Director Update

Update: August 21, 2020

Update: August 21, 2020

NCA Families,

I will keep this short in an effort to limit the confusion. New Century Academy will start on Monday, August 24th in a face2face model for all students who have chosen to attend school. We will have school every day next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Those students who have chosen distance learning in any model will attend school via google classroom and google meets. Distance learning students should get an email from their period teacher with a google invite to attend each class period. Students should use their school gmail. Distance learners may pick up their lunch or lunches at the school each day between 9 am and 12 noon. We will be in the office Saturday and Sunday to help any family who needs help. Please call if you have questions.

As I stated in an email on Monday, our hybrid model has changed. We originally planned an A/B type schedule with Wednesdays off. That is no longer the plan. Because we can keep our building and classrooms to 50% or less occupancy and maintain social distancing, we can operate our hybrid model in the same way we operate our face2face. This should ease the pressure of having to switch between 3 models. The county case rate number came in at 24.84. We do anticipate that the number will rise by next Thursday. I will communicate again next Friday about the plan for the following week.

Have a blessed weekend. We look forward to learning with you on Monday, August 24th starting at 8:00 am.

Jason Becker, Director

New Century Academy

Update: August 17, 2020

Update: August 17, 2020

NCA Families and Students,

I hope this update finds you all healthy and ready for another school year! In my previous email I stated that the school board voted to follow the guidelines released by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education. I indicated to you that these decisions would be based on the case rates for McLeod County and the building capacity.

Each Thursday the Department of Health releases the most current and accurate case rates by county. As of 08/13/2020 the case rate for McLeod County is 13.96 per 10,000. This would mean that NCA would move to a hybrid model to open the school year. There will be one more release of data by MDH this Thursday, August 20th. All indications from the McLeod County COVID task force indicates that the case rates will be even higher. Once this information is released, I will communicate again on the plan to open on Monday, August 24th. This will be the routine as we move through the school year. Data will be released weekly on Thursday and I will communicate the next weeks learning plan by the end of the day on Friday.

New information has become available regarding our ability to operate under a hybrid model. I detailed the hybrid plan in a previous email. Since that communication, I have been in contact with the Department of Health and the State Fire Marshal. I was informed by MDH that if we are already at 50% building occupancy with all of the students in the face2face model, then we could operate face2face even during the hybrid model. I was directed to the state fire marshal’s office to calculate our building occupancy capacity. Based on the information I received from the state fire marshal, New Century Academy is able to operate in a face2face format on every day of the week, even when a hybrid model is indicated. This means that New Century Academy will operate face2face every school day with all of the students who opt in. Families who chose the distance learning option will continue to receive their education in this format.

Our transportation company, Labrataan Bus Company, will be contacting you to indicate your pick up and drop off times. If you are not contacted by the end of the day this Thursday, please reach out to the school office to receive the needed information. We can be reached at 320-234-3660.

We will conduct an open house as scheduled for New Century Academy families this Thursday evening starting at 6 pm until 8 pm. We ask that you please wear a face covering and practice social distancing while in attendance. This will be an opportunity for students to connect with staff, receive and adjust their class schedule and ask any questions they might have about the school year.

We are excited to start the school year! We are so thankful that you continue to choose New Century Academy as your school of choice!

Jason Becker, Director

New Century Academy

2020-2021 School Year Update

2020-2021 School Year Update

Students and Families of NCA,

Today Governor Walz and Commissioner Ricker announced that the extent to which public schools open would be a district decision but would be based on two key elements:

