PIKE ROAD, AL (WSFA) - The end of the first school year is wrapping up for Pike Road Schools.
"It's been a great year," exclaims Dr. Suzanne Freeman, superintendent of Pike Road Schools.
Looking back over the past year, Freeman says it hasn't always been easy.
"It was challenging for people," claims Freeman.
Besides the fact that this was the very first year for the school system, Pike Road Schools doesn't teach traditionally and instead follows the method of what's called project based learning.
"Project based learning makes learning authentic for children and they can see application of what they are doing to other things, so it motivates them and draws them in," explains Freeman.
After our interview with Dr. Freeman, we ran into a parent who also is an assistant at the school.
"My biggest concern is what is that child learning in that classroom," says Candice Longnecker.
Longnecker has a first grader, fourth grader, and sixth grader at the school. She also serves as a teacher's aide in fifth grade. She says at first she was concerned with the learning style and admits that's actually why she spent every day at the school.
"All my worries went away because the teaching is so fantastic," said Longnecker.
Yet even with the teaching style, Freeman says there is a learning curve for everyone and the system plans to not only assess students as they do now, but give older ones actual grades for them to have on record.
Freeman say there are other things the school system is working through as they look towards next school year.
"A few areas where we are going to have a little more structure for kids is be clear about expectations for them. We have some strugglers [sic] and then we have some children who are above grade level. We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of all those children. I think we have done a good job on that, but I think there is still room to do a better job on that," says Freeman.
Superintendent Freeman says a major challenge has also been the overcrowding. She says they are at 1,144 students, which is more than what they were expecting and educators had to get creative with space.
She says they are working on that though, adding modulare pods.
Seventh, eighth, and a new grade for the system next year, ninth grade, will use that space.