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SF School's Philosophy Used Nationwide

April 21, 2010, 5:03 PM by Katie Janssen

SF School's Philosophy Used Nationwide
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A Sioux Falls elementary school's philosophy is so unique that it's being picked up by districts all over the nation.

Every Wednesday, Fran la Bastide spends five hours in her son's fourth grade classroom at All City Elementary in Sioux Falls.

"Correcting homework, work in groups a lot, I spend time with him in math and language," Fran said.

"It's actually kind of nice,” her son, Camden, said. “If I have homework, she kind of knows what I'm doing."

But it's more than just la Bastide being helpful; parents must sign a contract to spend at least three hours at school a week in order to enroll their children. Principal Kevin Dick says adult involvement has been a focus from the beginning, and other schools nationwide are using the same ideas to improve student achievement.

"These are going on inner-city New York, downtown Dallas, Texas, Detroit, Michigan," Dick said. "Leaders have decided to turn around their school. Some are private, some are public, some are charter schools, and they expect that parents need some sort of connections to education."

Another unique initiative at All City is that students get to go on "choice days" once a month. They're totally arranged by parents, and kids get to see what parents do full-time.

"We get to go to different places,” Camden said. “Some are in school where you get to make stuff; some are in other places where you learn new stuff."

Administrators say an involved and engaged parent can make all the difference to a student and sets a good example.

"It's a commitment, but one I'm enjoying," Fran said.

All City Elementary only allows 150 students kindergarten through fifth grade, and the principal says there's always a waiting list of at least 70 students. The school is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

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