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  • SPARK School at Kyrene de las Manitas

    Team Teaching. Dynamic Learning. Open Spaces.


    Kyrene School District is committed to providing engaging, challenging educational environments which promote and inspire passion for learning, leading, and achieving. In 2019, the District launched a new program that reimagines the standard classroom structure by combining innovative practices in learning environments, methods and staffing. 

    SPARK can serve up to 120 students per learning studio, taught by a core team of educators: one Teacher Executive Designer (TED), along with certified teachers and teacher candidates. Two studios are housed on the campus of Kyrene de las Manitas, in a learning studio that is open and dynamic, equipped with furniture designed for flexibility and collaboration.

    This model is the culmination of two years of effort that involved more than 100 Kyrene stakeholders participating in a design process facilitated by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Community input and participation is an important part of the process and continues to influence the program’s design.


    Teacher and students using computer
    Member of the SPARK teacher team engaging with students 


    Letter from Principal Collins

    Welcome to SPARK school at Manitas! I am the proud principal, Dr. Sarah Collins. Although I have only been the principal here for two years, I am no stranger to Manitas, having taught here from 1998-2012. I know first-hand that Manitas is a special place! We are nestled in a quiet Tempe neighborhood, which is the perfect location for our innovative schooling experience called SPARK. SPARK offers a personalized, project based learning approach in an extremely innovative environment. Our central location offers access to families both resident and non-resident to experience our unique teaching and learning opportunities. Currently we have 3rd-6th grade students in the SPARK program with our eyes set on expanding to a K-7 model in the 2022-23 school year and K-8 in the 2023-24 school year.

    A unique aspect of SPARK is its use of technology for teaching and learning. The benefits of this use of technology are numerous. The 1:1 aspect allows for faster and more efficient delivery of lessons and a reduction in the need for textbooks and other printed material, making learning more interesting and engaging. We offer true personalization of learning to students with the specific technology in the program. This has given students the opportunity to build technology-based skills and utilize tools they are sure to use in the future.

    When it comes to the curriculum students learn, SPARK utilizes a project based learning model. PBL has been shown to promote independence, active learning, and encourage problem-solving skills.  We have found higher learner satisfaction due to our Student-Centered and Student-Driven instruction. We promote learner agency by fostering self-assessment skills and teaching students how to manage projects and assignments. Students develop interpersonal skills, as well as skills working in a team, while having their social emotional needs met in a safe, caring environment. Curriculum is delivered in a multi-disciplinary format, with learner-centered activities, cooperative lessons and authentic assessments. Learning in SPARK is experiential, embodied and blended.

    We are proud of what we have accomplished since the pilot year of SPARK in the 2019-2020 school year and are hopeful for what the future holds for our SPARK at Manitas students, staff and community. We believe strongly in our personalized, project based learning approach and encourage you to reach out to our school if you are interested in exploring this option for your child.

    We look forward to you learning with us!


    Dr. Sarah Collins, Principal


    The Learning Experience

    SPARK is designed to prepare students for colleges and careers that are changing rapidly. Students have a chance to explore real world issues and meaningful topics over the course of several weeks, to building knowledge on each topic through literature, research and hands-on practice. Students simultaneously master grade level standards and work toward a final project that puts all of their learning to work.

    The SPARK learning studios look, sound and feel different from a typical classroom. There are fewer walls, a variety of different learning spaces and state-of-the-art techology. SPARK teachers encourage and facilitate discussion, collaboration and healthy debate. Students will learn to question themselves and their peers, to foster a growth mindset.



    The SPARK School is located on the Kyrene de las Manitas campus. SPARK expanded in the 2021-22 school year from three grade levels to four, including grades 3–6, with the intent to continue expanding each year, pending Governing Board approval, as students advance to grade 8. Interested families are invited to enroll online.



    SPARK Name Reveal

    Background and Development Information

    The purpose of this initiative was to design innovative solutions to challenges in education by using an open-ended design process that values local context, diverse perspectives, entrepreneurial thinking and testing of solutions. View the development process below:

  • Why the need for something new and different?

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Last Modified on October 25, 2021