Horizon first district OKA+ school


By Traci Chapman

Mustang Horizon Intermediate School had a lot to celebrate Wednesday, as it was honored at the state Capitol with four other schools recently added to OKA+ school network.

Oklahoma A+ Schools is based at University of Central Oklahoma. The initiative was founded in North Carolina as a research model sponsored by Kenan Institute for the Arts. In 1998, Kirkpatrick Foundation and DaVinci Institution partnered to identify education reform models across the country. University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University researchers approved the program, allowing its inception in the state.

Horizon will join OKA+ as of the 2014-2015 school year, OKA+ executive director Sandra Kent said. The school is the district’s first to be inducted into the program, Kent said.

Other schools added to the network with Horizon were Edgemere and Wheeler elementaries in Oklahoma City, Lakeview Elementary in Norman and Robertson Elementary in Tulsa. More than 70 schools are part of the OKA+ network, ranging from early childhood education through high school.

“To be accepted into the OKA+ network, schools commit to a set of eight A+ Essentials, which they learn about through ongoing professional development provided by professional educators and artists, known as OKA+ Fellows,” Kent said.

Horizon will begin professional training at a summer program, giving teachers the OKA+ “essentials” framework, Kent said. The school will also receive support and research done to help students move toward the future, she said.

“We help them to move beyond the industrial, scripted model of the past, replacing it with one injected with creativity and innovation,” Kent said.

Horizon’s accomplishment showed vision on the part of its administration and teachers, Mustang Superintendent Sean McDaniel said.

“The district is very fortunate to have visionary leadership and a wonderful and forward-thinking staff at Mustang Horizon Intermediate School,” he said. “Becoming a member of the A+ family is not only a prestigious honor, it is a true reflection of the understanding that Principal (Holly) McKinney and her staff have of the important role that the arts plays in wholly educating our students.

“We are pleased and excited for the student body as they begin this new chapter,” McDaniel said.

For more information about OKA+, visit www.aplusok.org or call (405) 974-3779.