Academy of Math and Science – Prince
Academy of Math and Science-Prince does not let circumstance determine a child’s success in school.
Students at the Tucson K-8 public charter school learn pre-algebra as early as third grade, play either the piano or guitar and take classes in Russian, Mandarin or Spanish.
Uniforms are a requirement and students are quick to give their attention to a teacher or principal who is speaking or giving direction, whether it’s during a class assignment, walking the corridors in between classes or a cafeteria announcement.
Teachers, administrators and staff hold high expectations for their students, but the discipline is mixed with genuine care, concern and what many describe as a family atmosphere.
And it works.
The 2008 National Blue Ribbon School has consistently been rated an ‘A’ school in the state’s accountability system despite the fact that more than 70 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced priced lunch.
For those reasons, AMS Prince was selected as the Arizona Charter School Association’s 2016 Charter School of the Year.
“Our mission is to give all of our students the best possible education,” said co-Principal Sandra Lomeland. “We want to give the students that opportunity they would get a private school. We want to show these kids can be successful, regardless of their background.”
The schools accomplishes its mission by teaching an advanced curriculum that focuses on math and science with an emphasis on problem-solving. Students are even encouraged to learn through their mistakes, such as when they disprove their own hypothesis on a science experiment.
“The great thing is, a lot of times, the kids don’t succeed or they disprove their hypothesis, originally. It helps them realize that they can make mistakes, and it’s just a matter of adjusting and moving on,” said Ettor Strada, co-principal and special education director. “Incorporating that throughout the school and throughout the whole curriculum, it helps them learn how to be better readers. It helps them to learn how to be better students altogether.”
This approach also allows students to accelerate their learning.
Many of the students are learning above grade level, including Alexis Aguirre, an eighth-grader at the school.
Aguirre, 13, said many of her friends who are in the same grade are just now covering topics that she learned in sixth and seventh grade.
“It’s challenging but not too hard. They keep you learning new things, but it’s not so hard that you can’t keep up with what’s going,” Aguirre said. “It prepares you a lot for high school and get you into the mindset where you’re on track.”
Aguirre benefits from her teachers’ commitment to her learning and making sure she understands the content. The connection between student and teacher is integral to the school’s success
“Grades and academics play a big part here, but they make sure you’re doing well and also having fun so you’re not just a robot in school,” she said. “They make learning fun.”
Meet All of our Winners
Academy of Math and Science – Prince is a K-8 charter school serving 420 students in Tucson. This STEM-focused school has high academic rigor for students while providing a well-rounded college-prep education.
Valerie Merrill is the principal at Legacy Traditional School – Gilbert, a K-8 charter school serving 1,200 students in Gilbert. Valerie is an inspirational leader and a quintessential role model for everyone involved with the school.
Betsy Rosenmiller is the finance director at Metropolitan Arts Institute, a charter high school serving 250 students in Phoenix. Although Betsy has a background in business administration, her passion is art.
Richelle Lewis is a third-grade teacher at American Leadership Academy – Queen Creek, a K-6 charter school serving 760 students. Richelle understands and embraces that all students learn differently.