Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two public charter schools planned for peninsula in 2014

Tuition-free schools would focus on music education, ‘blended’ online learning

Posted by Paul Bowers on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Two public charter schools could be coming to the Charleston peninsula in the fall of 2014, one a music-focused school for grades 6-12 and the other a "blended learning" school for grades K-8 that features online and in-person instruction. The charter committees from both schools will hold a public information meeting on Thurs. April 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Arthur W. Christopher Community Center (256 Fishburne St.).

The first of the two schools, the Charter School of Musically Inspired Minds, will feature two-and-a-half hours per day of music instruction, according to spokesperson Jennifer Metts. In addition to instrument instruction, students will take elective classes on topics including jazz history and audio engineering. According to the school's website, "An emphasis on creativity will be at the core of the MIM program, using music as a medium for developing each student's creative abilities, and then extending that creativity into other subject areas." The school, which has a charter committee headed by Charleston Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Danny Beckley, plans to begin by enrolling students in grades 6-9 in 2014.

The other school, the Carolina Voyager Charter School, will combine "traditional classroom teaching with individualized instruction and online technology to meet the specific needs of each and every student," according to a press release. Metts, who is also a spokesperson for the Voyager school, says students will do all of their work in the classroom, where they will rotate between working at desks, on desktop computers, and on tablet computers. "It allows each student to work at their own pace, and it also allows the teacher to focus more attention on the ones who need one-on-one attention," Metts says. The school's plan is to start enrolling grades K-2 in 2014 and add a grade each year through the eighth grade.

Depending on whether the two schools gain accreditation from the Charleston County School District or the S.C. Public Charter School District, the schools will be open to either Charleston County students or all South Carolina students. Neither school will charge tuition or give admissions tests.

Metts says the two schools are unrelated, with separate charter committees, but they have chosen to hold a joint informational meeting since they both plan to open downtown. The schools are seeking families to sign Letters of Student Interest, non-binding documents that are used to prove community interest in potential charter schools to the S.C. Department of Education.

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