1) COVID-19 case rates by county
2) The districts ability to follow health guidelines based on enrollment and the size of the school building
I have attached the document I received from MDE which shows the most recent COVID-19 case rates by county. This document also gives you the recommended approaches for different grade levels based on these case rates. I will be discussing this document and others with the school board and a decision will be made soon as to our opening approach. My preliminary assessment leads me to believe and hope that New Century Academy will open in full on August 24. Of course, case rates could change between now and then. It will take an extreme amount of patience, flexibility and understanding as we work through this school year and these recommendations. We have work to do before then to prepare our building as well as procedures to put in place that will keep our staff and students as safe as possible. We will work with students and families from all of the counties we serve and create scenarios for learning for those students that keep everyone as safe as possible.
There are a few things we know we will need to do. Face masks will be required by all staff, students and anyone entering the building. Social distancing will be practiced to the best of our ability in the entire building. Temperature readings will need to be taken before entering the school building and during the school day. I have discussed with the transportation company their ability to complete this task before students even enter the transport vehicles. We will need to create a quarantine room, other than the nurses office, where students/staff can go if they fall ill or develop a temperature. We will need to modify our schedule and potentially our start and end times in order to create a safe routine and environment for all.
The direction we have been given helps clarify that at any point in the school year, we may move between learning models (in-person, hybrid, distance) depending on the case rates and enrollment. I am confident that as a staff we will work tirelessly to provide the most equitable and safe learning environment possible. With your help and the dedication of our staff, we can show our communities that we can make an impact, even in the midst of difficult and uncertain circumstances. As we plan, make decision and get ready for you all to return on August 24, I will do my best to email updates that are concise and relevant. I would ask that you all continue to be patient as we work through the school year. We are all excited to get back to school and look forward to seeing all of your masked faces! Thank you all for taking the time to read this email. Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.

Jason Becker, Director

New Century Academy

Director Update Fall 2019

NCA Family,

Another school year is on the horizon for students who choose New Century Academy in Hutchinson, a 6th – 12th grade Public Charter School. The first day of school will be Monday, August 26th. As we start our 18th year serving the families of Hutchinson and surrounding communities we welcome, for the first time, 6th grade students to our campus located at 950 School Road SW. We are excited to offer a complete 6th – 8th grade middle school experience! New Century Academy continues to be a school of choice, serving students who enjoy a smaller environment and more personal attention. We offer a welcoming environment that seeks to help students become better people, learning from each other and embracing our differences. At New Century Academy we see each student as a unique opportunity and we work hard to make sure that students feel accepted, regardless of their situation in life. At New Century Academy, come as you are!

Continued Discovery with New Project Based Tools

Students will continue to refine their project and problem based skills this school year. A grant awarded last school year through the efforts of our winning Samsung for Tomorrow Team will allow us to provide a chromebook for every student in the classroom. Staff will also receive google training in August as we prepare to transition to a google classroom school. Also, staff will receive training to implement a new project based platform called ProjectPals. This is a real-time collaborative project based learning platform that meets students where they learn today, digitally. The platform allows students to work on projects alone or together, anytime and anywhere with teacher oversight. ProjectPals will allow students and teachers to archive their projects in order to look back upon, share with the community, and to see the impact being made within each project.

Collaboration That Teaches Real Work Skills

It has always been part of our mission and vision to help students learn to communicate and work together to achieve. Two years ago when we moved into our current location, we remodeled the building to allow for as many collaborative spaces as possible. Whether working in one of the two open project spaces, entertaining student center, conjoining humanities center or at the high tables in the cafeteria space the students have plenty of opportunity to learn together. Many of the classrooms are set up in a Socratic format in which students participate in cooperative discussion that stimulates critical thinking. Inside these collaborative environments you’ll often find educators learning along with students. Our approach encourages students to practice skills that will be more valuable to them in the work world of today in which businesses need people who can critically think and work with others to make their business stronger.

Students will also have the opportunity to learn in several real time, live work environments within the school. Students can learn work skills through our food service department, maintenance department, administrative offices and our very own coffee shop. The coffee shop is open all day and available to students, staff and parents of New Century Academy students. Our hope is to continue to find opportunities within the school where students can obtain real time work experience that will transfer to their first job or career during or after high school.

Leadership and Transition with a Purpose

Students will also have opportunities to connect with our community through volunteer or transition programming. Specifically, students in our Special Education programming will be connected with businesses in and around Hutchinson to learn work skills that could transition them to employment. These students will also learn valuable life skills that will help them transition to life on their own. Many of the students with learning challenges in our public school systems today are underserved and unprepared to transition to life on their own. It is our goal to support these students and provide as many valuable connections in and around Hutchinson.

