School in the Park is an innovative program that shifts the location of "school" from a traditional classroom setting in an inner-city school, to the resources and educational opportunities available at museums in Balboa Park. A relevant instructional environment is created as hands-on learning challenges students to become active participants in their own education.
Rosa Parks Elementary School and Wilson Middle School participate in a program that is designed to fully utilize the unique educational opportunities of San Diego’s cultural institutions in Balboa Park. The plan allows third, fourth, and fifth grade students to spend eight weeks, and sixth and seventh grades to spend four weeks at San Diego’s famous Balboa Park, where they participate in week-long educational programs at ten institutions. In essence, the students spend almost twenty-five percent of their time learning in this hands-on, real world setting.
Visits to museums and cultural institutions bring meaning to the printed page because many of the students do not have prior knowledge about the variety of subjects covered in their school materials. Hence, the Park Program has the potential to engage students in learning that has real world connections.
With the implementation of the California Common Core State Standards now fully underway, the SITP program can also be recognized as providing essential authentic performance opportunities that serve as a model of Common Core instruction. The curriculum has always emphasized integration of basic skills with content knowledge, used project-based instruction to provide meaningful context for learning, and encouraged critical thinking and problem solving as the means to actively engage students.