Northland Pines School District to expand, add charter school programs Submitted: 08/14/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

Northland Pines School District to expand, add charter school programs
EAGLE RIVER - The Northland Pines School District just got $300,000 in grants from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. One grant will help start a Montessori Learning Center for 4K through fourth graders. It's set to open in the fall of 2015, most likely in St. Germain. The district will spend this year planning and hiring staff.

"The kids have a little bit more freedom, and it's a lot more child-centered than you would see in a traditional approach. You might walk into a traditional classroom and see all the kids reading from a textbook or maybe learning the same math problem. Rarely, probably never, would you see that in a Montessori classroom," Eagle River Elementary and Northland Pines Middle School Principal Tony Duffek said of the Montessori model.

The district was one of only six in the state to get the planning grant, and it was the only one in the Northwoods.

"I think it speaks volumes about our school district about how innovative we are and how we're always, you know, I think a step ahead of the game and see what we can do to make sure we are serving the community the best we can," Duffek explained.

The district already has a charter school focused on project-based learning in Land O' Lakes. It's currently open to fifth through eighth graders.

The other grant the district received will help expand the program to include high school students.

"Every kid learns differently. Every family wants something for their child's education. We're confident that we meet kids' needs in the traditional setting in Northland Pines School District, but the reality is that there is a small percentage of students that really need a different learning environment for them to reach their maximum potential," Duffek added.

The district hopes to open the charter school to high schoolers within the next three to four years. It will start accepting applications for the Montessori Learning Center November 1st. Applications will be available on the school district's website closer to that time.

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