Construction rolls on for new magnet high school | March 6, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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Schools - March 6, 2019

Construction rolls on for new magnet high school

TIDE Academy in Menlo Park will focus on preparing kids for STEAM careers

by Angela Swartz

Construction is well underway for a new Menlo Park magnet high school scheduled to open at the beginning of next school year. A part of the Sequoia Union High School District, TIDE Academy, is located on a 2-acre site in a light-industrial area east of U.S. 101.

The school's name is an acronym for technology, innovation, design and engineering — a nod to its mission of preparing students for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) careers. The name also derives from the school's proximity to the San Francisco Bay.

"It's just a super exciting time in education that we get to think outside of the box," said TIDE Principal Shamar Edwards, the former principal of Capuchino High School in San Bruno. She took over last July for Michael Kuliga, who now serves as TIDE's vice principal. Edwards also serves as the school district's executive director of small-school innovation and alternative programs.

One of the school's "outside of the box" ideas is to dually enroll sophomores, juniors and seniors at TIDE and community colleges — Skyline in San Bruno and Foothill in Los Altos Hills — so that students can build up college credits (up to two years' worth) while still in high school, she said. This helps students build self-confidence and saves them time and money on courses once they're fully enrolled in college. English, U.S. history, biology and chemistry are among the courses TIDE students can take for college credits.

TIDE's curriculum will include such classes as engineering and design principles, computer science, and product design, and there will be a focus on project-based learning, according to the school's website.

The magnet school, which is open to students who live in the district, will start with a 100-student freshman class, and eventually grow to 400 students once grades nine through 12 are in place. The student enrollment process ended Feb. 1, and the school received more than 100 applications, Edwards said.

"We get to, as a school that is small, personalize the student's experience," Edwards said. "It's exciting to have the opportunity to have students and families help this (school) come to life. Students and families will have a lot of voice in how the school continues to be shaped."

It's challenging to open a new and unique school, Edwards said. There's management of construction, facilities, staff recruitment, marketing and other tasks to see to, she said.

"The challenge is just in doing all of those things well and at the same time," she said. "It's still a blessing, at the end of the day, that we are in the position of deciding and having a lot of say in what exists (at the school)."

TIDE officials have hired math, science, history and computer science teachers, and are searching for a second math teacher, as well as teachers of English, art, and physical education, Edwards said. The job postings can be found at edjoin.org.

Construction workers broke ground on the TIDE Academy campus in May 2017. Officials expect construction of the new school to finish at the end of May, Edwards said. Classes are set to begin Aug. 14.

The Sequoia district includes the area of San Mateo County from Belmont south, and east of the Woodside hills. Traditional high schools in the district are Menlo-Atherton, Woodside, Sequoia and Carlmont.

For more information on TIDE, go to tideacademy.org.

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