The San Mateo-Foster City School District has a number of magnet schools, each emphasizing a certain theme to better student success.
Though magnet schools meet the same standards as the other schools within the district, they go further by specializing in specific areas and giving students more opportunities to gain new skills.
“Children learn in different ways and at different rates,” said Amber Farinha, Coordinator of Community Services for the district. “At Magnet schools, where thematic-based instruction offers a variety of teaching strategies, children flourish.”
The district offers 12 magnet programs – eight elementary school programs and four middle school programs.
The Bayside S.T.E.M. Academy, which collaborates with Stanford University, is a school specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students pick a specific area of focus and continue on that path throughout the two years. In eighth grade, students may pick a related minor or arts course.
Borel Middle Years International Baccalaureate Candidate School offers eight areas of emphasis: English language arts, Spanish, social studies, science, mathematics, physical education, technology applications and visual and performing arts.
“Central to the IB Middle Years Program are the Areas of Interaction, which are used as lenses or themes through which students learn the California State Standards,” according to the program’s description in the choice catalog. “The five Areas of Interaction are approaches to learning, human ingenuity, community and service, health and social education and environments.”
The College Park Mandarin Immersion/Talented and Gifted Education programs offer teachers trained in gifted and talented instruction, a Mandarin program and is home to the district’s G.A.T.E. program. The Mandarin immersion starts in preschool and moves to a 50 percent one-way immersion program taught by teachers fluent in the language. Older students have the option of taking additional linguistic and cultural classes as electives.
“Students become more excited about school when the subject clicks with their learning style,” said Farinha.
Fiesta Gardens International School offers a global studies program to go along with its two-way Spanish-English immersion program. Once graduated from Fiesta Gardens, students can continue their immersion education at Abbot Middle School.
At George Hall School, students experience accelerated project-based learning.
“At a project based learning school, we have the ability to integrate science and social studies into the curriculum,” said Kathy Pratt, a second grade teacher at George Hall Elementary School. “I feel that children are more engaged during the projects and are learning at a deeper level.”
Horrall School offers visual and performing arts programs as well as technology integration. Professional artists in the fields of dance, theater, music and visual arts teach the students.
Two Montessori programs are offered in the school district as well: North Shoreview Montessori School and Parkside Montessori Program offered at Parkside Elementary. The Montessori curriculum is based on the work of educator Maria Montessori’s belief that teaching should be individualized and aware of developmental needs.
San Mateo Park Math and Science School specializes in math and science education and features gardens,labs and science fairs to further students’ education.
"I love it, love it, love it, love it...Did I say love it?" said Lark Leet, parent of two students enrolled in San Mateo Park Math and Science School. "I don't have much experience to compare, I just know they like it and I like it."
"We are a science family," she added.
Lastly, Sunnybrae Elementary School, an IB World School, is part of a network of over 2000 schools in 129 countries around the world. With an international focus, the school offers inquiry based learning, in which students go out and do real world interviews and have their own congress.
“Attending magnet schools can help hone these interests and introduce a style of teaching, methods, or resources that they may not get at other schools,” said Pratt. “Also, the staff at a magnet school is all working together to achieve their goals.”
For more information about Magnet schools call 650-312-7250 or visit http://smfc-ca.schoolloop.com/magnet.