Excel Academy announces leadership for new Orient Heights school

Date Published: 
February 17, 2012
Jeremy Fox
News Type: 

The Excel Academy Charter School has announced the leadership for a new middle school to open in Orient Heights in time for fall 2012.

The charter school network already operates two middle schools, one on Saratoga Street in East Boston, near the bridge to Winthrop, and another on 2nd Street in Chelsea. This summer, the existing East Boston School will relocate to the former St. Mary’s Star of the Sea School building at 58 Moore St. That school, containing current teachers and students from Saratoga Street, will be called Excel Academy — East Boston.

Excel, a network of tuition-free public charter schools founded in 2003, bought the former St. Mary’s school building and an adjacent convent from the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston last year. The archdiocese abruptly closed the school in 2008, despite opposition to the closure from local families. Two years earlier it had sold the adjacent church, rectory, and hall to South Boston photographer Michael Indresano for just $850,000, who provoked controversy when he re-sold the property 20 days later for $2.7 million.

The new middle school will take over the existing Saratoga Street building and be known as Excel Academy — Orient Heights. Nina Keough, founding dean of operations from the Chelsea school, has been named school leader for the new school to open in Orient Heights. Meghan Welch, dean of students at the existing East Boston school, will be assistant principal.

“I am thrilled that Nina and Meghan will be leading our third school in East Boston,” Dai Ellis, CEO of Excel, said in a statement released by the school. “They are both highly experienced educators who have a deep knowledge of the Excel model. Together they will be a tremendous leadership team and will make sure that our third school offers an education of the highest quality in the Excel tradition.”

Keough holds a master’s degree in teaching from Clark University and previously worked at the Edward Brooke Charter School in Roslindale and University Park Campus School in Worcester. She has overseen the launch of the new school.

Welch earned a master’s in public policy at Tufts University and previously worked as a founding teacher at a Washington, D.C., charter high school and a representative for controversial former Washington Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Like the other Excel schools, the new school being set up in Orient Heights will serve students from grades five through eight. It will open with a class of 56 fifth-grade students and add a new class of fifth-graders each year. With the addition of the new school, Excel will serve nearly 700 students in East Boston and Chelsea.

Excel has begun accepting applications for incoming fifth-grade students for all three locations and will conduct its first lottery on March 14. Applications are online at http://www.excelacademy.org. For more information about the school and its application process, contact Gabriela Baker at.