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Rock IslandCenter for Math & Science

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Principal's Message

A Message from the Principal


The Rock Island Center for Math & Science (RICMS) is a K-6 choice school that was built in 2010 with a clear commitment to student-centered, integrated learning with an emphasis on math and science. Since that time, RICMS has evolved into a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) driven school with the vision to develop a community of critical thinkers and strong leaders through high expectations...all within a safe and respectful learning environment!

Our most often-asked question: How is Rock Island Center for Math and Science different from our other educational offerings in the Rock Island-Milan School District #41? The answer is simple: we have a three tiered focus on place-based, inquiry-based, and project-based instruction.

Place-based: That means that our students use the environment as a context for learning. They are outside for classroom instruction. They learn geography by working on surveying our campus elevations.  They learn shapes by looking for them in nature and in shadows.  They learn about trees by surveying trees on campus and watching them change over time. What birds and animals live in our woods? Students bird watch and look for tracks to determine those answers. During fall, spring and summer, our students are outside several times a week, often daily, as part of the curriculum.

Inquiry-based: We are a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) school and place focus on the integration of those areas within our core curriculum. Students in our school are encouraged (and taught) to ask good questions and to be able to investigate them to find the answers. We look at the world through questions and empower our students to learn how to answer them.

Project-based: With project-based learning, our instruction is intentionally blended and the school day does not have the typical 55 minute blocks for reading, math, social studies and science. Projects can allow students to address community issues, explore careers, interact with adult mentors, use technology, and present their work to audiences beyond the classroom. Students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and standards at the heart of a project.

While the Rock Island Center for Math & Science is strong in STEAM education, we also realize that strong reading, writing, and comprehension skills are the gateway to other disciplines. RICMS staff dedicate a significant portion of each day to build each child’s literacy through differentiated instruction. Literacy centers, games, guided reading, reading and writing workshops, conferencing, and a variety of other strategies are part of the curriculum. This learning experience provides RICMS students with meaningful opportunities to build connections and utilize emerging and developing skills for a strong, life long learning future!

Our doors are always open and I welcome you to our school! If you are wanting to visit, we’d love to talk with you! Just call! 

John Hawley
Principal, Rock Island Center for Math & Science

Data Makes the Difference at RICMS:
  • Recess precedes lunch because data shows students eat better if they play first.
  • Students have very little homework as data shows that homework does not actually increase academic growth and more often detracts from the down time students need to play and formalize in their heads what happened that day.
  • The first six weeks of school focus on community building because data shows that school connectedness is a prime determinant in academic achievement.