Out with the old, in with the new
iTECH High hits its target goal for upcoming 2014-2015 school year
Ashley Montgomery | 8/14/2014, 9 a.m.
Miami Edison Middle School has slowly but successfully transitioned into iTECH @ Thomas A. Edison Educational Center in a matter of months. As the 2014-2015 school year approaches, the district-wide magnet high school is finalizing its plans to introduce its first year of ninth-graders.
Curiosity within the community has grown exponentially since The Miami Times released the story about the “ending of an era”.
“I didn’t believe my son when he told me that there was no more Edison Middle at first,” Jemille Lowe, mother of incoming freshman, Justin Stubbs, said. “But, I came anyway to check things out and I’m glad that I did. I think that I am now more excited than he is.”
According to Dr. Sean Gallagan, iTech’s principal, there are currently more than 100 freshmen enrolled and eight teachers who are ready to begin school on Monday, August 18.
With its mission to have no child “slip through the cracks”, what may seem like a small number to some, will guarantee that all students will get equal attention — something that Lowe was concerned about.
“At Horace Mann Middle school my son was not receiving the type of attention that he needed because of the classroom setting,” Lowe said. “I have faith that my son will do well here at iTech.”
Dr. Gallagan and staff were noticeably enthused last Saturday at the school’s orientation.
“About 90 percent of the parents showed up to orientation,” he said. “That’s awesome to know that we have that parent participation behind us.”
During the orientation, students learned about their unique dress-code and how surprisingly majority of them are actually excited to sport their “Sunday’s best” instead of jeans and a uniform shirt.
A large number of iTech’s incoming freshmen are Haitian.
Gallagan says that iTech is taking a lot of pages out of a charter school’s book. iTech is not going to be the traditional public school. Students will be able to choose between Mandarin Chinese and
Spanish as a second language because they are the top global business languages.
Gallagan wants to prepare his students for the world.
“The students will have block schedule, that’s four 90-minute classes a day,” Carmen Garcia, an Enterprise Resource Planning academy teacher said. “In my class students will focus on learning how to run a business. They will be basically learning the same programs that we use to run the school. Also, they will learn how to create apps to promote a business.”
According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, women who work in science, technology engineering and math (STEM) fields earn on average 33 percent more than their counterparts in other fields. This prompted Gallagan and his staff to make a conscience effort to reach out to the community and get as many young girls enrolled as possible.
“We are going to get as much girls as we can and push these girls to get involved in STEM as much as possible,” Gallagan said. “This school is going to be very diverse based off the enrollment information.”
A jack of all trades, Gallagan has had to reach his target audience (students within a 15 to 20 mile radius) in many different ways. He does not have an assistant principal but he says that it might be to his advantage because important decisions are made quicker.
Lead Teacher, Yelena Stewart Revere and Gallagan visited radio station, HOT 105 recently to promote community involvement and to generate interest. Word also spread by newsletters, flyers at all of the parks and recreation centers, telephone blasts, social media and more.
“We are generally enthusiastic about it,” Alan Goldfarb, chairman of the Miami Edison Over-The-Hill Gang (Alumni Association) said. “It’s going back to being a high school again. It’s a concept that is new — at least in this area and it very promising for students that want to advance in the technology field.”