As a Stillman Leadership School through the program, all students will have continued opportunity to serve the public through our volunteer efforts. This year our main focus areas will be Literacy, Poverty, Mental Health and Physical Health. We will continue to work with the City of Hutchinson to give back to our community through service projects. This also includes our continued work each year through the Hutchinson Leadership Institute, a long standing and successful program that has extended first to the youth at New Century Academy for the past several years.

Why We Do This Work

We believe that every child needs at least one caring adult to be successful. It is our job as public education to serve our students and families, not the other way around. This has often been lost in many traditional public schools as they continue to meet the needs of a certain type of student. While this might be an easier approach when attempting to educate a larger number of students in a big school, it may not meet the needs of students who are less traditional and maybe non-conforming. What if you don’t fit into that traditional mold? What if you’re looking for something different? Something that meets your needs as an individual. This is the advantage a small PUBLIC-TUITION FREE Charter School can offer. We have a smaller staff to student ratio on purpose. Our class sizes are designed to be small on purpose. We believe we can help those students who need to reconnect to their education. We also believe we can help those students who need more or who believe in having more control over their education. If you are a student who needs a place you can feel that you belong, are wanted and can find empowerment, then New Century Academy is the school for you! If you are a parent who wants their child to find excitement and curiosity again in their education, then New Century Academy is the school for you!

New Century Academy will host an open house on Thursday, August 22nd for students and families enrolling or interested in enrolling for the 2019-2020 school year. The open house will run from 6 – 8 pm. New and returning students can pick up their schedules, reconnect with classmates and meet the staff. Students and families interested in checking out what New Century Academy has to offer, please feel free to stop in anytime during our summer hours from 9 am to 2 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We look forward to seeing you all soon!

Director Update: September 2018

Director Update: September 2018

Parents & Families of New Century Academy,

New Century Academy has kicked off its seventeenth school year in Hutchinson with great anticipation. Located at 950 School Road SW in Hutchinson, New Century Academy is a PUBLIC-TUITION FREE Charter School serving grades 7-12. In 2002 the school was opened on the Hutchinson Technology campus and completed its first five years of education in the Learning Center building located on Bluff Street. In 2008 the school moved to 5th Avenue into a new building built by local investors. Last June (2017) the School Board was presented with an opportunity to move into a larger space on School Road. This opportunity included a remodel plan for a full gymnasium, upgraded kitchen, an improved science lab and several creative learning spaces. The New Century Academy School Board was in full support of the move and students, families and staff have all worked tirelessly to create a collaborative and creative learning space. We completed a full year of education in our new home, amidst construction and at times confusion, the students and staff did an amazing job adapting to our ever-changing environment. As a PUBLIC-TUITION FREE Charter School, our world is always changing and adapting. The very nature of our efforts is to adjust to the changes that take place amongst our students and families. As an educational institution, we believe that it is our duty to meet the students where they are at, rather than always expecting them to conform to an educational system that hasn’t truly changed in 100 years. This is a culture that we have fostered from our beginning and continue to construct as we move into the future. After all, you can change the outside appearance of the package but if the present inside is the same, it may not excite you!

Students and families who choose New Century Academy have much to look forward to in this new school year. We continue to expand our extra-curricular activity offerings and are excited about these opportunities for our students. Our goal is to learn, compete and most of all, have fun together! Our fall activities include Cross Country, 6-man Football and Volleyball. Our winter activities include Boys and Girls Basketball and Archery. Spring activities include Archery and Trap Shooting. With the construction of a regulation gymnasium this last school year, students can enjoy the indoor space during practices and competitions.

Along with our extra-curricular activities we continue to work to develop unique and creative clubs that students can participate in. Students will again provide a Gaming Club, Photography Club, Yearbook, Student Council, Reading Club and Art Club. Our hope is that more students will show interest in Speech, Knowledge Bowl, Math League and a Rock Climbing Club. We have completed the construction of one of the two rock walls within the gymnasium. Students, families, staff and community can look forward to challenging themselves on the only rock wall available in this community and surrounding communities.

Students can also look forward to the continued development of our Work Study program where students can enroll in an elective course that will teach them hands-on employability skills. Students may select from the Food Service, Office-Clerical, Maintenance and our very own Coffee Shop! Students will work along with a staff member to develop essential skills needed for the work environment. The Coffee Shop is a unique experience in which students develop menu items, the associated costs and marketing techniques to conduct their business. All of the profit goes back to the shop and to student activities. Our goal is to have this Coffee Shop open to the public!

