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Friday September 19, 2014
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The Skyline High Experiment

 

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Just in case a visitor missed the other signs that Skyline is Ann Arbor's newest high school--the digital clocks in the hallways, the three-story, atrium-like "Annex," the banners representing the four "small learning communities"--"Diversity," "Equality," "Innovation," and "Integrity"--that announcement should eliminate any doubt.

"Magnets are probably the one thing that significantly changes what we are," says math department chair Dan Neaton. The four magnet programs--business, engineering, communications, and health--together enroll about 400 of Skyline's 1,600 students. "The student starts some courses in sophomore year, more in the junior year, internship in your senior year--that's unique in Ann Arbor," Neaton says.

Neaton has been teaching in Ann Arbor for thirty-six years, first at Clague, then Huron, and most recently Community. He volunteered for the committee to plan Skyline in 2005. But he isn't bragging--he doesn't teach a magnet himself. And he doesn't even mention that he championed another of Skyline's educational experiments, mastery learning.

Jeff Bradley, who started the science magnet, returns the compliment: "Mastery is what makes Skyline different," Bradley says. "In the old days, if the kids failed, they were gone. You hope they graduated. If they failed a test, they moved on. In here, if you fail a test, you didn't achieve mastery ... [you tell yourself] 'OK, I have to try it again,' or 'I better study more.'"

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