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John Rex Charter Elementary School continues on its march toward opening a middle school next year by bringing in a seasoned enterprise school principal in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Patrick Duffy is starting the Spring semester as assistant head of school for John Rex in downtown Oklahoma City.

He has been the principal for Jackson Enterprise Elementary School for the last two and one-half years.

Duffy will be responsible for developing the new middle school to be housed in the Myriad Gardens Botanical Tube starting next school year, 2018-2019.

Discussion with charter principal
William Stubbs (L) confers with Joe Pierce, John Rex Elem principal (Brett Dickerson/file)

The current John Rex campus sits just a block to the west of the park.

“Patrick is a proven, innovative and collaborative leader,” said Dr. Joe Pierce in a prepared statement. Pierce is the Head of School/Superintendent for John Rex.

“His passion for education and his expertise in Summit Learning have helped students successfully take ownership of their own education, ” Pierce said.

“He has demonstrated success in building a high-capacity staff to meet student needs. He is an outstanding addition to the JRCES team as we expand our launch pad of learning and discovery with a middle school.”

Duffy led the faculty and staff in developing the Summit Learning model at Jackson which is centered on the student moving at their own pace in project-based learning.

Addition of the middle school was announced in November.

Free Press interviewed Duffy on the last day of the school year May 2017 for our series on the three enterprise schools in the district.

He was energetic, positive and completely comfortable with the culturally and economically diverse student body at the south side school.

Jackson is one of the original enterprise schools started 18 years ago as Columbus Enterprise Elementary in Oklahoma City Public Schools. When the school moved into the Jackson building the name changed.

Even though the district’s enterprise schools are more closely tied to the district administration and finances, they have their own boards and are expected to generate many types of community support.

Duffy’s experience at Jackson reaching out to the community for parental, financial and organizational support will be valuable in his new post.

John Rex Head of School/Supt Dr. Joe Pierce
John Rex Head of School/Supt Dr. Joe Pierce (Brett Dickerson/file)

Pierce told Free Press the first day of this school year that they started with just Pre-K and have been adding a grade each year as the first class moves up.

That day he said they were working toward opening a middle school program because the first class was starting in the fifth grade and would need a middle school program next year.

Their design is to eventually have a complete Pre-K-12 program at John Rex, Pierce said.

Pierce is leveraging the unique location of John Rex in the heart of downtown within an easy walk of the Myriad Gardens, the downtown library and many other cultural spots.

“This is a unique learning experience partly because of our location,” Pierce told us in August. “There just isn’t any other school around with this kind of setting.”

A $1 million grant from Inasmuch Foundation will help fund the addition of the middle-school grades according to a news release in November. Inasmuch Foundation is also committing a capital improvement grant up to $700,000 for enhancements to the garden’s educational spaces.

Duffy’s assistant principal at Jackson, Katherine Price, has been appointed interim principal there for the remainder of the year.

UPDATED – 1-4-2017, 10:25 a.m. to add statements from Dr. Joe Pierce.

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