Norwich families to get look at magnet middle school curriculums

Norwich — November is a busy month for school administrators, teachers and families of middle school-aged students getting ready for the launch of the city’s two magnet middle schools starting next school year.

Norwich in September received federal grants totaling $4 million over five years to convert the Kelly Middle School into a STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — themed magnet school, and the current Teachers Memorial Sixth Grade Academy into a global studies magnet school. Both will be intradistrict schools for Norwich students only, and the programs will start at the beginning of the next school year.

Parents and students will be able to review the proposed curriculums during events at the respective schools. Curriculum night will be held at Teachers Memorial global magnet school at 6 p.m. Wednesday, following the grand opening of the newly renovated planetarium. Curriculum night for proposed programs at Kelly will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Enrollment lotteries for next year’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will be held in early 2018, but the exact dates are not yet set, Teachers’ Memorial Principal Alexandria Lazzari and Kelly Principal William Peckrul said.

The two principals told the Board of Education on Tuesday that they have spent much of the past month working on behind-the-scenes planning, including finalizing their budgets for the Oct. 30 deadline — the day schools were closed due to storm damage.

The two principals met for four hours Thursday with officials from LEARN, the regional educational agency that administers the magnet school grants. The schools have started the hiring process for family liaisons and learning coordinator positions. Next, the school officials will meet with professional development specialists for the two themes and later with a scheduling expert to help determine how the desired theme programs will fit in with regular curriculum within the allotted time in the school day.

Students aren’t the only ones who must decide if they want to attend one of the magnet schools. Superintendent Abby Dolliver told the board she held a faculty meeting with all teachers to discuss staffing at the two magnet schools. She asked teachers to consider their “gifts,” interests and their teaching certifications when deciding whether they are interested in a magnet school position.

The grant does not include money to hire many teachers, Dolliver said, other than a few specialty teachers for the magnet themes, such as a language teacher for the global studies program.

“There’s a lot we have to consider in making assignments,” Dolliver said of the magnet school staffing.

c.bessette@theday.com

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