Monday, December 18, 2000

Charter school awards achievement

SABIS attracted 642 students in first year here

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Last Friday, 250 students at The SABIS International School of Cincinnati received invitations to awards assemblies this week, where they'll be honored for academic achievement, outstanding behavior, contributions and improvement.

        As the buses pulled away Friday from the Mount Auburn school, SABIS director Susan Michel Moore witnessed a remarkable sight.

        “They had their faces and invitations against the windows and were smiling and giving me a "thumbs up' sign,” Ms. Moore said. “It is thrilling to see them excited about doing the right thing.”

        The SABIS International School, new to Cincinnati, has completed the first of three terms.

        It's the first school in Ohio operated by SABIS Educational System Inc., a private, for-profit management company that develops high performance primary and secondary college preparatory schools.

        SABIS is one of 12 charter schools operating in Cincinnati. Lawmakers approved Ohio's charter school law in 1997 to give parents more educational choices and force school districts to improve through competition.

        Charter schools receive public funding from the state, but operate separately from local districts.

        Children flocked to the new tuition-free school. Enrollment in the K-6 school is 642. Eventually, it will be a K-12 school.

        “Some of the children haven't been successful, for whatever reasons, and they're bringing them here for a fresh start,” Ms. Moore said.

        It was a leap of faith for LaTanya Davis to move her three children from public schools to SABIS. Her kids have never been so eager to attend school, the Norwood woman said, and it shows in their academic performance.

        She's especially pleased with her third-grader's progress. “I had been crying out to the public school. I've known since he's 5 he has a learning disability. Don't you know when he went to SABIS they diagnosed him immediately?

        “It used to take him so long to read. Now, he breezes through a book,” she said. “He was having problems with comprehension. He's doing excellent in comprehension.”

        The school uses the SABIS Edge Academic Program, which includes: comprehensive curricula; high expectations in English, math, science and world languages (taught from kindergarten on); active student involvement as opposed to listening to lectures; and continuing assessments.

        SABIS relies heavily on testing, an average of three a week, to determine whether students have mastered concepts.

        “If they don't know it, we need to reteach it,” Ms. Moore said. “We don't go ahead until we get it.”

        Students assume leadership roles in the school's Student-Life organization. For example, sixth-graders take responsibility for younger children, making sure they get on the bus safely.

        ToQuisha Hutchinson, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Winton Terrace, likes Student-Life and the academic program at SABIS.

        “I like the way teachers teach,” she said. “They don't expect you to know all of it. They'll try and make sure everyone is on the same track.”


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