NORTH LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — There are a lot of firsts for the Clark County School District this year — not only distance education, but also opening the only K-8 school in the valley.
The campus even received a special visit Friday.
Jo Mackey Academy was originally the location for the former elementary magnet school, but it expanded this year to include a middle school and got a brand new building that superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara toured.
Strolling the halls and dropping in on virtual classes, Superintendent Jara visited Jo Mackey Academy of Digital Sciences on Friday.
“I think what we wanted here was really build on the great work that was happening here at the magnet elementary and bring it forward to our middle school population,” Superintendent Jara said.
“I’m a fan of the K-8,” Superintendent Jara continued. “I’m excited. I think it’s a great model and a great idea.”
This idea became reality following parent support and Principal Kemala Washington and others petitioning the district.
“Our community had this vision about two years ago when we knew we were getting a replacement school,” said Principal Washington.
Construction finished for this academic year, but only teachers are allowed inside the building as the district continues full-time distance education.
“Stress has just been technology — getting everything up and running and working for the kids,” said 6th grade teacher Deb Wilhite.
Some educators shared their challenges with Dr. Jara. Despite adjustments, staff expect success with the new school model overall.
“We just believe so strongly in what the research tells us that when children don’t have to make that transition from elementary to a comprehensive middle school, it’s just better for them,” Principal Washington said. “It’s better for them academically, it’s better for them socially.”
“There’s a great effort for us to be completive,” added Superintendent Jara. “I think this puts us in a great opportunity for choice for our families and for our kids.”
There is a sixth grade class with roughly 90 students. They will roll up each year to fill out seventh and then eighth grade.
It is estimated the total student population will be 800 in two years.