By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Local students soon will have an option when it comes to choosing a high school.
The Next Charter School is on track to open for the next year. It will offer a different learning environment for high school students in Derry and surrounding towns.
Proponents of the plan to open the town’s first charter school say everything is on schedule. The school will be located in the former Derry Early Education Program space at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.
Applications are being accepted through the end of this week.
Charter schools are public institutions operating under a board of trustees. The schools offer a nontraditional education for students who may need an alternative for their high school years.
Justin Krieger and Joe Crawford, both middle school assistant principals in the Derry district, first presented the charter school plan to the public last year. Residents then cast ballots in a nonbinding vote and supported the charter school plan.
More public information sessions followed, the plan went before the state Board of Education and was approved last June. The school will receive state and federal funding.
Krieger and Crawford will serve as co-directors of the school.
Derry’s school may open with about 30 students.
Curriculum would include more individualized learning and real-life applications for what lies ahead after high school. A lot of students go through the motions in a traditional high school setting.
It’s an alternative way to learn.
“It’s not always one size fits all for students,” Crawford said.
He and Krieger agreed the Next program will offer something for all students needing a different method of learning.
“For some kids, it’s a real disconnect as to what they’re doing in school and what they are interested in,” Krieger said. “Flexibility is key. The school will be flexible around what they need and want.”
Crawford said as applications come in there is a common thread among those interested in attending Next. That thread is a need for an alternative classroom environment and teaching method.
There will be four professional teachers on staff at Next. Krieger and Crawford also will teach. Students will be assigned advisors as part of their learning plan.
“The kids will have an opportunity to create what that learning will look like,” Krieger said. “There needs to be options, there needs to be choices.”
To learn more about the Next Charter School in Derry or for enrollment information call, 437-NEXT or visit nextcharterschool.org.