This week, May 4th - 10th, marks National Charter Schools Week and students, parents, teachers, and communities across the state and country are celebrating the many successes of public charter schools. Here are some of the events planned in NH:
National Charter Schools Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about charter schools. There are four primary objectives to the New Hampshire Charter School Program:
Currently, there are 18 public charter schools that are operating in NH and four more are expected to open in August/September 2014. Under the current federal grant, four (4) Charter Schools opened to serve a high population of disadvantaged youth at the secondary level; Making Community Connections (MC²) Charter School, Next Charter School, PACE (personal academic and career experience) Career Academy Charter School, and TEAMS Charter School (Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Science). There are also several established schools that fit that category; Cocheco Arts and Technology Academy, Great Bay eLearning, Ledyard Charter, North Country Charter, and VLACS.
Making Community Connections, grades 6-12, Manchester
Making Community Connections Charter School provides the conditions that enable each individual student to become empowered with the knowledge and skills to use his/her voice effectively and with integrity in co-creating our world. From the head of the school - part of our expectation is students write a daily 200 word reflection called an End of Day. Here is a small excerpt from a student, "I don't despair about going to school anymore. I don't try to fake being sick to get out anymore. I don't hate school, which is the best thing to happen to me this year."
Next Charter School, grades 9-12, Derry
Next meets the needs of students not fully served within a traditional high school and employs a system of instructional and assessment practices that values competency, inquiry, flexibility, and the social nature of learning so that all students will graduate and initiate post-secondary learning options.
PACE Career Academy, grades 9-12, Allenstown
PACE is dedicated to allowing students to partner in the design of their academic, career and personal growth paths with a goal of becoming an essential part of their community, family and world of work. This non-traditional high school offers a highly personalized combination of personal development, core academics and career experience.
TEAMS, grades 9-12, Penacook
TEAMS Charter School expands opportunities for all students, offering a sound college prep program with a career focus. TEAMS students use online course and direct instruction. The students choose TEAMS knowing that the engineering component is a key part of their STEM mission. Concurrent with this mission is the articulated pathway into a certificate program, NHTI or four year college enhanced by early exposure to careers.
Cocheco Arts and Technology Academy (CATA), grades 9-12, Dover
CATA is a college preparatory, public charter school established in 2004 to serve 9th-12th grade students with specialized interests in arts and technology. One senior graduating on June 13, 2014, grew up in a difficult family situation. At CATA, this student found the support and positive inspiration not only to complete high school but to go on to college. She was named a 2014 Horatio Alger National Scholar and has received a $21,000.00 scholarship. She has been accepted at Keene State College where she plans to attend in the fall. She will be the first member of her family to attend college.
Great Bay eLearning Charter School, grades 7-12, Exeter
Great Bay eLearning Charter School (GBeCS) provides an alternative approach for educating students in grades 7-12 by emphasizing project-based learning in a smaller, flexible, supportive learning environment. All attendees are required to apply to college and they have100% acceptance rate. GBeCS recently completed a student voice program that gathered students from all over the state in a program led by students addressing the ways in which high school redesign does or would work best.
Ledyard, grades 9-12, Lebanon
Ledyard Charter School (LCS) prepares students for their futures, both academically and socially, in a rigorous academic program that stresses the importance of community and allows students to apply their learning in context. Students who once struggled to survive in school now regularly attend, fully participate in their education, celebrate their accomplishments, and set goals for their futures. Students have won the Skills USA speech contest and won awards at the at the Hartford Area Career and Tech Center in Business Administration, Industrial Mechanics and Welding, Design Illustration Media Arts, and the Cooperative Learning program. They leave LCS prepared to be happy, healthy, successful adults who want to invest in themselves and their communities.
North Country Charter School Academy (NCCA), grades 7-12, Littleton
Ten Superintendents started NCCA to address the dropout rate – the area was large geographically, small in population, and too poor to support separate school recovery programs. Students who are, or may be, at risk of dropping out are provided an educational setting in which they can succeed in their pursuit of a high school diploma. In the nine years of operation there has been a 74% decrease of students not receiving a high school diploma in that region. By 2013 the academy graduated 327 students, 77 were prior school drop outs.
Virtual Learning Academy Charter School
Over a thousand students choose VLACS. VLACS is a competency based virtual school that partners with every HS, most middle schools and thousands of home educated students throughout NH to expand educational opportunities by increasing course options through a flexible model that stresses building strong working relationships with students and their families. Each year VLACS works with students that are at high risk of dropping out and help them meet requirements for a diploma.
The other nine Charter Schools are: Academy for Science and Design Charter School, Nashua; CSI Charter School (Competencies, Skills and Interests), Penacook; Mill Falls Charter School, Manchester; Polaris Charter School, Manchester; Robert Frost Charter School, North Conway; Seacoast Charter School, Kingston; Strong Foundations Charter School, Pembroke; Surry Village Charter School; and The Birches Academy of Academics & Art, Salem. For more information about all the NH Charter Schools please go to www.education.nh.gov/instruction/school_improve/charter or contact Roberta Tenney at Roberta.Tenney@doe.nh.gov or (603) 271-2079.