After the student population at Excel Academy South reached 400 students last year, a plan was developed to downsize the school.

The result was opening another school in a different location with the same programming. Excel Academy Central opened its doors this school year at Grover Washington Middle School at 201 E. Olney Ave.

Just like Excel Academy South, Central is an accelerated school program that provides students who are behind on credits obtain their high school diploma.
“Excel South is still in the same location that it was last year and we were able to develop another school with 200 students,” said Executive Director of Excel Academy Central Jarrad Muller.

“We were able to partner with Grover Washington Middle School and develop Excel Academy Central,” he said. “Our school system is set up for over-age and under-credited students. We partner with all the Philadelphia high schools around the city.

“Having the vision of the school district, the Opportunity Network and SESI helps make us who we are,” he added. “Just going from 400 students to 200 students really allows us to develop the relationship these kids need to be successful.”

Since Excel Central opened its doors, the Grover Washington community has been both welcoming and supportive.

“We have a great relationship with Grover Washington’s Principal T. Joi Blunt,” Muller said. “Our own principal Mr. Jankowski-Carson has meetings and partnerships with them. We have building plan meetings constantly with the team downstairs.

“They also give us our freedom,” he said. “They gave us our own section of the building. They made their home our home. Our partnership continues to grow with Principal Blunt and the Grover Washington administration.”

Excel Central provides a high school education at an accelerated pace with students earning their diploma in two and half years, depending on the number of high school credits students bring with them and accumulate each term.

All students must meet the School District of Philadelphia’s curriculum and state-mandated graduation requirements as high schools in the city.

“We’re set up like a college,” Muller said. “If you are behind in your credits, you have the opportunity to earn more credits per year than you do in the traditional high schools here.

“We have two semesters,” he said. “The first semester runs from the beginning of the school year to late January. Our second semester picks up in the beginning of February and runs till June 14.

“We do follow the school district’s calendar, but instead of having a [four] quarter year, we have two semesters like your traditional college,” he added.

Every student has an individual base plan. Upon entry at Excel Central, students will go through the orientation process. They also sit down with the program’s academic team and principal to develop a plan for which classes students will need to take to graduate.

“We require our students to apply to three schools and fill out the FAFSA,” Muller said. “We want to make sure that they know their learning doesn’t stop here.

“We want them to continue on to secondary education, whether it’s a two-year school, four-year school or military,” he said. “We just recently had a military trade presentation here. We had all branches of the military and Space Force. That went well and our students really enjoyed it.”

Excel Central Principal Carl Jankowski-Carson said helping students take ownership of their academics and investing in themselves is key.

“For us, it’s all about preparing the students for their next step,” Jankowski-Carson said. “That takes preparation and commitment. We sit down with them and map out their goals, their graduation date and what they need to do to get there.

“We also make sure that we support them along their journey,” he said. “Everyone here works extremely hard to make sure that our students not only succeed here, but that they’re also successful once they graduate.”

Muller said he wants students to leave Excel Central knowing that their potential is endless.

“What we want them to take away is that they can make anything happen,” Muller said. “We help our students realize that their potential is endless and when they leave high school they can reach anything they want to accomplish.”