New charter school gets Lutheran sponsorship
Augsburg College and Fairview are teaming up to teach health careers
The Academy for Health Careers, a new charter high school sponsored by Augs-burg College and Fairview Health Services, is on a fast track for a launch on September 6.
Created through the Faith in the City Initiative (FITC), a cooperative venture of seven Lutheran ministries in the Twin Cities, the new “Academy for Health Careers” will be located at 1326 Energy Park Drive (across from Bandana Square) in St. Paul.
Mark Youngstrom, a former state specialist in English education for the Minnesota Department of Education and co-founder of the Perpich Center for the Arts in Golden Valley, has been named to direct the new school.
The Academy is one of five new Star charter schools supported by the University of Minnesota’s Center for School Change, through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s being established to help students from diverse backgrounds explore and prepare for careers in health care and health-related fields.
Between 60 and 80 students in grades 9-11 are expected in the initial enrollment. Plans are for expansion to a full four-year high school in 2006, and to enroll 150-200 students by 2008.
Youngstrom, who was a teacher and administrator in the Mounds View School District (1968-79), earned his BA in English from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MA in English from the University of Minnesota, where he also did doctoral level work in curriculum and instruction. After helping found the Perpich Center for Arts Education, he served as director of the statewide Arts High School until 2004.
The Academy’s Board of Directors has several educators and health professionals among its membership. Jeri Nelsen, FITC executive director and board chair, says board members haveprovided extraordinary support to the start-up of the school, program development, student recruitment, preparation of facilities and furnishing the classrooms.
The school has received extensive in-kind support from FITC member organizations, including marketing materials from Thrivent and Augsburg College, student volunteer support from Luther Seminary, and a major gift of furnishings from Fairview.
Youngstrom said re-cruiting teams have been put in place in several of the Twin Cities’ ethnic communities to assist in recruiting a diverse student body, one of the new school’s primary goals.
In addition to in-the-classroom study, students will have individual mentors provided by Fairview and several other Twin Cities area health organizations, as well as students from Augsburg College.
The new school will provide for regular field trips to Rochester, Minnesota, in partnership with Mayo Clinic, and to places like emergency care centers, hospitals, clinics, and science-related businesses and industries to give the students a “hands-on” experience and opportunity to explore a wide array of health-care careers.
The Academy will also incorporate a special experiment to better prepare students for college placement through yet another partnership, set up between the school, Century College, the University of Minnesota, and the other Star charter schools. It will allow Academy students to take the computer-based reading, writing and math exams that Century College uses for placement. By taking the exams while they are still in high school, the students will be able to identify subject areas where they are not yet performing at a college level and get a much better idea of what it means to be prepared for college. This new educational tool also is sponsored by a grant from the Gates Foundation, facilitated through the Center for School Change.
For further information about the new charter schoool, visit its Web site, www.augsburgacademy.org, or call 651-645-5698.
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Participants in the Faith in the City collaborative:
* Augsburg College
* Fairview Health Services
* Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
* Luther Seminary
* Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
* Central Lutheran Church, downtown Minneapolis
* Augsburg Fortress Publishers