MOUNTAINBURG, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — After Mountainburg Middle School Brain Academy (MMS) received multiple grants, the school was not only able to create a physical fitness program, but also revamp its curriculum.

To qualify for the specific grants the school sought, it had to become a charter school.

In 2019, MMS applied to be a conversion charter school through the Department of Education’s charter school program.

The school’s request was approved and administrators then applied for the Charter Schools Program Grant through the Arkansas Public School Resource Center.

Mountainburg Middle School Brain Academy received a $100,000 planning grant and a $525,000 implementation grant.

According to Principal Julie Ferguson, because more than 60% of students get free or reduced lunch, the school also received a $625,000 supplemental grant.

A chunk of that $1,250,000 was spent to purchase gym equipment and outside obstacle courses for the school’s newly developed Dragon Fitness Training program.

It also funded enriching curriculum in literacy and science, as well as training for teachers.

The school’s English curriculum ‘Wit and Wisdom’ requires students practice writing and speaking about the literature they reading on a daily basis.

‘Project Lead the Way’ is the science curriculum that asks students to solve real-life problems they would encounter in their everyday lives and future careers.

“What it does is take all the things that they learn in their science and math classes and put it in their hands,” said teacher Zach Pense.

The students pictured above are using a dial caliper, a measuring tool typically used by machinists or mechanics.

Pense had his students use it to measure objects of different shapes and sizes.

“You get that question, well, why do we need this? In your standard English, math, science classes, where am I going to use this? This program shows them.”