By Julia Jones, Correspondent
Nolan Creek School opened its doors to prospective parents and their children for a presentation and tour of the classrooms at Belton Christian Youth Center on Tuesday evening. This is the second year the local charter school has been in business, and it expects to welcome almost 150 kindergarten through fifth grade students in the fall. According to Principal Ken Wiseman, the school’s small population is what will make it stand out academically.
“The only way that we’re able to do the project-based learning, STEAM, robotics innovation, and personalized learning is because we’re so small,” Wiseman said. “A lot of it is based on not having hundreds of kids. Things get dissipated in those larger numbers. Keeping it small really enables us to do other things.”
The STEAM method of teaching focuses on combining science, technology, engineering, art and math. Adding art to the classic STEM system should give students an added advantage in analytical thought, according to Wiseman.
Nolan Creek School is accredited by the Texas Education Agency and part of the Orenda School District, a charter school association that started in Georgetown. The district emphasizes what they call the circle of courage, which is made up of belonging, independence, mastery and generosity. Carla Silber, the chief operating officer for Orenda Education stated that these key aspects of schooling lead students to a successful future.
“Even with schools like A&M and UT, we have a lot of success with our students going to colleges and being successful when they get there,” Silber said. “We’re actually having our first students who graduated with us graduate from college this year and they’re doing very well.”
Principal Wiseman hopes this success will begin with a strong focus on outside-the-box thinking with subjects like robotics and engineering, and creative activities like dance and art. Recently hired humanities teacher Lindsey Rembacki has worked at multiple charter schools in the past but claimed this school is different. She believes that its innovative subject areas will help students focus more on problem-solving.
“This charter is different because it provides greater opportunity for the students to truly get the hands-on learning through the STEAM curriculum,” Rembacki said.
The school began offering classes for kindergarten and elementary school last year, but only had one teacher and a handful of students enrolled. This year, depending on how many students enroll, the school is expected to employ six teachers.
Although the school only currently offers elementary classes, they plan to open a middle school by 2019 and high school by 2022.
The school will offer a bus service to students in Temple, Belton, Nolanville and Salado. Although the school does not have a traditional cafeteria kitchen, Principal Wiseman stated that he is open to the idea of local food vendors providing lunch for students.