Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering celebrates 20 years as Tennessee’s first charter school

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 10:53 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The new school year is underway for thousands of students in Memphis and Shelby County.

One local charter school in the Medical District is celebrating 20 years as the first charter school in the Volunteer State!

You may remember a story we brought you back in December about the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE).

The school was heavily damaged in an ice storm.

Students and staff were able to finish the school year in other parts of that building, but now they’re in a different spot not too far away.

Students and staff are beginning the new school year inside the historic Northwest Prep Academy building on Poplar Avenue.

If you get a chance to go inside, you’ll hear hundreds of students filling the cafeteria and halls.

“It was a team effort,” said MASE Executive Director Rodrick Gaston. “The entire MASE family. The community, parents, students. We all made a great effort to make sure the transition was smooth as possible.”

Gaston took Action News 5 on a tour of their new digs, which can serve 800 students in middle school through high school.

“I’ve seen us progress from a population of three and four hundred to now almost 700,” said MASE Middle School Director Danielle Powell.

Powell believes their STEM curriculum and partnerships with STEM companies have carried them for the last 20 years.

“We want our students to have more,” said Powell. “We want to prepare them for either work or college. I think that is what has set us apart and helped us make it to our 20th year.”

Memphis-Shelby County Schools is allowing MASE to lease the Northwest Prep building.

“Twenty years ago when STEM wasn’t popular, MASE was doing STEM,” said Gaston. “The workforce that’s needed now in this community, in the country is STEM-based so we think we’ve been preparing our students up from 20 years ago until now, for the future.”

MASE is also on a mission to recruit more students.

If you want to learn more about MASE, click here.

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