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 [email protected] 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. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.