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ASU to launch public K-12 schools; Larry Pieratt leads new initiative

August 08, 2006

Larry Pieratt, a bold educational innovator and founder of the successful Horizon Community Learning Center, will lead the new University Public Schools Initiative at ASU as executive director.

He will help the university develop an intense, research-based role in pre-K-12 education, according to ASU President Michael Crow. ASU plans to launch several research-based public schools throughout the Valley, in partnership with local school districts and the community.

“This initiative not only revitalizes ASU’s roots in teacher training and public schools, but it also allows us to provide innovative tools and support to increase the academic achievement of all Arizona students,” Crow says. “We want to bring university resources to bear, creating schools that can serve as exemplars and resources for the public school system.

“ASU recognizes it has a clear responsibility to make a positive difference in Arizona public schools, and we are seeking to fulfill that responsibility. Larry Pieratt has been a leader in educational reform throughout his 31 years as an educator. His creativity, leadership and commitment to the children of Arizona will help ASU in that effort.”

Pieratt was the founding principal at Centennial Middle School in the Kyrene School District, where he was recruited in 1990 from Ohio to help lead the district in converting its junior high schools to middle schools.

In 1996, he left Kyrene to launch Horizon, a school that is recognized as the flagship for the charter school movement in Arizona.

Under Pieratt’s leadership, Horizon has grown from 480 students to its current enrollment of 1,436 in grades K-12. The school is known nationally for its unique learning program, parent involvement, teacher professional growth program, application of technology and community partnerships. It was one of five schools in the nation chosen by the Milken Family Foundation in 2000 to pilot the Teacher Advancement Program and was the first “COX Model Technology School” in Arizona in 1999.

ASU’s School of Extended Education awarded Pieratt the Community Visionary Award in 1999.

“This is an opportunity to create something totally new,” Pieratt says. “It’s what I’ve done all my life, only now I’ll take the resources of a major university to the schools. We truly have an opportunity to make a tremendous impact. I’m very excited by the challenge, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

ASU will provide the schools with:

• Space and services.

• College students as tutors, mentors and teaching assistants.

• Professional development.

• An innovative curriculum.

• Forums for community feedback.

UPSI is part of the ASU Office for Education Partnerships, which aims to improve the academic performance of Arizona’s students by working with public and private sector partners.

The university, led by Vice President Eugene Garcia, launched the ALPHA partnership with 26 schools in eight high-need districts in January 2004. Since then, two-thirds of the schools have dramatically improved their performance on state standards, and student-teacher placement in the schools has increased 115 percent.

Other efforts include a kindergarten readiness program in the Isaac Elementary District, an “early learner” initiative for pre-K-second grade in nine inner-city schools, a doctoral program for 32 educators on the Navajo reservation, a summer leadership institute for principals and a mentoring program for novice teachers in high-need areas.

Two other partnerships with districts are under way, with the goal of 10 partnerships in the next 10 years.

“I’m looking forward to having Larry’s leadership and vision guiding our efforts in this initiative that is so critically important to ASU and the future of pre-K-12 education in Arizona,” Garcia says. “He will help ASU enter into new and innovative educational partnerships.”

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