High Point - More than 2,500 students in the Guilford County Schools system went back to school this morning, including the 110 fifth graders who are the first to use Allen Jay Middle School's new magnet program.
Of the 53 magnet schools in Guilford County's 126 public schools, this program is the first-of-its kind in the district. The new curriculum is being called an "advantage model middle school" and uses a non-traditional approach to learning. It entails using music and movement throughout the day to keep students engaged in a high-energy classroom setting. Inside the school, which temporarily is in the Welborn Academy building until renovations at Allen Jay Middle are complete, the classrooms are painted bright colors and decorated with items like cardboard boats and jungles. Guilford County Schools spokesperson Nora Shoptaw said a donor donated a million dollars to help decorate some of the classrooms.
A teacher explained to News 2 Wednesday that teachers were trained on the new teaching method, which is modeled off a charter school program in Atlanta. The children, too, had to apply for admission into the school and were chosen based on whether the program would be conducive to the students' learning style.
Allen Jay Middle principal Kevin Wheat said the idea behind the curriculum is that fun and learning go hand-in-hand, and using high energy can change the way students think about education. Wheat explained teachers are taught how to use structure in collaboration with the new teaching method, so behavioral issues most likely will not result from the high-energy environment.
The school operates on an extended day, from 8 a.m. to 3:45 a.m. and for now has only fifth graders. Next year, the new location will have both fifth and sixth grades, and eventually, the school will have fifth through eighth grades.
The 12 other schools that began classes Wednesday include Brooks Global Studies, Johnson Street Global Studies, Washington Montessori, the Academy at Central/The Academy at Smith, the Middle College at Bennett, the Middle College at NC A&T, the STEM Early College at NC A&T, the Middle College at GTCC-High Point, the Middle College at GTCC-Greensboro, the Middle College at GTCC-Jamestown and Greensboro College Middle College.
No schools in Forsyth County started on Wednesday.