Midland was an economic and cultural powerhouse through most of the 20th century thanks to its vibrant steel industry, but like many similar communities, Midland suffered a devastating decline beginning in the late 1970s and culminating with the closure of the Crucible Steel Mill in 1982.
Midland’s influence as a hub of industrial and cultural progress seemed to diminish overnight and the community faced an economic and educational crisis. The community’s population dropped quickly as people moved out of the area in search of new jobs. Midland’s tax base fell dramatically, which, combined with declining enrollment, forced city officials to shut down Midland’s public high school in 1986.
In the ensuing years, there was a great sense of anxiety among high school students and their families because there was not a single community in the surrounding area that would agree to educate the kids from Midland on a long-term basis.
Education and community leaders in Midland turned to innovation and technology to address this problem.
In 1997, a new charter school law in Pennsylvania created a new opportunity for the community of Midland. The next year, Midland received a $25,000 state grant to put together a plan to address the educational crisis in their community. Under the leadership of Dr. Nick Trombetta, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School was created and started accepting students in the fall of 2000. Utilizing a truly cutting-edge approach, PA Cyber forged an innovative union of modern technology and proven academic methodologies to deliver high-quality educational choices to students and families.
Originally designed to provide educational services to approximately 50 students from Midland, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School had over 500 students enroll in the first year and it has seen rapid growth ever since. In 2011, PA Cyber had over 11,000 K-12 students. It is the premier online public school that combines the best technology, personal instruction and rigorous curriculum with highly qualified teachers.
In 2005, the National Network of Digital Schools was formed to offer comprehensive technology solutions and deliver high quality curricula to students, teachers and administrators in Pennsylvania and across the nation. NNDS is the exclusive provider of the premier Lincoln Interactive online curriculum that is now used by more than 200 public, private, parochial, charter and online schools across the country.
Midland is also home to the world class Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, which serves as home to the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School that offers training in music, theater, dance, creative writing and media arts to more than 300 high school students.
After years of decline, Midland has experienced an educational, cultural and economic revival over the course of the last ten years thanks to a group of innovative and dedicated leaders who used emerging technology to restore this community and its people.
Click here to watch a short video describing the history of NNDS.