Brooklyn Park's Zanewood Community School has that shiny, new look and feel this school year. Facility renovations added up to $4 million. It transformed this 1960's era elementary school in the Osseo School District into a modern space for 425 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. "The kids were so excited to see the building this year," said Zanewood Principal Mike Savage during a recent tour of the school with CCX News. "This is unrecognizable from last year: new lockers, new tiling, bright colors in the hallway." There's a level of excitement at this school that stretches beyond building improvements. Zanewood is picking up steam, and you can feel it. "The word that pops into my mind right away is innovation," said Savage. "Innovative, hardworking, passionate, and I'm not just talking about the staff, I'm talking about the kids as well." Two years ago, the school changed its direction after struggling with lagging test scores that teachers knew didn't reflect their students' ability. "The reason we were doing this was to grow our students because the other methods weren't working," said Kathryn Clingan, Zanewood's STEAM Program Coordinator. The school decided to develop a STEAM program, infusing science, technology, engineering, arts, and math into the everyday with hands-on lessons and problem-based learning. Even before the school introduced the STEAM program, Zanewood Community School already had good things going for it. "I always felt like this was the place for my kids," said Yosha Scott, a mother of three. Scott and her husband, Deandre have two kids currently at Zanewood, and their oldest daughter already went through the school. "Zanewood has great teachers, great staff," said Yosha Scott. Students at Zanewood represent a wide variety of different cultures, and those backgrounds are celebrated at school assemblies each month, where good leadership and character is also rewarded. "This is a gold ticket," said Savage, showing and explaining to our news crew an incentive program the school uses with students. "A gold ticket is something we give our kids and the kids collect them through the school year. It's an identification for when they do something good in our building." So now back to a progress report on the school's new STEAM program, two years in. Spoiler alert: the news is encouraging. "We took a look at our test scores, our high stakes test scores, [they're] on the rise," said Clingan. "We have made transformational growth in a number of our categories, so that told us, what we're doing is working and we want to continue." As part of the STEAM program, Zanewood also has a community partnership with Boston Scientific that provides some funding and includes local professionals visiting the school from the medical technology industry. Alexandra Renslo reporting http://www.ccxmedia.org
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