Longer school days on tap for Mississippi's first charter school - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Longer school days on tap for Mississippi's first charter schools

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The state's new charter schools say more time in the classroom could make a big difference. Mississippi’s first two charters are in Jackson, ReImagine Prep and Midtown Public. But other communities are hoping to expand the model statewide.

"We're really excited about getting open," said Midtown Public Head of School Adam Mangana.

Screwdrivers, nails and ladders will soon be replaced with books, computers and backpacks at MidTown Public Charter. The building is still being renovated. Students will attend the first week of classes on the Jackson State University campus. Mangana said it's a tradition they'll continue every year. They'd like the students to begin with the end goal of college in sight.

There isn't a screening process. The only requirement is that the child lives within the public school district.

"We have young geniuses in Mississippi and all too often they don't have the same opportunities based on the zip code," described Mangana.

They're keeping it small. 52 students in each grade. Kids will spend more time than usual learning here. A school day at Midtown Public is 7:30 to 4:30 and classes will last into June.

"We have time built in to actually spend time getting to know our students talents," noted 6th grade humanities teacher Janet Wallace. "Their strengths, turning their weaknesses into strengths."

The goal is to prepare the kids for college. Science, technology and engineering and mathematics or STEM will be at the center of the curriculum. That will include coding.

"Right now a lot of schools just aren't teaching creative process, thinking creatively, analytically, just that whole design piece and that's something we really need to be preparing our students for," explained computer science and coding teacher Mehreen Butt.

Charter schools are meant to give parents more options and tailor instruction to the child.

"Focused on eliminating the disparity between children who grow up in low income communities and their wealthy suburban counterparts," added Mangana.

Midtown Public will have just 5th and 6th grades this year. ReImagine will only have 5th. They'll both add a grade each year. There have been other charter applications in the state but these are the only ones to be approved so far.

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