Polaris Tech Charter School opens near capacity Monday after three years of planning, construction.

Contact: Sandra Chavez. polaristechcharter@gmail.com or 843-645-0605
Dr. Melissa Crosby, melissacrosby@polaristech.org or 843-645-0605

Almost 300 students joined Polaris Tech Charter School in Ridgeland Monday, stepping up for a new approach to teaching and learning in the Lowcountry.

The teaching staff, administrators and Polaris Tech Planning Committee members greeted students and parents upon arrival Monday morning, then turned to the job at hand. 

The teaching staff, administrators and Polaris Tech Planning Committee members greeted students and parents upon arrival Monday morning, then turned to the job at hand.

"It's a thrilling day for Polaris Tech, for Jasper County and most certainly for the young people of the Lowcountry," said Sandra Chavez, chair of the Polaris Tech Planning Committee that launched the idea of a new state charter school about three years ago.

"We are so thankful to so many people to be able to open the doors, on time, to near capacity enrollment or middle school and high school students," added retired Air Force four-s tar General Lloyd "Fig'' Newton, a founder member of Polaris Tech. "Together, we are going to make a huge difference."

Polaris Tech is a state-approved charter school to serve middle and high school students from Jasper County and the Lowcountry. It is a free school (no tuition), that will focus on preparing young people for successful work and college.

The Polaris Tech academic emphasis will be on six career areas: Aerospace, health science, information technology, logistics, advanced manufacturing, and business management.

"This is going to be a new way of learning for many of these students with more project-based applied learning and independent study, and we are fortunate to have a staff of excellent, experienced teachers ready to roll into the new school year," said Polaris Tech Executive Director Dr. Melissa Crosby. 

As part of Polaris Tech's Lowcountry-unique approach with applied learning projects, students will research questions and then create and build their solutions. For instance, they may study the question "How do the principles of art, engineering design, math, technology, and presentation skills come together in the real world?" After completing their research, they could demonstrate their learning by designing and building a prototype for a bridge.

Polaris Tech also features Project Lead the Way and a nationally-recognized PLTW instructor. The program's mission is to prepare students for the global economy by providing guided instruction in engineering and math with real-life career links. It will be one part of the middle school curriculum at Polaris Tech to prepare them for the school's career pathways in high school.

The Polaris Tech facility features large, open learning labs with attached "huddle rooms" for small team learning. Students will be issued computers for work at school and some of their class work will be independent and online, with teachers serving as "navigators" to assist their learning.

"We were very specific in our intent when we applied to the state for our charter. We wanted to bring the most effective and proven approaches to educating young people for college and careers, and we wanted the model to address specific needs in Jasper County," Chavez said." It's going to be an exciting first year at Polaris Tech, and we look forward to growing."

While some minor work continues, the developer and contractor worked tirelessly the past month to complete the school despite exceptionally heavy and consistent rains in July.

Student applications still are being accepted at www.polaristech.org for the waiting lists. Although currently at capacity, some families may move away from the area during the school year and need to withdraw - so applications are still open.
 
The school is located on Grays Highway across from the Ridgeland Airport.

To keep updated about Polaris Tech Charter School, follow them on Facebook and at www.polaristech.org. For specific questions, email info@polaristech.org or call 843-645-0605.