May 10, 2022
As COVID-19 struck the Springfield, Missouri community and changed our way of life, The Discovery Center stepped up to fill the educational gap with their Discovery School. Amidst lockdowns, working from home and the closure of in-person learning at Springfield Public Schools in March 2020, The Discovery Center offered free childcare to healthcare workers and first-responders. Taking those same safety models, they created an in-person learning experience paired with their innovative STEM education.
The Discovery School opened in August of 2020. The school can serve up to 90 students at two locations and anticipates adding more classrooms in the upcoming semesters. Through partnerships with the Ozark Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC), the Discovery Center has been able to serve 30% of the school population who come from families living at least 125% below Missouri’s poverty line. In addition to transformational classroom experiences, students have access to the 60,000 sq ft science center and partnerships with organizations like NASA, local universities and the Smithsonian.
Within 48 hours of the school initial opening in August of 2020 all their available slots were filled. For almost two years, the Discovery School has primarily served students coming from emergency child care. They base their courses not on age level, but rather on academic level and are individualized based on behavior — meeting students where they’re at.
“The biggest thing is that kids, families, parents needed this — and we responded to the need,” said Discovery Center Executive Director Rob Blevins.
One student came to the school from Harmony House, a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence. Age-wise they were expected to be in fifth grade, but was only at a second grade level in math. After attending several schools, they finally arrived at the Discvoery School, where teachers were able to get them to a fifth grade level in only one semester.
Today, The Discovery Center hosted a ribbon cutting with the Springfield Chamber of Commerce for the Discovery School to celebrate their new open enrollment. The school also showcased musical performances from current students and hosted tours of the school.
“Our team earned the nickname Team Incredibles during the pandemic because we did whatever it took to help kids. Now that we can safely gather, we are excited to invite the community to come celebrate closing the learning loss gaps for so many children,” said Jackie Douglas, Discovery School Vice President of Education.
The Discovery School offers all the core educational requirements, as well as visual and fine arts instruction, foreign language and physical education. All of which are based within STEM principles. A student may do an art project or write an English essay about a particular STEM subject that they are interested in. The school day runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but an after school program is also available to students.
The Discovery School is located inside The Discovery Center in Downtown Springfield, just a one block away from Park Central Square. Downtown Springfield is not only a prime location for parents to enjoy time with their kids, but it can also provide them with a top-notch education.
“There’s a reason to stay downtown — you can raise your children here. There’s an award winning school available now,” said Blevins.
You can learn more about the Discovery School and inquire about enrollment at discoverycenter.org/school.