The new school rising from construction dust on Middletown’s high school campus is striking for both architectural and educational reasons.
The new Middletown Middle School, which is part of the massive $96 million transformation of the Middletown High School campus, is on schedule and budget, said school officials.
Wings of the new school are separated into seventh and eighth grades and include shared learning pods outside of classrooms designed to better engage students, said George Long, business manager for the school system.
All the work on the new, 135,000-square-foot middle school will be completed by the first day of classes for the 2018-19 school year.
Simultaneously, renovation and expansion work at the adjacent high school is proceeding, and together the two projects comprise the largest school construction enterprise in the city school system’s history.
“Things are moving along, with no major hurdles,” said Long over the din of interior finishing work now being done by work crews in the middle school.
The district’s current Vail Middle School, which will close after this school year, is the former Middletown High School and opened in 1923. It is the oldest school building in the county.
“The biggest difference here is that we teach differently than we do at the high school,” said Long, referring to the learning pod infrastructure in each wing of the middle school.
“It’s a teaming concept and students will stay in their team area for most of the school day. All of their core classes happen in a six-classroom pod so they are not walking from one end of the building to the other,” he said.
Moreover, the teachers in those pods work together in a team structure that better allows the instructors to modify learning pace and subject matters to individual students who may be lagging academically and working ahead of their classmates.
Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. said the new school design “gives our students access to innovative learning spaces and it allows us to start redefining how we educate students.”
“Our hallways will function as extended learning areas and will allow us to invest in innovative practices such as maker learning. This new start-of-the-art facility will serve as a source of inspiration for our Middie Modernization Movement,” said Styles, referring to the campaign he started shortly after starting work for the district in August.