In August 2001, IDEAL Charter School opened its door to Milwaukee’s south side community. IDEAL was created by a group of dedicated parents, teachers and community members who strongly believed in Individualized, Developmental, Educational Approaches to Learning.
IDEAL was created through a contract with MPS, in which this charter sets the framework and provides the school with greater independence over its operations.
In exchange for charter flexibility, the school is held accountable for achieving charter school goals, including improvement of student performance. Its unique governance structure provides teachers and parents with a true voice in the decision making process.
IDEAL is rooted in the wisdom and success of I.G.E. (Individually Guided Education), combining current research and successful practice to create a technology-rich curriculum that will prepare our students for the future. The learning environment is child-centered, promoting active learning and exploration. Thinking strategies and processes are emphasized as children learn how to ask questions and research solutions.
Participation in programs such as the international Future Problem Solving Program, UW-Milwaukee Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum Junior Docent Program enhances the educational program and provides opportunities for community involvement. The State and District Standards are addressed and assessed through a thematic, integrated approach to curriculum. IDEAL students are taught how to learn, not just what to learn.
IDEAL’s educational program is built upon five constructs:
1. Multi-Aged, Inclusive Classrooms
- Organized in units.
- Builds on each child’s natural patterns of growth.
- Focuses on developing strengths.
- Uses flexible grouping and cooperative learning.
- Values the contributions of each child.
- Meets the needs of the academically talented as well as those with exceptional education needs.
2. Shared Governance Model
- Governed by parents, students, teachers and community members.
- Managed by teachers.
3. Students Actively Engaged in Meaningful Learning
- Integrated curriculum based on a balanced literacy and inquiry/problem-solving model.
- Active, developmentally appropriate approach to the curriculum.
- Individual learning styles diagnosed and addressed.
- Differences valued.
- Technology used to enhance learning.
- Music and Art infused throughout curriculum.
4. Assessment by Performance, Product and Demonstration
- Assessment linked to clearly stated learning goals and standards.
- Assessment should focus on children’s progress and development with respect to goals and standards, rather than on comparisons to one another.
- Should promote thoughtful learning and development.
- Seamless link between assessment and instruction.
5. Community Involvement
- View school as a community of learners.
- Develop responsible citizenship.
- Take advantage of the rich resources in our community.
- Form partnerships with businesses and the community that will benefit our students and families.