Classroom of the Future Has Arrived at Feaster Charter

At Mae L. Feaster Charter’s Engineering Lab, third grade students learn about torsion, tension, compression, and shear. They collaborate to construct model bridges. Upper grade students learn to code for “Arduino,” an open-source electronics platform intended for making interactive projects. Feaster students are taught the value of working with a team, revising an idea when it fails as opposed to accepting failure, and the importance of understanding design.

“The Engineer Lab inspires students and celebrates their creativity,” said CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “The school has done an amazing job in infusing the Arts, as well as Science, Technology, Social Studies, Engineering and Math into the curriculum. By fostering critical thinking and reasoning skills at a young age, the program can make a life-changing impact on students.”

The dedication to innovation is reflected in Feaster’s most recent award: the inspire Award in the 2015 Innovation in Education program, which is hosted by the Classroom of the Future Foundation.​ The award comes with a $5,000 donation from the Classroom of the Future Foundation.

Cassie Santos, Feaster’s engineering teacher, said she already observed a change in her students since the lab opened this school year.

“Their problem-solving skills have increased drastically,” Santos said. “They don’t give up as easily as they would before. That productive struggle is coming through in their regular classes. They are working harder and not getting stuck on a problem and giving up. Or they see problems and come up with solutions without even being prompted. That cross-curricular aspect has been amazing.”

Santos admits she was pleasantly surprised to hear that her school won the award. “This is icing on the cake for such a fun program,” she said.

Feaster’s Engineering Lab came about because of a partnership with Qualcomm’s Thinkabit Lab, which is the technology giant’s hands-on lab in Sorrento Valley that introduces middle school youth to technology and engineering careers. Feaster was one of the first schools to participate in Thinkabit. Feaster wanted to extend the experience, and set about developing its own engineering lab, staffed with an engineering teacher. The synergy with Qualcomm’s Thinkabit Lab has been a crucial component to Feaster’s efforts to provide its students with new engineering ideas and concepts.

The inspire Award is the school’s latest honor. Feaster Charter is among eight schools nationally in the running for the highest recognition from the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST). Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Director of NCUST, said Feaster is among the select few that met the National Excellence in Urban Education Award program’s rigorous eligibility criteria.

“We selected your school as a winner because you demonstrated through multiple indicators that your school is achieving impressive academic results for every demographic group you serve,” Johnson said, in written remarks.Feaster_131541

“Our site visit team validated that your school is truly one of America’s best urban schools! The site visit teams had the incredibly difficult task of determining which finalist schools presented the greatest evidence of strength in four areas: curricular rigor, instructional effectiveness, relational quality, and continuous improvement efforts. The team found considerable evidence of these strengths at your school.”

Feaster will have to wait until the National Symposium on High-Performing Urban Schools on May 21-22 in Dallas to find out whether it will receive the Silver Award or Gold Award. Silver Award winners will receive $2,500 checks and Gold Award winners will receive $5,000 checks. Only three schools out of eight will be designated as Gold Award winners.

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