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UPDATE: Saugus Union votes to reopen Emblem next school year

Rewrites completely with new school focus, new principal interview, other details

Posted: January 23, 2013 9:42 a.m.
Updated: January 23, 2013 5:08 p.m.

Donald Potter with Pieri Woodworks installs a cabinet in a classroom Tuesday in the new two-story building under construction at Emblem Elemetary in Saugus. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

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Emblem Elementary School will have a new look, a new emphasis, a new principal and potentially a new name when it opens its doors for the 2013-2014 school year.

The new look comes from more than two years of renovation to modernize the school and construct a new two-story building on the site.

Emblem Elementary was closed for renovation for three years before reopening during the 2009-2010 school year. The Saugus Union School District then closed the school again for further construction.

The new emphasis revolves around the district’s decision to reopen the school with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math, known collectively as STEM.

And Jon Baker, newly appointed principal of Emblem, said the school’s educational model will seek to combine the principles of STEM education with other approaches, including hands-on educational projects like school gardens and an extra focus on teaching business principles, entrepreneurship and ethics.

Collectively, Baker called this approach ESTEEM: ethics, science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and math.

Baker acknowledged the district’s budget — which has been squeezed at least five years along with all other state public school budgets — posed a challenge for reopening and operating Emblem.

But he said he was confident the school could offer such an educational model at a relatively low cost.

“A lot of this isn’t brain surgery,” Baker said. “It’s taking things we’re familiar with and putting it together in a package that makes sense.”

Another issue for Emblem has been declining enrollment, at least in part because the school was due to accept students from an area whose development languished.

Emblem’s enrollment stands at 155 students in its temporary quarters, and the numbers need to hit about 500 for the school to open, Baker said. But he added he was confident the district would have no problem filling the school.

“Often when you have a STEM school, or any focus or charter school, there’s usually a waiting line to get in,” Baker said. “Hopefully we can create a real unique interest in Emblem.”

As for the potential new name, the district will consider renaming the school Emblem Academy, according to district Superintendent Joan Lucid.

Among those familiar things at Emblem is Baker, who was the school’s principal in 2000. Baker said Wednesday that he is looking forward to returning to the school.

“I really enjoy being at the school site,” Baker said. “It’s very inspiring to be around the students and the teachers there.”

Baker also said he is excited to implement the ESTEEM model, which he said he has not been seen at any other school site.

Work on the school is not yet complete, but the district plans to have everything done in time for an open house on Feb. 20.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney






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