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Today at Saturn School of Tomorrow

Rebecca Jones

from The Executive Educator *
May 1994


More criticism came when the yearly evaluations of the school were released. The reports were nonjudgmental but reported things that were working well (like the students' enthusiasm for learning) and things that weren't (like the staff's apparent confusion over who should be doing what).

Prompted partly by the criticism, partly by the belt-tightening that occurred everywhere, and partly by a change in players - David Bennett, a strong supporter of the Saturn School, left the Saint Paul superintendency to begin work with the private Educational Alternatives Inc. - the Saint Paul School Board began to modify its commitment to the Saturn School. The school is still open, but some of the things that made Saturn special are gone. Once open an extra five weeks each year, the school now follows the regular school year, and its teachers are paid according to the same scale as the rest of Saint Paul's teachers.

After a brief growth period, Saturn is back to about the size it was when it opened. The school could accommondate more students, but school officials attribute its small size , in part , to the fact that the school has no primary grades. "It's hard to get kids to change schools in the fourth grade," says Stephen Schellenberg, supervisor of student data management. The district is considering adding primary grades in the fall of 1995.

The personalized curriculum has "been balanced with a more traditional curriculum," says Hopkins, and the Saturn students' test scores are now on par with those of other Saint Paul students. Some Saturn children now use textbooks, some sit in a space that resembles a classroom, but some still work on their own interests at their own pace.

"It's not the same," says Hopkins, who has moved on to the Technology and Special Services division of the Saint Paul Public Schools, "but it's still a wonderful place."

* Originally posted at the Penn State College of Education's former special website section on the Saturn School of Tomorrow at