Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charter middle school in Hernando opens new year in its own building

SPRING HILL

Eighth-grader Dustin Sanderson trudged up the sidewalk to Gulf Coast Middle School on Monday morning, still rubbing sleep from his eyes and with all the excitement one might expect from a 13-year-old boy on the first day of school.

"Wake up, boy, it's school time," principal David Schoelles shouted as he stood in the bright morning sun, beads of sweat already forming on his forehead. "It could be worse."

The boy cracked a smile.

Schoelles, the teachers and students all had a big reason to be excited for the start of the 2014-15 school year: The charter school is now operating out of its own building.

Last school year, the charter's first, the students and staff were forced to work part of the year out of portable buildings at Fox Chapel Middle School because construction was not finished on the school's permanent building on Deborah Drive.

"It's so much more fun to be able to start out at our own place," Schoelles said.

Schoelles played the part of cheerleader on Monday, welcoming students as they were dropped off by parents and buses. He greeted most of the kids — and a fair number of parents — by first name, asking them about certain issues or questions.

"Good morning, Hailey," he said to a girl stepping out of a vehicle.

"Take care of my baby," her mother shouted as she pulled away.

Even more than students, parents seemed excited to be sending their children to the charter school, a replication of the high-achieving Gulf Coast Academy in Spring Hill. With three charters at nearly full capacity this year, Hernando has more students in charter schools than ever before. Charters operate with public money but with less oversight than regular public schools.

Melissa Sanderson said she wanted her son to go to the school because of the strong academic pedigree and the wide range of field trips offered.

"I felt like it was going to give him more of a chance to broaden his education," she said. "Things that I could never do for him he's going to get to do here."

Donna Bohn, mother of 12-year-old Nicholas Bohn, said that her son's first year at the charter school went well and that Schoelles and his staff made her feel at ease.

"Every parent shares the same fear when their child goes into middle school; we're all afraid of what they're going to see," she said. "There was nothing to worry about. Mr. Schoelles … is completely involved in every aspect of this school. (He) knew my son's name before the first day of school last year. I'm not alone. He's just that way."

Bohn said the small size of the school, roughly 120 students, appealed to her. She said teachers are able to pinpoint areas of weakness and help students master them.

"If the child is having a problem, the teacher is able to take the time and hear what the issue is," she said.

Lisa Abdul-Rahim has a sixth-grader and an eighth-grader at the school, having decided to send her oldest, Kadeja, 13, last year when she wasn't pleased with the middle school her daughter was attending.

"It's better than I thought it was going to be," Kadeja said. "I thought I was just going to be with snobby people. It wasn't like (that)."

Abdul-Rahim said she liked how much Gulf Coast expects from its students and how they incorporate life lessons into the classroom.

"You don't get that in regular middle school," she said.

Jason Millan, who was dropping off his seventh-grader, Aryana, said he enjoys the small class size, the one-on-one learning and the after-school activities. He said he's seen an improvement in his daughter's grades.

"They're on top of everything," Millan said. "They have a great relationship with all of the parents. It's more like a big family than it is a school."

Contact Danny Valentine at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.

Charter middle school in Hernando opens new year in its own building 08/18/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 18, 2014 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Three students arrested over BB gun at Brandon middle school

    Crime

    BRANDON — McClane Middle School was put on lockdown Tuesday after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received social media reports of a gun on campus, the agency said.

    McLane Middle School in Brandon. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  2. Bill Nelson: Confederate statues belong in museum

    Blogs

    A day after saying decisions on Confederate monuments should be left to "communities," Sen. Bill Nelson changed his stance:

  3. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions

    Nation

    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]
  4. Suspect in robbery of Brandon woman, 86, has been arrested more than 40 times

    Crime

    BRANDON — One spring day in 2012, Marcus Wayne Hunt walked out the of Orient Road jail a free man after posting bail on a charge of fleeing from police and driving without a license

    This surveillance photo shows Marcus Hunt, 28, pointing a gun at an 86-year-old woman as she unloaded groceries from her car parked at her Brandon home on Monday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hunt fled in the Toyota Corolla and was arrested shortly after midnight Tuesday. 
[Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Killings put spotlight on possible neo-Nazi threat

    Nation

    TAMPA — The friendship of the four young roommates — though cemented in the dark trappings of an obscure neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division — never seemed destined for bloodshed.

    This undated photo provided by Kianna Kaizer, shows  Jeremy Himmelman and his girlfriend Kianna Kaizer. Himmelman was fatally shot along with his friend Andrew Oneschuk, 18, by a roommate in the Tampa apartment the men all shared.  [AP photo]