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Middletown Transcript
  • MOT Charter moving ahead with plans to add ninth grade

  • MOT Charter School is in process of inviting students to join its inaugural freshman class and hiring teachers to educate them, even though it doesn't expect to break ground on its new $13 million high school until late spring.
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  • MOT Charter School is in process of inviting students to join its inaugural freshman class and hiring teachers to educate them, even though it doesn’t expect to break ground on its new $13 million high school until late spring.
    “We might not know for certain when the new building will be ready, but we’re moving full steam ahead with our plans to launch the high school program this fall,” Elaine Elston, MOT Charter’s senior high school administrator said this week.
    The Delaware Board of Education approved MOT Charter’s request to add ninth through 12th grades last June.
    After initially hoping to have a new, 77,360-square-foot high school completed in time for the 2014-2015 school year, MOT Charter announced in October that it would be launching its ninth-grade program in a “state-of-the-art” modular building while it awaits county approvals to begin construction of the new school off of Cedar Lane Road.
    The current hope is that the new high school will be ready when MOT Charter adds tenth graders for the 2015-2016 school year.
    The six-room modular should be installed at the school’s existing Levels Road campus sometime around the first week of May, said Jen Taylor, a seventh-grade language arts teacher who also serves as vice chair of the charter school’s board of directors.
    In the meantime, MOT Charter is in the process of enrolling students and hiring faculty members, Elston said.
    Despite the lack of a permanent structure to house them, roughly 250 students submitted applications to join one of the two, separate academies that will be included in the high school – one devoted to the arts and the other to science and technology.
    Sixty students who will join the new high school next year are currently eighth-graders at MOT Charter, each of whom are guaranteed a spot in one of the two academies.
    The remaining 128 seats will be filled by students who currently attend schools elsewhere and were selected by lottery, with preference given to faculty member’s children, siblings of existing students, residents of the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area and the students’ academy preference.
    Invitations to those 128 lottery students were mailed out this week.
    “Our number one goal is to create well-rounded students who will be able to attend and succeed at a four-year college,” Elston said. “We’re not necessarily interested in only the most brilliant or extremely talented students, as much as we want them to all be self-motivated and passionate about learning.”
    MOT Charter also recently extended job offers to eight full-time teachers of core subject areas. By June, the school plans to add another six studio instructors who will remain part-time employees until the high school adds a 12th-grade class during the 2017-2018 school year.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s been really gratifying to see the level of professionalism in the resumes we received for those positions and we’ve had to make some hard choices when it comes to choosing among those outstanding candidates,” Taylor said. “But we believe the candidates we extended offers to were both the most qualified and the most adept at teaching problem-solving skills across subject areas.”
    Elston said the school also has come up with ways to get the most out of its high school program, given the limited space available.
    The ninth graders will each be enrolled in eight, yearlong courses, including six classes in core subject areas and two classes specific to their academies.
    Students will have four, 85-minutes periods with half the classes meeting on Mondays and Wednesday and the other half meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All eight classes will be held on Fridays during shorter blocks.
    “Our ninth graders will start school at 7:30 a.m., an hour earlier than the rest of our students in kindergarten through eighth grade,” Elston said. “That will allow them an opportunity to use the science lab, art and music rooms, gym and library before anyone else starts their day.”
    All the ninth graders also will utilize laptops or tablets, although whether those devices will be school issued or provided by the students has yet to be determined.
    The school also will provide its inaugural ninth-grade class with extra-curricular activities, such as sports, performing arts, math league and other programs that will be determined once enrollment is complete.
    “We’ve already begun the process of seeking out coaches for our ninth-grade teams,” she said, that adding those sports could include basketball, field hockey and soccer. “Our plan is to offer the same sports we offer at the middle school level, although we won’t know for certain until we have gauged the interest level among our ninth graders.”

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