing needs of our rural community.”

Mendonsa said the funding will allow the school to not only provide the necessary academic and social skills students need in grades seven through 12 at Mohawk, but to create unique learning experiences students will carry throughout life.

“This grant is a wonderful opportunity for us to build on work we’ve been doing in recent years to engage our school community in thinking about how we can best prepare our students for the future,” said Mohawk Trail Regional School Co-Principal Lynn Dole.

Mohawk is one of five Mass IDEAS Planning Grant recipients from across Massachusetts. Other awardees included Barnstable Intermediate School, Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School, Monument Mountain Regional High School and Salem High School. Mass IDEAS, an initiative of Next Generation Learning Challenges at EDUCAUSE, will provide staff support and knowledge, as well as financial resources throughout the planning process.

“The Mass IDEAS planning grant is a spectacular opportunity for our school community to re-invent Mohawk into a boldly innovative learning environment that enables our students to create pathways to their most exciting hopes and dreams,” said Mohawk Trail Regional School District Superintendent Michael A. Buoniconti.

A Mohawk Trail Regional School District Committee report says, “We will be seeking to add more choice, variety of courses, and internships as pathways to graduation. This grant will allow us to host a weekend institute in which up to 20 Mohawk stakeholders (students, staff, parents, community members) will be invited to participate in the redesign of graduation requirements.”

In October 2018, Mendonsa, Mohawk teachers Rachel Silverman, Drew Johnson, Travis Minnick and school parent Tim Shearer attended the Mass IDEAS School Design Institute for a weekend long intensive to “re-envision Mohawk student pathways to graduation.”

“Our redesign process is rooted in the reality that one school path doesn’t work for every student.” said Mohawk art teacher Rachel Silverman. “We are creating a model that allows each learner to customize their trail through high school.”

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