Back to school: Academy of Dover opens for first day of classes

Teresa Tridente, Academy of Dover Charter School reading interventionist) welcomes new students on the first day of school. Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller

DOVER — She already knew her way around school.

Alayjah Wanzer had some uncertainty on the first day back, though.

“It’s really fun to see your new schedule for the first time and meet the new students,” the Academy of Dover fifth-grader said Thursday morning.

“The best part is when you get the teachers you hoped for and see what friends are in your class,”

Less than two hours into the new school year, newcomer Ian Gladden sounded good with everything.

“My favorite place so far is the computer room because of the 3-D printer,” the fifth-grader said. “All the classrooms are nice, especially the art room because I really like art. The kids all seem nice and fun, though I’ve only met the girls so far.”

Katherine Buckley dropped her son off at kindergarten for the first time as a new stage of life began.

New students of the Academy of Dover Charter School having breakfast in the school cafeteria on their first day of school.

“I didn’t want to leave him and he was crying,” she said. “I looked around and saw other kids were excited so I felt a little better since he’ll eventually feel the same way.”

Will Mizgala had no such trepidations — he’s had kids at the school for five years now and anticipated another great experience ahead.

“The classes here are small and it’s easy to see that the teachers can handle each student’s needs very well,” he said.

Third-grade teacher Joanna Zachos — fine with being called “Mrs. Z” — described the first day as teeming with a “joyful energy” throughout the building at 104 S. Saulsbury Road.

“There’s an aim to help them become motivated to learn, build self-confidence and respect for others, and help them recognize the fact that they’re part of a little community here,” Ms. Zachos said.

“We have very high expectations for them academically and as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing these children can’t achieve.”
Instructor Ada Todd watched as her fourth-grade students completed an “About Me” survey.

“Besides being their teacher I want to help them begin to take ownership in the classroom, start building relationships that will empower them to be part of (a shared experience),” she said. “It’s their classroom too.”

New Head of School Dr. Michele Marinucci — who was Christina School District’s senior director of pupil personnel services last year following an 11-year stint with Woodbridge — anticipated the months ahead.

Students on the first day of school line up to go to their classrooms.

“We’re striving to create a village, which everyone is on board with to an extent that I’ve never experienced anywhere,” Ms. Marinucci said.

“Everyone from the custodian, cafeteria staff, front office, teachers, everyone is focused on doing right for the kids.

“We’re all coming in early and staying late knowing that the payoff is for the kids, which makes the time well spent and worth it.”

Delaware Department of Education Secretary Dr. Susan Bunting received a tour through the school that opened in 2003, joined by AOD founder Ruby L. Coppadge.

“We keep using the word ‘excited’ because that’s how we want our students to be when they arrive here each day,” Ms. Coppadge said.
“Parents bring their children here because they’re seeking a safe, secure environment for them to receive an education, and the people here are driven to provide that for them.”

The free charter school is still taking kindergarten through fifth-grade students as enrollment nears the maximum 300. More information is available online at or by calling 674-0684.

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