I’ve heard the rumblings of Magellan Charter School’s greatness well before my oldest was ever a student in the wake county public school system, and the school’s stellar reputation increases in my various parent circles as she inches towards third grade (Magellan serves grades 3-8). Yet rarely can anyone tell me very much about the school. It begged me to ask, what’s all the fuss?
I conducted a bit of due diligence–studied their website, confirmed their A+ report card rating for the state, read some recent articles– but I knew the school tour was where I would get a real feel for the school. I grabbed my favorite real estate agent (Jenne prides herself on knowing the local schools) and joined a roomful of attentive parents. OTL note: all tour dates are full as of publication of this article
We were welcomed by Mary Griffin, Administrator for the school, who led us through a powerpoint presentation highlighting the school’s academic rigor, master staff, and core principles like responsibility and respect. All things I read about on the website. But what I loved about Ms. Griffin is she didn’t sugarcoat the rigor, or downplay the expectation of parent support, or apologize for their lack of specials and foreign language. She delivered a message that encouraged you to apply and discouraged you to apply simultaneously. Meaning, the A+ report card should not be your only measure when applying to Magellan. You need to determine if Magellan is truly a good fit for your student, as well as your family.
Following the presentation, we were led around the school by parent volunteers (parent involvement is significant) and were invited into several classrooms along the way. It was as expected in terms of a clean facility, technology-outfitted classrooms, and a pleasant staff. However, the biggest takeaway from the walking tour was the level of student/teacher engagement occurring in every single classroom I passed. Every. Single. One. I expected this to be the case for grades 3-5, but the middle school hall was even more so. Impressive.
So yes, I left the tour impressed, but did that mean Magellan is right for my child? Here’s my list of noteworthy pros and cons with the understanding that my pros may be your cons and vice-versa.
Serves Grades 3-8, familiar environment through the dreaded middle school years
Approx class size of 16
Expert teachers with freedom in the classroom
An emphasis on self-responsibility. LOVE this.
A laser focus on academics and self-motivation, a foundation that will carry well into high school and college
Lots of field trips and experiences outside the classroom
A de-emphasis on arts and other electives, however they do incorporate the arts into their core subjects.
A sheltered environment. Will my introverted child transition well back into a large, public high school?
Homework is plentiful and time-consuming. I’m sure we all agree homework is important, but so is a balanced life outside of school and this could be a detractor for my child (currently, that is).
Sadly, it may not matter. Admission to Magellan is based on a lottery process, and with approximately 68 students per grade level and last priority given to the general public (behind staff, siblings, legacy, etc.), odds for admittance into the 3rd grade level are slim. Even slimmer for all other grades. You can view Magellan’s full lottery process here. Open enrollment dates will be January 30, 2017 – February 28, 2017 for the upcoming school year.
Bottom Line: If Magellan is indeed a good fit for your child and your number gets drawn, you will have won the charter school jackpot.