“The small setting, close personal touch, and family culture climate that’s personalized and warm,” is what first interested new Executive Director Sean McCarthy about Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School (LMACS). For 25 years, LMACS has offered students who need it most an inclusive and supportive learning environment that guides them toward successful futures.
McCarthy’s goal for the 2021-2022 school year is to build upon what has worked well for the school and make it better. This includes bringing in newer technology – such as smart boards teachers were trained on before the start of the year – and reaching out to students in the surrounding areas of Lowell to increase enrollment and show the public “what we’re all about.”
“I feel so compelled by the mission that LMACS sets out to achieve,” McCarthy said. “We’re here to help students who are struggling with or are not finding themselves fitting into the regular high school experience.”
In partnership with Middlesex Community College, the accredited public charter high school serves students between the ages of 15 and 21 who have left school or are at risk of dropping out. LMACS draws from the surrounding areas of Lowell and across the Merrimack Valley, including Tewksbury, Nashoba, Billerica, Lawrence and Methuen.
“We pose a viable opportunity to help students succeed,” McCarthy said. “They can get their diploma, career and college readiness, and social and emotional competencies.”
Focused on educating and supporting the whole student, LMACS guides students in addressing social and emotional challenges, while helping to develop their identities, interests and abilities as students. In addition to coursework, students are provided with a school-to-work component, daily advising, and an opportunity to participate in Dual Enrollment at Middlesex.
“LMACS provided opportunities for me I didn’t think I had,” said Izabella Jones, an LMACS alumna. “I never thought I’d graduate, let alone be able to take a college class while I was still in high school. The small class sizes are comforting, not intimidating.”
McCarthy believes that an added benefit for students is that at the school, everyone knows their names. This provides students with an opportunity to build a connection with an adult and have that person advocate for them and know when they’re struggling. “So many of us in life want and need that,” he said.
“LMACS is an opportunity for those who haven’t been dealt a fair deck to succeed,” said Melanie Coehlo, an LMACS alumna. “It is a second chance to realize your potential and understand that you are worthy of success. The staff here genuinely care about you and your future.”
The 2021-2022 school year will be held in-person. As a small school with about 100 students and 15 faculty members, the school can follow health and safety guidelines, while also focusing on the individual needs of students, according to McCarthy.
Running on a trimester basis, LMACS offers three enrollment periods throughout the school year. The first enrollment deadline is October 1. Students also have an opportunity to enroll in the school in November and February. The different entry points help students who have gone to bigger public schools and are struggling, which is “a function of who we are and who we serve,” McCarthy said.
An educator for over 20 years, McCarthy started his career in education teaching English in the Lawrence Public School System. Before coming to LMACS, he was the Interim Head of School at a charter school in Salem. When he saw the job posting for the new Executive Director role at LMACS, he said he was “deeply connected and drawn to it.”
“Students thrive here with the small setting, opportunities and experiences,” he said. “If you go to LMACS, you know you’re going to get the support.”