Parents interested in sending their children to Summit Road Elementary School next year should attend a March 1 meeting at Reynoldsburg High School, 6699 E. Livingston Ave.

Parents interested in sending their children to Summit Road Elementary School next year should attend a March 1 meeting at Reynoldsburg High School, 6699 E. Livingston Ave.

Summit Road Elementary will open next fall as a "school of choice," which means enrollment will not be restricted to students who live in a certain geographical area. Students who live anywhere in the Reynoldsburg school district can apply to attend.

Dee Martindale, the district's K-8 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) coordinator, said the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. The enrollment period for the school will begin March 2 and end on March 29.

Martindale said enrollment packets will be available at the March 1 meeting and afterward at the district office on East Main Street.

She said expected enrollment in the school of choice will be about 75 to 80 students per grade from kindergarten through fourth grade. Enrollment availability will be limited, she said. If interest exceeds the number of open spots, a lottery system will be set up.

She said parents can enroll their children in Summit Road Elementary at any grade level but after the school's first year, the number of seats in the upper grades may be limited.

"The primary spots will be given to the kids already enrolled in the program, so if we have 75 kids in first grade and all of them stick with us in second grade, we may not have many available seats," Martindale said.

Summit Road Elementary School, currently under construction, will follow an interest-based STEM curriculum, she said.

"It's not a neighborhood school; it's a total school of choice, so for parents who are interested in possibly a new, more interactive and integrated approach to learning for their child, this would be for them," she said.

Martindale said it may be difficult for parents to determine what their children's strengths are when the students are so young.

"Some things to look at may be if your child likes to collaborate, or work with others, or really likes a challenge and is more interactive and attempts to figure things out on their own," Martindale said. "And obviously, if their child has shown an early interest in science and/or math, then this would be a great spot for them."

Besides being an interest-based curriculum, the STEM approach focuses on being more hands-on, she said. For example, there will be a wetlands at the Summit Road Elementary and students will have the opportunity to work on the wetlands as a part of an environmental study.

A variety of different subjects will fall under the STEM umbrella, including studies in agriculture, earth, space and physical science, Martindale said.

"Obviously, we're not going to stand up there an lecture at the collegiate level, but just make them aware of all the different possibilities that are out there while also teaching them how to read," she said. "But once they learn, all of the reading can relate to the topics of study."

Martindale said once a child is enrolled in the school of choice, the hope is they will stay in the program through all available grade levels at Summit Road Elementary.

Beginning in the 2012 school year, she said the STEM curriculum will also be offered in grades five through eight. She said students do not have to stay enrolled in the STEM pipeline throughout their school career; they can move back to a neighborhood school at any time.

"STEM is really a different approach to teaching and learning to get kids engaged and make learning more real, " Martindale said.

Martindale taught sixth grade science for nine years in the Reynoldsburg school district. She said she is excited about the new Summit Road school of choice.

"It's a great opportunity for our kids and parents in the district to make learning fun and meaningful for them," Martindale said. "I hope kids are going to become excited to come to school. They'll have so much to say to their parents when they come home. I'm hoping the kids will have a love for learning."

More information about the March 1 parent meeting is available online at