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MITCH Charter School eyes middle school expansion

Exec. director: Opportunity to expand into second building has arisen.


Since 2010, MITCH Charter School has operated out of a converted warehouse next to a Northwest Regional Education Service District office, on the eastern edge of Tualatin's industrial area.

“We like our location,” Melissa Meyer, the school's executive director, told The Times in an email, “but it is on the small side for offering a rich middle school program.”

MITCH, which stands for “Multi-sensory Instruction Teaching Children Hands-on,” serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade. It is affiliated with the Tigard-Tualatin School District, but it operates under its own charter and generally sets its own curriculum.

Meyer said the charter school has an opportunity to expand into a second building nearby.

“One of the nearby facilities is now available and we are exploring how to move forward thoughtfully and creatively to support middle school students and grow the school,” Meyer wrote. “The additional facility would allow us to offer a well-designed, hands-on program to 180 to 225 middle school students.”

Unlike most middle schools, MITCH has just one self-contained classroom for sixth grade and two teachers on a block schedule for the seventh and eighth grades, Meyer noted.

“This works well now given our student numbers and the facility constraints,” she added. “In a traditional middle school, students will have the opportunity to move among many classes, learn a foreign language, and develop extra-curricular interests, etc.”

Any expansion of MITCH's enrollment or facilities would require district approval, according to Meyer. It would also be dependent on parent interest.

MITCH teaches some 250 students, according to its website. Right now, the school's limited space constrains the number of students it could serve if its enrollment increased.

Informational meeting on 'STEA²M'

There has been a movement afoot to broaden the definition of “STEM,” an acronym for the four related fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, by including the arts. Many have taken to calling the expanded definition by the acronym “STEAM.”

But at MITCH, even that definition is too limiting.

Next Wednesday, March 30, the school will hold an open house meeting to share information with parents about “STEA²M” education for its middle-schoolers.

As MITCH defines it, STEA²M encompasses science, technology, engineering, arts, agriculture and math. The charter school recently received several mobile seed germination stations from Neighbors Nourishing Communities, a Tualatin-based nonprofit group that provides gardening training and supplies in exchange for a share of the produce they grow, which is then donated to charity.

School administrator Melissa Meyer said MITCH wants to increase its enrollment of middle school students “to serve more students who will benefit from our hands-on approach to STEA²M.”

The meeting will also provide parents with information about the Core Knowledge Sequence, which Meyer described as "the curriculum upon which our charter is based."

The open house meeting will be held at Well & Good Coffee House, located at 7357 S.W. Beveland St., Tigard.


By Mark Miller
Reporter
503-906-7901
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