Graduate Students Open Title 1 Charter School

Published: August 31, 2020 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 2 minutes

Anthony Sudweeks and Adam GerlachIn 2016, Adam Gerlach and Anthony Sudweeks opened Wallace Stegner Academy, a Title 1 charter school for low-income students in Salt Lake City, Utah. Wallace Stegner is one of the top-ranking charter schools in Utah for language arts, math, and science. Two additional locations will be opening in West Valley, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada in the next few years.

Gerlach and Sudweeks worked together as sixth grade teachers in a low performing middle school in the Salt Lake school district. As highly qualified teachers, they were hired during a turnaround to improve student performance. The majority of students in their classes were performing years below grade level.

To teach and reach every student’s needs, the pair created small groups based on students’ performance level. They then rotated teaching each group and worked on what the students specifically needed help with. Gerlach and Sudweeks’ individualized teaching style brought their classes proficiency levels from 30% to 85% in just one year.

“We worked for years and years to improve outcomes for the kids in our school,” said Sudweeks. “We eventually got tired of working in such a large and slow-moving organization so we threw up our hands and started our own school which now has nearly 800 students and is the highest performing school on the West side of Salt Lake City.”

Wallace Stegner opened in 2016 with about 500 students. The school’s goal is to close the achievement gap in education. Many low income and minority students begin their education career behind other students because of factors out of their control. Charter schools first began to address the achievement gap, and Sudweeks and Gerlach are working to make that idea a reality.

“Each year has gotten better and better,” said Gerlach. “We spend our time and energy training teachers, and it has a great effect. We are one of the poorest schools in the state, but we are also the top-performing Title 1 charter school.”

Gerlach and Sudweeks enrolled in SUU’s online education program to earn their graduate degrees in education and administrative licenses. They decided to attend SUU because a large number of Utah school principals earn certification through SUU's school leadership program.

"We are proud of our learners Adam Gerlach and Anthony Sudweeks who have chosen to learn alongside SUU's LEAD professors and learners to make change effective in learners and in programs,” said Dr. Tony Pellegrini, director of graduate studies. “We are honored to be a small part of Gerlach and Sudweeks' success in improving student achievement in K-12 learners! It is through these collaborative and empowering associations and activities that we can reach out and touch the lives of learners in the Intermountain West."

The College of Education and Human Development is a flagship program at SUU. The education department strives to develop educators who are academically competent, experienced, prepared, understand the need for both art and science in education and have effective classroom management. Learn more about SUU's graduate studies in education.

Tags: Master of Education

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