In addition to our Work Study program, we will continue to provide the same required course work that all public schools must offer as well as electives like trigonometry, calculus, STEM, Careers, Fitness and Activity classes, Band & Choir and various levels of Art. At New Century Academy, students have the option to enroll in online elective courses through Edynamic Learning. The program offers over 50 online elective courses. Our Band program, directed by a St. Paul Orchestra Director, will be in its second year of development. The first year of Band saw great improvement and tons of excitement. We look forward to expanding our Band program and attracting new, talented musicians! In addition to a typical Band program we will continue the development of our Music and Video Production program. Students will have the opportunity to explore these artistic areas through blogs, podcasts, mixing and recording music and much more! Students will also have the opportunity to explore college courses through our PSEO program.

As a PUBLIC-TUITION FREE Charter School, we continue to provide our Project Based Learning program. This program allows students to obtain elective and core credit through the development of independent projects. These projects are chosen by the students and can be developed around any passion or interest they have. Once the idea is in place, student embark on a project development process with an advisor and other students. Students learn project management skills, resource development in both community and print, collaboration and teamwork as well as refining their skills in evidence based research and presentation skills. Through the recent remodel construction, we have created two unique Project Based Learning Spaces on either wing of the school building. These spaces allow for students to spread out and get to work whether it be by themselves, in partner groups or small groups.

One of many great things about our staff is that many of them have worked in other professional capacities before coming to education. For example, we have employees on staff who have worked as an EMT, Orchestra Director, Athletic Trainer, Apparel Business Owner, Cable/Satellite Installer, Lawyer, Parks and Recreation, Early Childhood, Nursing Home Worker, Childcare, Military Personnel, Restaurant and Food Service Worker and many more! All of these employees share these experiences with students and use their past skill development to help students discover their potential career interests. Our staff knows that education is more than just teaching and learning, it’s about connecting with students and families and connecting them to the community.

It is our job as public education to serve our students and families, not the other way around. This has often been lost in many traditional public schools as they continue to meet the needs of a certain type of student. While this might be an easier approach when attempting to educate a larger number of students in a big school, it may not meet the needs of students who are less traditional and maybe non-conforming. What if you don’t fit into that traditional mold? What if you’re looking for something different? Something that meets your needs as an individual. This is the advantage a small PUBLIC-TUITION FREE Charter School can offer. We have a better staff to student ratio on purpose. Our class sizes are designed to be small on purpose. We believe we can help those students who need to reconnect to their education. We also believe we can help those students who need more or who believe in having more control over their education. If you are a student who needs a place you can feel that you belong, are wanted and can find empowerment, then New Century Academy is the school for you! If you are a parent who wants their child to find excitement and curiosity again in their education, then New Century Academy is the school for you!

Jason Becker, Director

New Century Academy


Director Update: April 2018

Director Update: April 2018

Dear parents and families of New Century Academy:

Spring and warm weather is finally here! I’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate the success of our school year. I will speak to you about some of our successes and some of our challenges. I will also take time to share our future plans and possibilities.

New Century Academy started this journey 16 years ago with the hopes of providing an educational environment that made students the center of their own learning. The vision for the school included students working together with their peers, teachers, family members and community to solve problems and discover confidence and ownership in their learning. This included the development of a Project Based Curriculum combined with the traditional methods of education.

Throughout New Century Academy’s existence this approach has evolved and changed with the leadership, teaching and learning styles of our students. This student involvement and choice in the learning model has always been a staple of our program. This choice extends to the enrollment of all our students as we are a public school of choice. This means that all students are open enrolling, by choice, from their home districts. We celebrate the choice families make each year to entrust our staff and programming with the education of their children.

