EL CENTRO â€“ The Ballington Academy for the Arts and Sciences in El Centro gives parents and students an alternative to regular public schools.
â€œThis is a really exciting time for us here at Ballington,â€ said Stacey Hayasaka, principal. â€œWe are fortunate to be awarded at the state level the very first Career Technical Education (CTE) Credentialed Engineering Program in California for grades Kindergarten through sixth. What our kids are learning is absolutely awesome.â€
Ballington Academy is a charter school. Anyone in the State of California that has a child from transitional kindergarten to sixth grade can enroll without the need of an inter-district transfer.
â€œEven though we appear to be a private school, we are free to the public,â€ explained Hayasaka. â€œWe are funded by the State of California and overseen by the El Centro School Board. Our classes are aligned with Common Core standards and our teachers are fully credentialed.â€
In addition to the engineering program with a science and engineering laboratory, Ballington offers a technology laboratory for computer sciences, art classes, including painting and sculpture, orchestra, and the Ballington Dance Academy.
â€œWe offer classes that are not offered in public schools,â€ said Hayasaka. â€œWe have the same high standards that you would expect in public schools. Our engineering and very focused art programs are not available in public schools.â€
Ballington uses a hands-on project based learning approach.
â€œIâ€™m excited by our school and its programs,â€ said Hayasaka. â€œWe have the philosophy that the best way for children to learn is to understand how to apply those skills in the real world. It is nice if you can pass a test and get a good grade,” she said. “Ultimately, it is our belief that the reason why you come to school is to be able to carry those skills with you into the real world. When we teach Common Core mathematics, for example, we teach the same skills you would expect in public schools, but we then allow our student to go into our science and engineering labs and then apply those math skills into their science projects.â€
â€œWe are aligned with the next generation science standards which are the NGSS standards developed by NASA,â€ continued Hayasaka. â€œIn terms of science curriculum, we are ahead of the curve. That particular adoption of science standards has already happened at the state level. Most schools have not progressed to those standards because the curriculum at the state level has not been adopted, so, there are no textbooks out yet for it. We actually wrote our own curriculum for the NGSS standards. Our professor for science and engineering is an engineering professor with a master in mechanical engineering. He takes what the students are learning in math and shows them real world applications for it.â€
According to Hayasaka, 87% of Ballington students performed proficient to advanced on science CSTs.
â€œPart of our charter is to stay a very small school,â€ said Hayasaka. â€œWe never exceed 25 students in a class. This affords our students a lot of individual attention. After school tutoring is also offered.â€
Ballington Academy is located at 1525 West Main Street in Valley Plaza in El Centro. Enrollment forms are available online at www.ballingtonacademy.org. They can be reached at 760-353-0140.
â€œWe are in our enrollment period right now,â€ said Hayasaka. â€œWe have a really different and neat program that you just cannot find anywhere. We have so much to offer.â€
Ballington Academy will have an open house enrollment night Wednesday, April 1, at 5:30 p.m.