Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness understands that quality schools are a major draw for families looking to move to a new community. That’s why he and Hamilton Southeastern Schools Supt. Allen Bourff partnered to better create CurioCity, an online portal that allows teachers access a variety of experiences and opportunities for students, such as guest speakers, panelists, apprenticeships, internships, externships, study trips, project-based learning and service-based learning.
Fishers announced the program during the 2018 State of the City. A pilot version has been in the works ever since. Fadness said the community-classroom software concept was born out of the idea of connecting the schools with the community.
“It truly is a partnership. Dr. Bourff has the schools and we have the community, and we wanted to build a bridge between the two of them,” Fadness said.
To launch the partnership, the city paid $250,000 for KSM Consulting to create software to make resources such as field studies and connections to various organization be available to teachers. HSE Schools will then apply the software.
“My team scoured the country trying to find another community doing this and a product they could use, and they couldn’t find anything,” Fadness said. “I do believe we are charting new territory trying to create this.”
Bourff said the CurioCity program allows students to develop an appreciation for their community and build upon the natural inquiry kids possess.
“We are trying to break the walls of the school into the community so that the community becomes the classroom, representing a place where students can have projects that affect something bigger than themselves,” Bourff said. “It might be a place they can experiment with career aspirations, and take it from people in those careers on how to better prepare themselves for the future.”
Educational experiences CurioCity offers for students includes fourth-graders visiting Conner Prairie to learn about Indiana history from a STEM-based perspective, and sixth-graders visiting the YMCA to complete a field study on wellness and other topics.
Fadness said Fishers will benefit from CurioCity in multiple ways.
“People swim across oceans to provide their kids a better life than they had, so for me to attract talent into this community, our school systems have to be noticed as the best school system anywhere for a child,” Fadness said. “We are creating a world-class experience for our kids by leveraging the community, and by doing that, we will ensure the long-term sustainability of our city because it’s a No. 1 motivator to ensure your children will have a better life, a better opportunity than you had, so that’s what we are trying create here.”
Currently, 617 teachers out of approximately 1,300 within the district are trained on the software. Bourff said he wants all teachers to be trained on the software by the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.
For more, visit curiocityhub.com.
Utilizing teachers to further develop CurioCity
This summer, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said he expects to hire three to five Hamilton Southeastern Schools teachers to further work with organizations to determine which experiences would be best to include on the CurioCity software.
“We have lots of businesses who would love to be engaged with the schools, but what we learned, because we are all new to this, is when we would talk to these businesses and asked if they were interested, we would tell them to write down 20 ideas on how students can engage in the business, and that’s when we would get blank stares back,” Fadness said. “That’s not what they do for a living. That’s not what businesses spend their time doing, so we learned we need to bring educators into that conversation. Based on that, I think educators will come up with all kinds of ideas.”