Wednesday, January 23, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 77


UH elementary school marks fifth anniversary

By Wendy Williamson
Daily Cougar Staff

In 1997, a group of parents, as well as people from this University's College of Technology and citizens of the surrounding community, had the
idea of opening an elementary school at UH.

Mauro Alvarez/The Daily Cougar

Students at the UH Charter School learn through interacting with each other. The kindergarten through fifth-grade school will celebrate its fifth
anniversary Sunday.

The group went before the State Board of Education and proposed a five-year charter for a state-funded public school, said Carolyn Black,
principal and one of the founders of the UH Charter School.

"We started in one room that we borrowed from the (UH) Human Development lab, with only a kindergarten/first-grade class," Black said. "We
quickly grew and had to borrow trailers and rooms from the School of Technology."

In August 2001, the UHCS moved into Melcher Gymnasium, on the first floor in the former women's athletics locker room.

Sunday will mark the fifth anniversary of the ever-blossoming school, which now consists of a total of six classes of kindergarten through fifth
grade, the targeted size, Black said.

"The whole University and community helped us get into our new facility," Black said.

In February 2001 the school re-chartered to the Board and received another 10 years as a charter school, Black said.

The school focuses on constructivist education, which Black said centers on helping children construct their own knowledge as active learners
and to take part in authentic learning through interacting with one another.

The motto of the school says it all: "UHCS, where children are challenged to construct knowledge and community."

"Each classroom consists of two grade levels," Black said. "It gives children more time, in a learning community and teaching team they know, to
focus on learning."

UHCS has 129 students with between 20 and 23 pupils in each classroom, as well as a lead and assistant teacher for each of the six classes,
Black said.

"A grant from the Texas Education Agency allowed us to have a reading teacher," she said, "so we have reading recovery half a day and literacy
group the other half."

The constructivist approach to the education has the literacy groups divided among the interests of the students, for example animals or sports,
which allows them to choose in which group they would like to participate, Black said.

Other additions to the school include music classes at the Moores School of Music and speech therapy provided by the Speech, Hearing and
Language Clinic at UH, Black said. Also, Anadarko Petroleum donated over 40 computers to the school, allowing computers in each room and a
future computer lab.

"We are also in preparations for science, art and cooking centers," Black said.

For now, each child brings a lunch and the students eat together with the teachers in their classroom, but, Black said, the school is looking into
having lunch catered in the future.

UHCS also has a very active parent organization called Alliance For Constructivist Education, Black said.

"The parents' organization built and furnished our playground outside and has activities and parent education programs," she said.

Each classroom has a nickname, according to Black, from the kindergarten/first-grade class, the Trailblazers, to the fourth/fifth-grade class, the

"We graduated our first fifth-graders last year," Black said. "There were 11 students and they went on to other public schools."

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