MOSAIC school of innovation plans to open in Fall 2017

The Mehlville School District (MSD) plans to open an innovative school for kids kindergarten through fourth grade in the Fall of 2017.

The school was recently given the name MOSAIC standing for Mehlville Oakville Students Achieve Inspire Create. Oakville Elementary third grade teacher Mary Kaye Williams coined the name and it was released at the school board meeting on March 9. The principal of MOSAIC will be Scott Clark, current principal at Forder elementary, and the school will be located in the former St. John’s Elementary building across the street from Mehlville High School.

Of all elementary students in the district, 554 students applied into a lottery for the school of innovation; 250 students were selected to attend the first year and the district plans to increase the number to 300 students the second year. The district took demographics of the district into consideration when selecting students. MOSAIC is the first school of its kind in the St. Louis region. Elementary students will learn at their own pace through individual learning plans.

“The choice school community will create personalized paths to empower learners beyond the classroom. This means each child will have opportunities to learn at their own pace and path, and based off their interests,” Clark said.

MOSAIC will still follow the Missouri learning standards, but the teaching strategies will be different to incorporate a kid’s interests. Technology will still be used in the classroom as it is in the current elementary schools, but MOSAIC is not strictly a technology based school.

“The school and the philosophy behind it and the teaching practices that’ll take place is for each and every child. It doesn’t matter on their academic abilities,” Clark said.

MOSAIC will not be serving as a supplement for the STRETCH program because the school of innovation is not meant strictly for gifted kids.

“I think there will be some (teaching) strategies that will be comparable to what you would see in a STRETCH classroom. We are going to recognize and celebrate diversity, creativity in the classroom and hopefully be able to enhance that in all our students, but this school is not only for gifted students,” Clark said.

The school of innovation was questioned at first for its cost and transportation needs. The finance committee suggested waiting to initiate the school, but the school board approved. The money for the school is coming from the district’s operating funds.

Transportation will still be offered to students in the morning, but not in the afternoon. Students will first be bused to their home school and then transfer onto a bus for the innovative school. MOSAIC will have a later start time than the current elementary schools by about 10 minutes.

The transition of students from MOSAIC to the current middle schools is expected to go smoothly as Clark is hoping for the middle schools to start incorporating some of the teaching techniques used at MOSAIC. As the innovative learning gains more support, Clark hopes MOSAIC serves as a model to be used at all grade levels.

“This is the start of something much bigger than just the Choice School of Innovation. This will change the educational landscape in St. Louis. It is important that the students feel ownership in their own learning, and be able to address their needs based off their interests. If they find something that really sparks their interests, we have time to take them down that road. Even though it’s going to follow the learning standards, there is opportunity to explore more, discover more, and that’s how greatness happens,” Clark said.