NEW BEDFORD — When Alma del Mar Charter School opened its doors in 2011, it had only 120 students in grades K-2. Families placed their faith in a new school that based its academics on learning approaches different from other New Bedford schools.
Fast forward seven years, and Alma del Mar has a student enrollment of 415. The school has grown by one grade each year and boasts that its students — referred to as “scholars” by the faculty and administration — advance nearly a grade and a half each year in reading and writing, officials said.
On Friday, 37 scholars — 100 percent of the eighth-grade class — graduated and said goodbye to Alma del Mar as they move on to high school. More than half of these graduates started as second-graders and have been with the school since it opened.
“The school has taught me to be a better leader and be open-minded to make the world a better place. A lot of stuff I learned in classes I know will help me in the future. When I’m writing, there are skills I used in my writing that I know I’ll use in the future,” said Marcus Britton, one of the graduates and original students, who will attend Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Alma del Mar’s curricular approach employs an expeditionary learning model. Much of a scholar’s academics are based around investigating local and global issues as they’re learning and applying the fundamentals of science, social studies, and other class subjects.