Microschools see surge in Arizona

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The devastating effects of the pandemic on the education system are still being felt. Teachers left the profession in record numbers, and students have fallen behind academically; as much as three grade levels in some cases. Also, there have been heated conflicts over mask mandates, not to mention debates over curriculum.

A new type of school has emerged. Known as microschools, they claim to offer a more personalized education.

“A microschool is a smaller, more personalized learning environment,” says Tamara Becker, President and CEO of Adamo Education. “We have one teacher with no more than 12 students. We’re really able to customize the learning for students and give them different educational opportunities.”

The Adamo learning model features certified educators focused on providing authentic, hands-on learning. Quality attention is given to every child. Using proven, evidence-based, engaging curriculum, school staffers work in partnership with parents to create the optimal, flexible learning environment for each child.

“At Adamo Education, we believe every child can learn, and every student can be successful,” states their website.

“As we were going through the pandemic, I thought this was the time for education to do something different and put the kids back in focus,” Becker told us.

Arizona Horizon Producer Shana Fischer and photographer Juan Magana took us on a field trip to Adamo Education in Fountain Hills. We got an up-close look at what microschools are all about.

Think of combining a one-room schoolhouse with home schooling. A microschool pairs up with a charter school and uses their curriculum to get federal funding. These schools are not regulated by the Arizona Department of Education or charter school boards. They also do not require teachers to be certified. In essence, anyone can teach.

“I really feel like working with children is definitely my calling,” said teacher Rosemarie Barker. Barker said she had been frustrated for years by things like large class sizes, a shortage of school supplies and lack of support. Now with microschools, she has found a more fulfilling opportunity. Barker said they give her closer relationships to her students’ families. “When you do have that close relationship, they can know what you’re working on,” she said.

Every microschool is a little different; at Adamo, students can enroll in grades K through 8. The students do a combination of in-class learning and at-home learning. Adamo only uses state-certified teachers. Students learn in grade pods, and they also combine grades for socialization purposes.

Tamara Becker, President and CEO of Adamo Education;
Rosemarie Barker, Teacher

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