Magnet schools looking to attract 'curious' students

January 09, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


Students who constantly ask "Why?" or who are obsessed with special areas of interest are the students teachers might have in mind when parents want to know whether to sign up their children for magnet schools, Washington County Public Schools administrators say.

Betsy Donohoe, supervisor of advanced programs, said parents might consider the special programs at Fountaindale, Funkstown and Emma K. Doub elementary schools if they "see that their kids are just really curious, that they want to know more, who are highly motivated ..."

While Emma K. Doub offers a focus on technology, Fountaindale infuses students' learning experiences with the arts. The schools, which offer accelerated and in-depth learning experiences for students in grades 2 through 5, are seeking applicants for the 2006-07 school year.


According to Donohoe, the magnet classes have a limit of 25 students per grade level, with a potential for a total of 200 students in the program. Students are chosen for the program based on talents and potential, she said Thursday.

The program is ideal for motivated, curious students, as well as students with untapped talents, Donohoe said. Classes move more quickly than nonmagnet classes, and students have opportunities to take leadership roles or pursue special interests, Donohoe said.

According to JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, executive director of elementary education, the school system is considering new magnet schools that would emphasize subjects such as languages or math. Parents who are thinking about sending their children to one of the magnet schools probably already have a feeling their children might succeed there, she said.

"I think, at a certain age, children show us that they have certain gifts or talents in a certain area, and you want to be able to give them a chance to explore those," Palkovitz-Brown said Friday.

According to information provided by Donohoe, this school year, 23 of 54 applicants have filled slots in grades 3, 4 and 5. The school system last year received 118 applications expressing interest in joining the program. The program this year includes 47 second-graders who were chosen from 64 applicants.

Of students who were already part of the program, 95 percent returned to magnet classes this year. According to the information provided by Donohoe, 196 students are in the program. While students' participation in the program is reviewed every year, Donohoe said few students leave the program.

There are fewer slots for older students than incoming second-graders, Donohoe said.

The selection process includes interviews of the student-appplicants and the completion of questionnaires by parents. Applications must be completed and returned to the Office of Funded and Special Programs by Jan. 31.

Open houses

The following open houses will be held to help parents decide whether the magnet program is right for their children. The magnet program is for students in grades 2 to 5.

An open house at Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts & Technology will be Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m.

Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, which houses Emma K. Doub's second-grade magnet class, will be open for families Jan. 19 from 5 to 6 p.m.

Fountaindale School for Arts & Academic Excellence will be open Jan. 26 from 5 to 6 p.m.

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