On Second Street, in the unlikeliest of settings, the Chelsea Excel Charter Academy has opened for business – that is – the business of education for 56 fifth grade Chelsea kids lucky enough to have been chosen to attend the school which, frankly, is a grand experiment.
There were more than 100 applicants for the 56 spaces. It was, said its CEO Dais Ellis, a pure lottery.
“Seventy-five per cent of our students are from lower income families. Ninety-six percent are children of color. Seventy-eight percent are Hispanic. Twenty percent are special education students,” said Ellis.
Ellis, a Harvard College and Yale Law School graduate who spent time in Africa working for charitable non-profits said that he has the ambition of collaborating with the city to make the school a success.
The state funded the school with $3 million. The school itself needs to raise an additional $5 million to get where it wants to go, that is, to 224 students and four grades
“We have a nice home here right now,” he commented recently. “Getting the school off the ground is our major interest.”
The great challenge that charter schools pose for the public schools is alive and well at the Excel School, where Dais Ellis, its CEO, rules over a rather entrepreneurial budding educational grammar school with 10 staff members, two learning specialists, instruction in science, social studies and mathematics and a staff excited to have the chance to excel, if you don’t mind the pun.
Ellis is aided in the administration of the school by Jen Boyle, a University of New Hampshire/Harvard School of Public Administration graduate. She is in charge of strategic development and Rebecca Korb, a Colby College graduate who handles development and public relations.
With this team in place, the school’s future is looking upbeat and very bright.