The Academy of Math and Science (AMS), a K-8 STEAM school, broke ground in Peoria on Saturday, Jan. 12. AMS CEO Kim Chayka said they aim to provide a quality education for Peoria’s neglected lower-income, lower-performing south side.
“Our school network is focused on areas that need high-quality schools,” he said. “We are excited to serve this neighborhood.”
Speakers at the event included Mayor Pro Tem Vicki Hunt, President of Peoria Chamber of Commerce Guy Erickson, Arizona newly-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and President of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, Kathy Senseman.
In a touching moment, which brought tears to Mrs. Senseman’s eyes, she stated:
“It makes me so proud as a resident to have something that’s here in the community that’s going to transform south Peoria… the word of mouth of what this school is doing and what it is doing to transform the community… that is why I am on this Board, that is why I am fighting for charter schools at the state capitol, that is why I am defending them in the newspaper, for exactly what you are doing here today. It is so rare that there is something in my backyard that is as phenomenal as your school, and I am so proud to be here today.”
The new school, to be named Academy of Math and Science Peoria Advanced, is expected to enroll over 800 students.
“We conducted a study of 1,200 parents that expressed interest in our schools and found that they were looking for a more personalized education,” Chayka said. “Parents are concerned that their child’s full potential are not being met. They worry that they’re not being challenged enough and find their other options lacking.”
AMS will be the first K-8 charter school to open in the neighborhood in nine years. As a network, they have seen success entering low-performing communities and turning around student achievement. The charter school is known for providing a college-preparatory Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) focused education, supplemented by music and foreign languages.
Chayka said AMS plans to replicate their Prince campus, which is ranked number 1 out of 117 schools K-8 in Tucson by the Education Equality Index and won the 2016 AZ Charter School of the Year award. AMS’s Phoenix campuses are currently 1st and 2nd highest rated schools on GreatSchools.org within a 3-mile radius by number of 5-star parent reviews.
“We are working together with parents to create a school to set students in the neighborhood on the path to college and beyond.” stated Mr. Chayka adding, “Our school network believes neighborhood transformation starts with better school options.”