Ridgeline Academy is a charter school in North Phoenix. The school director is Mr. Barker, who holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and has received multiple accolades from the education community, has some unorthodox teaching methods. Ridgeline Academy has received an “A” rating every year, and serves over 600 students in grades K – 8.
The goal of Ridgeline Academy is to create a new way of educating students without being bound by traditionally normed methodology. Students go to the classes that best fit their needs, following a “walk to read” format, but instead of limiting this to ELA classes, it is done with all core classes. Their special education department is integrated into the classroom; with pullouts only for students whose Individualized Learning Plan (IEP) indicates a need for this type of instruction. Ridgeline’s foci have resulted in overall significant academic performance gains. The school has made great strides since changing hands.
Before students begin Kindergarten, they are encouraged to attend a “Kinder Boot Camp” which is held throughout the summer. Parents can sign up their students for one of several weeks that is offered, and their student has the opportunity then to get to know the teacher and practice some basics required when the students begin school.
Ridgeline Academy’s attendance rate is stellar. At 96%, this is well above the school average for Arizona, which according to the National Center for Education Statistics is 82.6% (Digest of Education Statistics, 2018).
Walking through the hallways, it is clear that the students both love and respect the principal, Mr. Barker. Numerous students stop to greet him, and he knows all their names. He is ready for individual questions about a student’s weekend soccer game or recent vacation. Student work is plastered all over the walls, and student movement is purposeful. No trash is evident, and the bathrooms are clean of both trash and graffiti. These points attest to the school’s culture and mission, of “fostering critical thinking among students, promoting academic excellence, and instilling a culture of lifelong learning” (About, 2018).
Over the past three years, Ridgeline Academy’s performance has dramatically improved. Achievement has risen in all areas except Students With Disabilities (ADE, 2018), as explained later. The community loves the school, giving it a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Google.com (2018). Furthermore, a community member shares on GreatSchools.org that Ridgeline Academy is “A committed family made up of administration, educators, parents, and students. This community investments [sic] yields inquisitive, motivated, and happy children. I expect it to get even better as these terrific young minds mature” (2018) and “Love everything about this school!!!! AAAA++++” (2018).