Surprise’s new Asante Prep aims for students’ strengths

Asante Preperatory, 23251 N. 166th Drive, is opening this fall on the campus of the former Desert Moon Elementary School in the growing Asante development of Surprise. [Courtesy of DUSD]

By Jennifer Jimenez, SPECIAL TO INDEPENDENT

Principal Emily Dean has been anticipating the opening of Asante Preparatory since she was assigned to the position in January.

With seven years under her belt in the Dysart Unified School District, Ms. Dean said when the opportunity came to reopen the campus at 23251 N. 166th Drive, she felt the call to go out to make the school a place of excellence for kids.

“Opening up the school, one of the biggest challenges is making sure you get as much outreach as possible to all stakeholders and to set up things that will be meaningful to the students — making it fun and challenging,” Ms. Dean said.

Asante Prep is opening its doors on Aug. 6 on the former campus of Desert Moon Elementary, which closed years ago because of declining enrollment.

Now that the area is growing with housing developments popping up or planned all around the area, the district transformed Desert Moon into Asante to serve preschool through eighth grade.

Ms. Dean has been working with a leadership group made up of staff and stakeholder groups as well as the group of parents who developed the parent-teacher association. She’s also reached out to local businesses to develop partnerships.

“This is critical as we want to get perspective of everybody the school will impact,” Ms. Dean said. “Builders have a vested interest in how our schools do, and having a school of excellence is important when reaching out to potential employers further down the road. It takes a partnership in all stakeholder groups to make a school amazing.”

Asante Prep is focused on meeting the needs of all students and giving students the opportunity for acceleration at their individual pace. Ms. Dean said this happens using student data to pinpoint where students are and when they are ready for additional assistance.

“Each student has the opportunity for acceleration, and we use a designed thinking process to help kids experience more real world problem-solving to challenge the depth of their learning,” Ms. Dean said. “The biggest thing is we are going to try to break down traditional barriers for acceleration. And every eighth-grade student will have the opportunity to earn high school credit, and it’s our goal to have all enter high school with a half-credit.”

Offering the high school credit allows students to take further classes in their areas of strength — whereas opportunities were previously limited — and it also provides more dual enrollment opportunities at the high school level.

“Even in elective areas they can explore CTE options, and we believe all students can achieve at a very high level,” Ms. Dean said “Traditionally, in the past, we do offer opportunities for some kids to take algebra early, but that may not be their strength. Another example is if a student is super athletic, they can explore other things like sports medicine or take a football class and not get hung up on general physical education courses.”

Ms. Dean said the feedback has been positive about the opening of the school. She said stakeholders are excited about the unique way of looking at each students’ strengths and believing students can develop in all areas.

“I can’t even tell you, it’s been so amazing to have a look at each school community and know what they most need and provide offerings for those students,” she said. “It’s nice to know what we are doing at Dysart is what leading schools across the country are doing, and it is great to be part of the system and working together to find those paths for kids.

Those who currently reside within the boundary of Asante don’t need to apply. Others interested in enrolling, visit Dysart.org.

ASANTE PREPERATORY

  • What: Opening of new Surprise school Asante Preperatory
  • When: Aug. 6
  • Where: 23251 N. 166th Drive
  • Information: Dysart.org to enroll


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