T.C. Williams’ satellite campus could be the future of education.
Traditionally a popular target for teenagers skipping school, the shopping mall is now a place for students to study calculus and brush up on their citing of Shakespeare.
In September, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) opened its first T.C. Satellite Campus at Landmark Mall for 100 students. Because T.C. Williams is so titanic—it’s the largest grades 9–12 school in Virginia—ACPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Madye Henson says the campus helps create a smaller learning environment.
“There are many different students with many different needs,” Henson says. “This campus gives them the opportunity to address those needs.”
Students can come in, leave and take breaks whenever they want, but are required to meet a weekly 20-hour minimum through their online coursework. And, they are offered typical opportunities as students at the main campus, such as internships and one-on-one student-centered support. Graduation requirements for students at the satellite campus are the same for students who attend the main campus in Alexandria.
The classroom is open from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. from Monday through Friday and until noon on Saturdays, so students can design their school hours around other obligations they might have, such as working a job or raising a child.
“We clearly see satellite campuses as a part of what we do, expanding as we move forward,” Henson says.
And expand it has. Soon after the ribbon-cutting of the Landmark Mall campus, another T.C. Satellite Campus opened at Quaker Lane with space for 12–15 students.
Only time and test scores will tell whether this new model is a step toward the future.