North Side's Grand Center Middle School
The middle school opened its doors in August 2018 to welcome 75 excited and hopeful fifth and sixth graders. The first year was a whirlwind of new operational systems and curriculum offerings. The whole North Side community came together to make it a success.
Seventh grade began in Fall of 2019 and the first 8th grade class was inducted in Fall 2020. Housed in the beautiful and historic Third Baptist Church building, the middle school features spacious classrooms with abundant natural light. Students enjoy a performance space, a gymnasium, and a short walk to some of St. Louis' most revered arts and culture institutions.
Why Start a Middle School?
“With the exception of just a few students, every child who enrolled in our new middle school is a graduate of our elementary school,” said Principal Stella Erondu. “We heard our parents pleading with us to provide a middle school, and we knew we had to do it.”
By expanding to offer middle school grades, North Side is delivering a quality education to more students who are most in need of it. The vast majority otherwise attended schools where positive academic outcomes are rare. Now, these students have the opportunity to continue succeeding academically in a culture of respect and high expectations where they are encouraged by the attention they receive in small classes. Like North Side's elementary school, the middle school offers an extended day and school year that can be life-changing for many students. Classes are taught by highly-qualified teachers focusing on the same core subjects.
The Grand Center Advantage
The big difference at the middle school is the location in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District. When walking out the front door of the school, students immediately see KDHX community radio station, Jazz at the Bistro, and The Fox Theatre. The district draws guest artists from all over the world, and the church housing our school draws ESL students. “Students regularly hear adults speaking other languages and that exposure can be a very positive force in shaping their world view,” says Principal Erondu.
“While we are not an arts school, North Side provides access to all that our region’s leading arts district has to offer,” says Principal Erondu. During the first year of middle school, students enjoyed experiential learning with premiere cultural institutions such as the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Contemporary Art Museum, and The Fox Theatre where our students were visibly and audibly in awe of the majestic surroundings.
The Future…Beyond Middle School
Principal Erondu and her middle school faculty worked hard to create an exciting second year at the middle school. “We are adding electives for the students and working hard developing collaborations with nearby high schools and colleges where our students might flourish after eighth grade,” says Principal Erondu. “We are also building relationships with reputable leadership and mentoring organizations that we believe will benefit our students as they pursue their academic endeavors now and later in life.”
For the 2020-2021 school year, North Side welcomed new principal Leah Harris. Principal Harris is a first generation college graduate and was drawn to education because of the differences it made in her own life. She started her career teaching in New York City. She worked in New York for 10 years, teaching and leading in middle schools in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. She also helped open a school in Chicago.