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Proposed Houghton County charter school may open by fall

Copper Island Academy may be a new charter school in Houghton County this year.
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 6:12 PM EST
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HOUGHTON COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Copper Island Academy, a proposed charter school in Houghton County, wants to implement an alternative education model into their school.

Instead of following the traditional American model of education they will implement the Finnish model.

Steve Aho, the principal-to-be, said he thinks kids in the area will like Copper Island Academy for its alternate approach to education.

“As we know,” said Aho. “The Finnish culture is very strong here in the Copper Country. So we felt it was a good fit because the Finns are very strong in the world market in education.”

Aho explained the Finnish model of education depends on a highly optimized schedule. Which for one -- involves switching between a 45-minute on-task time and then 15 minutes of play time throughout the day.

This gives students (and teachers) a break to stay fresh and focused.

“We’ll be doing a lot of unique programming and unique things in our school,” said Nora Laho, director of Copper Island Academy, who explained her role in the school’s creation.

“My job will be to support Steve, the teachers, and the students...” she added. “Making sure those pieces all come together.”

Aho and Laho are both excited to bring part of the Finnish model of education into their plan which Aho said will greatly benefit the students.

“Studies have shown that students are more on task,” he said. “Their test scores are higher, and there are less behavioral problems when students get that opportunity outside the classroom.”

Aho said if the school meets its enrollment numbers, it will need to hire as many as 16 teachers. He explained the school would need to hire more staff than just teachers to operate too.

Charter schools are public schools and receive the same funding by the state as regular public schools.

This means anyone K-8 is able to apply.

“The proposed location is centrally located between Calumet and Hancock in the Airpark Development,” said Laho. “We figure that location allows students from a variety of locations to potentially attend.”

Laho explained if all goes to plan the school may be open by fall 2021.

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