Medical Academy Charter School opens in Catty
The Medical Academy Charter School (MACS) opened its doors to Lehigh Valley students Sept. 4.
The school, located at 330 Howertown Road, Catasauqua, shares space with Lehigh Valley Christian High School and occupies nine classrooms in the building. To date, the school has 11 teachers on its staff.
MACS Principal Johanna Hughes said the charter school differs from other schools in the Lehigh Valley in that it offers students a medically centered academic program.
"The difference is that we infuse the health sciences education into the core curriculum," Hughes said.
For instance, MACS students enrolled in a U.S. history course will not only learn American history, but the teacher will include into the curriculum medical advances, types of medical instruments used and diseases encountered during specific points in history, Hughes explained.
Currently, enrolled students come from Allentown, Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Easton, East Penn, Southern Lehigh, Northampton, Northern Lehigh, Parkland and Whitehall school districts.
The school's geographically diverse population, Hughes reports, has not caused any major disciplinary issues so far.
Attending this year is a class of 150 students, comprised of freshman and sophomore students. Next year the school intends to add another 100 students, primarily consisting of freshman students. The final group of 100 students will be added 2014. The first graduating class will be the Class of 2015.
Hughes says the charter school continues to work on an emergency plan with Joseph Carl, Catasauqua's emergency management coordinator, as required by the Catasauqua Area School District.
"I think it is a satisfactory emergency plan," Hughes said of the preliminary plan.
Because the charter school is located in the Catasauqua Area School District, the charter had to be approved by the school board. That approval was given with conditions, one of which was a more thorough emergency plan.
CASD Superintendent Robert Spengler, in a recent email to The Press, said the school district understands the challenges in setting up a new educational program.
The school board is also continuing to evaluate the quality of the charter school's curriculum.
Spengler said MACS has a responsibility of ensuring it delivers an academic program of study as initially presented to the school board and to the public.
"Adherence to the original intent and identified educational programming of the Medical Academy Charter School is essential to maintain the existing charter," Spengler wrote. "The parents and children who were promised a particular educational program deserve a high quality program that meets the original articulated curriculum and associated programs and partnerships."
The school board granted unanimous approval to MACS on Feb. 13.
According to Hughes, building plans in the near future include expanding the fitness room and converting it into two classrooms, and completing a mural hallway that will be devoted to student artwork focused on the medical fields.