I would like to take a few moments to reflect on the successes we’ve had this year and the plans for the future. It has been a busy year to say the least. At the close of last year we were presented with an opportunity from the ownership of our then building on 5th avenue, which we’ve occupied since 2008. That opportunity involved a well-known facility on School Road. Did you read that? ON SCHOOL ROAD! It had long been a frustration of mine that we always, from our inception, seemed to be tucked behind the industrial areas of town. From our first building on the Hutchinson Technology campus to our most recent building just down the road from 3M and the Household Hazardous Waste facility. Although these were good neighbors, it always felt like we were somewhere we didn’t belong. It felt isolated and although the building itself was sufficient, the opportunity to grow and expand was limited. I believe students never quite felt like they owned the space. This obscurity was made clear to me over the course of the last couple of years as Director. As I worked through the community more and more about the opportunity New Century Academy could make available to students, I observed three misconceptions by citizens who have lived in the community for decades. First, that we were a private school and charged tuition. Secondly, that we were a school but people were not sure of where we were located as they had spent very little time driving down 5th avenue. And third, that some citizens had no idea we even existed.

I’m not sure what more motivation we needed than what I’ve just explained. The opportunity to have a Public Charter School of choice located on School Road, right in the middle of the education sector of the community – was a no-brainer. The school board and staff took immediate action to explore our options and decide a course of action. Through the months of April, May and June we worked tirelessly to explore our options. Finally, we made the decision to move and realize the potential. This new location allows us 10,000 more square feet, a full regulation gymnasium, additional science lab space, property and much more.

I would like to thank staff, students and families for their patience this year as we worked through the series of construction phases. We recently finished the interior phase of construction and have only one item remaining pertaining to the exterior of the building. Although this process has had its challenges, the overall scope of the project has been a success and students and staff have enjoyed their new home.

There have been several new opportunities this year at New Century Academy. Our new home has allowed us additional space to expand our activities. We were very proud to host our first ever home basketball competition! We look forward to future basketball games as well as volleyball in the fall. This new gym space allowed us to add a rock climbing wall and stage with a connected shower room. This will allow for increased activity opportunities for students within their physical education classes and future performing arts. With the help of our Activities Director Josh Krych, we have continued our archery program and added a trap shooting team. Students are very excited about these opportunities and we all look forward to watching them compete. Next school year we will be competing in 6 man football and are very excited to offer this activity.

Another highlight is the cafeteria space and kitchen which provides unique sitting areas and, with the help of our amazing food service director, unique opportunities to learn food service job skills and provide a service back to the school. I believe those of us who have eaten the food would all agree that it is amazing! In addition, students are realizing new job skill learning through our coffee shop, office and maintenance work study program. During second semester, students and staff have been working in our new science lab and I’ve heard many compliments on the design and equipment available for learning. I can honestly say that students and staff have embraced our new building and feel a larger sense of ownership in our new home.

The school has also realized new programming and the addition of several new staff members. We hired a new math teacher, Mrs. Stansbury, and a new instructional coach for students, Ms. Mumford. These efforts centered around our declining performance in the area of math. Both of these individuals have been great additions and have worked hard with students to help them improve. It will take some time to reach our goals and I feel very confident that the teaching and learning in this department will make that happen. In the area of reading, Mrs. Haugen continues to be influential in our continuous improvement and her efforts along with the students resulted in an increase in our academic performance. Mrs. Haugen, along with teachers and support staff across the curriculum, will continue to find ways to collaborate and combine our efforts in reading to help students realize their full potential.

Another first for New Century Academy was the addition of a music teacher who specializes in band and orchestra. Mr. Carvell has done an amazing job in cultivating interest and starting our first band! I have been very pleased to see the interest and talent of our students in this area. Again, this will take time to develop this program and I’m confident this will be an area of interest for our students as we move forward.

All of our teachers and support staff work hard each day to create a welcoming environment that supports students mental health, confidence, sense of belonging and progress toward the purpose of secondary education which is a well-rounded person, able to graduate and move into the community as a contributing member.

I would like to share my gratitude for taking the time to read this update and for all that you do to support us during the year. This is the time to celebrate a year that is coming to a close, and expectations of a new year rapidly approaching. Our staff eagerly anticipates the challenges, growth, successes, lessons learned, and triumphs that will occur in the next school year. We look forward to serving families and students for many years to come. Thank you.

Jason Becker, Director

Kathy Prellwitz, School Board Chair