In an attempt to strengthen a few schools within its district, Fort Wayne Community Schools will make some changes, including a significant one at Towles Intermediate School.
Towles, currently a Montessori school for grades 1 through 8 and part of the feeder system into South Side High School, will instead feature a New Tech model for grades 7 and 8, with those students feeding into the New Tech program at Wayne High School. Towles will still be a Montessori program for grades 1 through 6.
The changes, which coincide with a magnet school grant that the board and district recently announced, are being made to address negative perceptions that may exist in the community about South Side, FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Thursday.
"We're recognizing that with some people, it's reputation," Stockman said. "There are good programs there, good things going on. Some people don't want to give it a chance."
So with that, the district will attempt to address those needs in an ongoing fashion at five schools: Harrison Hill, Towles, Kekionga Middle, Wayne and South Side. The goal, Stockman said, is to create a sense of community pride and ownership that students will have during their younger years and carry with them all the way through high school, much like parochial and private schools do.
Stockman mentioned Croninger Elementary and Snider High School as an example, acknowledging that with school choice, students can go other places, but there are those who choose to follow their feeder schools.
"With Croninger, you see that. We have really clear patterns in the Snider area," Stockman said. "The students at Croninger know they are going to Snider, and they take pride in that. That's the same thing we're trying to build with Wayne and South Side."
Stockman said that the teaching requirements mean that teachers for the New Tech component at Towles will require a different set of training and skills, but teachers at Towles can obtain that training and apply to be part of that staff in moving forward.
Towles has around 525 students currently, Stockman said.