Our family faced a unique wrinkle when researching middle schools – not only would our son be attending middle school for the first time, he would be attending school for the first time. After seven years of home-schooling, we decided to send our oldest son to middle school two years ago. Yes, we too questioned the sanity of this decision. Middle school isn’t exactly the softest landing spot for a home-schooler, at least that’s what I thought before our Sinagua experience.
After researching all of the in-town options and applying to several charters and magnet programs, we finally settled on Sinagua’s STEM magnet called Middle School Institute of Technology and Engineering, better known as MIT-e (pronounced “mighty”). Our oldest son had such a wonderful experience in his first semester that his younger brother was begging to apply to the MIT-e program, and a year later we had two sons enrolled at Sinagua.
The coolest thing about MIT-e is students get to tackle real-world projects that involve problem-solving and hands-on work. Teachers present the students with problems and students design and engineer solutions, using only household items to complete their projects.
Each project begins with an idea, progresses to the execution stage with the teacher’s assistance, and then is tested. Most projects are team-based so students can work together on a solution. Our sons have designed and built bridges, prosthetics, tennis racquets, a desalination still, and a future city, among other things.
To enhance the learning experience, teachers bring local engineers and business owners into the classroom to discuss real-life problems they are trying to solve in their professions, and students are often involved in the idea-solution process. The MIT-e program has a competitive admissions process. Prospective students must complete an application which consists of a questionnaire, two letters of recommendation, and an in-depth essay. Not everyone gets in, and those who are admitted must maintain at least a B to stay in the program. Additionally, students must re-apply every year to continue in the program.
The benefits of Sinagua Middle School extend far beyond the MIT-e program. Because it is a former high school, the facility offers more amenities than any other middle school in town – a large auditorium, two gyms, a band room, a turf field and rubber track, and a modern, spacious building.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is that the administration, faculty and staff do an amazing job fostering a positive and accepting culture. Sinagua feels like a friendly community, whether you are a continuing traditional student or a home-school student dropped into middle school.
To learn more about Sinagua Middle School please visit https://www.fusd1.org/sms