MicroSociety Academy Charter School expanding ‘real life’ program

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart The MicroSociety Academy Charter School at 591 W. Hollis St. in Nashua may be empty for winter vacation, but when it is in session, administrators are happy to see students thriving in the school’s “real world application.”

NASHUA – For many American students, the educational trajectory is pretty standard: You go through the kindergarten through 12th-grade education system, maybe go to college, enter the workforce.

For students at the MicroSociety Academy Charter School in Nashua, classes, a job, taxes and real-world consequences are all rolled into every school day.

The majority of the day is pretty traditional, said Amy Bottomley, school director, but during the last period of the day, students go to their “job,” for which they have meeting, paychecks, a government and a day off.

The students, grades k-7, have their own mini society and focus on the “four C’s,” of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking skills.

And according to Bottomley, this “real world application” works.

Results of the school’s 2016-2017 Smarter Balanced Assessment

Consortium showed that MACS student in grades three through six scored about the state average proficiency in Reading/English Language Art and Math as well as above the Nashua Public Schools performance in the same grades, according to a press release.

On average, MACS students scores were 20-40 percentage points higher than the state average and 30-40 points higher than Nashua Public Schools, with MACS students scoring particularly high in Reading/ELA.

“As a new school with kids coming from various backgrounds … it’s a testament to the program’s strength,” Bottomley said. “It’s not just the high fliers coming here, we have everyone from special education and up.”

MACS, which opened in 2014, is one of over 200 MicroSociety schools in the country, but the first in New Hampshire.

Despite the positive feedback from the SBAC, Bottomley said they tend not to put too much focus on test scores.

“We just want to know our kids are learning.”

The average student at MACS is one who will thrive in the MicroSociety concept, and one who is willing to take risks, she said.

Students in each classroom will at time experience failure.

“We’re not about everyone wins,” she said, adding that this is an important part of creating well-adjusted future adults.

Many of the students, she said, come from neighboring Fairgrounds and Ledge Street Elementary Schools, or are students who felt like they did not fit in at school and preferred a smaller setting.

MACS is currently accepting applications for vacant seats in the upcoming school year.

In order to be eligible, according to the release, parents will complete the application and attend one of the school’s mandatory open houses either on Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. or Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room.

Spots will be selected by a blind lottery on March 9.

There are also two vacant seats available for immediate fill in grade seven and one for grade two.

Those interested should contact Susannah Williams at swilliams@macsnh.org.

At the start of the new academic year, the school will also expand to eighth graders, which will bring the student population to 223 and achieve one of the final phase-ins of the New Hampshire Board of Education.

According to Bottomley, there are no other current plans for expansion, but at some point they home to have two classes for each grade level.

For more information about the school or how to apply visit www.macsnh.org

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.