"My daughter is so excited about the Museum School! It's unique and hands-on."
If there is one word to describe Tom Almonte’s feelings about the new Grand Rapids Public Museum School, it’s “excited”.
Tom said, “I went home and I talked to my oldest. I said, ‘What do you think about going to a school where you’re going to the Museum?’ And I guess that was the beginning and the end cause then she went to school the next day and she told all the kids ‘Guess where I’m going next year? I’m going to the Museum School!’”
The Grand Rapids Public Museum School will open in the fall of 2015 with 6th grade and grow one grade per year to serve 6th-12th grade students. The middle school will be housed in the Van Andel Museum Center, while the high school will be in the historic, former public museum at 54 Jefferson. The uniqueness of the location is one of many features that drew Tom and his family to the school.
“She can interact with what she’s learning, but the opportunity of being in a new setting with new energy and also being in downtown, I think all of that is attractive to me. It allows me to support downtown and the city that I love,” said Tom, who is a Grand Rapids Public Schools Union High graduate and City of Grand Rapids employee. He speculated that students will feel special at the new school because they will have a level of access to the museum that the general public doesn’t have.
Another feature Tom finds exciting is the hands-on nature of the school. Students will be able to access the museum’s exhibits and artifacts in their daily education. They will also collaborate with one another to solve real world problems through a process called “design thinking”. It encourages curiosity and listening to the experience of others, while looking at the world with an open mind to pursue a creative way to address needs or opportunities.
Considering all the innovative features of the new school, Tom believes the G.R. Public Museum School will set GRPS apart from other schools, not only in Michigan but also throughout the country.
“My decision to send the kids to, or to apply for the Grand Rapids Museum School, has nothing to do with GRPS- like I have some kind of sense of ownership or a sense of trying to invest in a system that is not the best. It’s the opposite of that. The reason why my wife and I made the decision to send our oldest kid to GRPS is because we believe the Grand Rapids Museum School will be able to compete with any of the private schools,” said Tom.
Act now! Apply today! Seats for theme schools and Centers of Innovation are limited and an application is required. Apply online at apply.grps.org, or visit any GRPS school or the Administration Building at 1331 Franklin St SE for a paper application.