This past Friday, I had the pleasure of attending a tour of AppleTree Early Learning PCS Southwest with the First Fridays program. The morning began with my own hopeless attempts to find the school, as phone maps have clearly not updated their charter school location system. After many circles around the block, two students, clad in uniforms and backpacks, finally flagged me down. They greeted me with smiles and high fives and we all entered the school together; from that point on, my experience at Apple Tree was nothing short of friendly and enthusiastic. It became evident that the teachers, students, and parents all share an overwhelming pride in the school and everything that it stands for.
As a charter school serving many families of Ward 6, AppleTree Early Learning PCS Southwest’s mission is to close the achievement gap for those who need it most. The School operates under the Every Child Ready model, which essentially tells teachers what to teach and how to teach it. This straightforward method helps teachers instruct with intention. Through ECR, teachers test students five times a year and use that data to create small groups with specific purposes. During the time I spent in the classrooms, I noticed that one of the teachers would call out a few names and have a private lesson at a table with a few students struggling with the same issue. ECR ensures that teachers are instructing with a target in mind and that each student’s needs are being addressed.
What I noticed most during the tour was the focus on the blend of structure and free choice. Even though the students are young and their activities seem trivial, every decision they make has purpose. They choose where they play during centers, but they learn patience, teamwork, and manners. In