Weekly Charter News Roundup Feb. 11 – Feb. 26

Students at Peachtree Charter Middle School in Dunwoody have turned a school garden into a community outreach project that helps those in need.

  • Foothills Education Charter High School (FECHS) completed its first semester of operation at its newest location, the Baldwin College and Career Academy.

  • Furlow Charter School in Americus has a long waiting list of students who wish to enroll in the school. 
  • UGA and other schools look to sign Hapeville Charter cornerback William Poole.
  • The Sandy Springs Education Force will host its sixth annual STEAM showcase at North Springs Charter School
  • State and local officials approve Macon Charter Academy’s plan to enter into a contract with Prestige Charter School Solutions.
  • Latin Academy board members are considering whether to close the school following alleged financial mismanagement of the school’s founder.     
  • The board for Latin Academy has approved a 30-day delay on the vote to potentially close the school.
  • Latin Academy parents have started a fundraising effort to try and prevent the charter school from closing.
  • WMAZ in Macon looks at what separates successful charter schools from those that fail.
  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution examines whether a turnaround plan for several struggling schools in the Atlanta Public School District will work. 
  • The Associated Press  reports charter school backers are asking for charter schools to be exempt from placement in the Opportunity School District, a statewide takeover district proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal. Charter supporters say charter schools already face closure if they don’t live up to their contracts with local or state authorizers. Angela Palm with the Georgia School Boards Association says they are public schools and should not be exempt if voters approve the Opportunity School District.
  • Brookhaven Innovation Academy is accepting online applications for its upcoming lottery.
  • Congressman Hank Johnson gives his thoughts on charter schools and the Opportunity School District.

Introducing 6 New Locally Approved Charter Schools

By GCSA

As the calendar runs down to the opening days of school, many are asking where Georgia’s newest startup charter schools will be opening? 

Here’s the list of locally authorized public charter schools (schools approved by their local school district) that are starting up in Georgia for the new school year. These mission-driven public schools address local community needs and demonstrate remarkable geographic diversity. Their varied curricula and educational approaches reflect the innovation that charter schools are meant to deliver. 

Furlow Charter School, Americus, GA (Sumter County Public Schools)

  • Serving grades K-12
  • 300 Cherokee Street, Americus, GA

The mission of Furlow Charter School is to offer a different approach to public education by encouraging critical thinking and multi-disciplinary learning through an active and engaging education. Furlow Charter School is committed to fostering cultural awareness, social responsibility, and academic excellence through family and community involvement in the development of life-long learners.

Innovations at Furlow Charter School

  • Spanish Language Education K-12:  In our global economy, productive citizens must be culturally informed and functional language skills will make Furlow Charter School students more competitive both in higher education and the workplace.
  • Fine Arts Curriculum K-12:  Research shows that the fine arts promote critical thinking and creative problem solving. 
  • Project-based Learning:  This hands-on approach to education will develop skills of collaboration, deep thinking, and communication.
  • Service Learning:  Service Learning allows students to apply their knowledge in practical settings and to reflect on that experience as it informs their developing expertise
  • Volunteerism and giving back to the community are central to creating real partnerships in a community.
  • Extended Day:  More time on task results in higher academic achievement. 
  • Looping:  In grades K-5, students will “loop” with the same teacher, creating an environment where teachers are keenly aware of students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Small Classes, K-12 small school environment
  • Parental Commitment to Volunteerism.

Kindezi Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta, GA (Atlanta Public Schools)

  • Serving grades K-5
  • 386 Pine Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

Kindezi Old Fourth Ward is an expansion of the highly successful Kindezi West Lake School. Kindezi is a Bantu word meaning “holistically schooling other people’s children with love and an eye to the future of our village.” The Kindezi schools create a unique family environment for learning with small classes of just 6-8 students.  

The mission of Kindezi Old Fourth Ward is to prepare learners of diverse backgrounds for civic life as a means of developing servant-leaders of the 21st century. Kindezi O4W is committed to fostering resiliency, cultivating the natural gifts of learners, promoting academic achievement and instilling self-efficacy and self-determination within a nurturing environment. It will offer a S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) curriculum — an approach for exposing students to problem-solving. As per steamedu.com, “STEAM is a way to teach how all things relate to each other, in school and in life. 

Macon Charter Academy, Macon, GA (Bibb County Public Schools)

  • Serving grades K-8
  • 151 Madison St, Macon, Georgia 31201

Macon Charter Academy (MCA) intends to become an International Baccalaureate® (IB) World School. IB  programs challenge students to excel in their studies, and encourage both personal and academic achievement.  IB aims to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. 

The first step towards becoming a World School is applying for candidacy status. By applying for candidacy status, MCA will seek approval to offer two International Baccalaureate (IB) programs consisting of the Primary Years Program for grades K-5 and the Middle Years Program for grades 6-8.  MCA supports the IB’s mission “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”

Latin College Prep, Atlanta, GA (Fulton County Schools)

  • Serving grades 6-8 (opening in 2015-2016 with 6th grade)
  • 2626 Hogan Road, East Point, GA 30344

Latin College Preparatory Academy Charter School is the second middle school implementing the Latin Way as part of the Latin Schools Network of “No Excuses” schools. It will open in Fulton County Schools in August of 2015.  As a Latin School, its mission is to prepare each of its students to enter and succeed in college, develop strong character, and live with purpose.

The Latin Way is the core school design that every Latin School is built upon. Though Latin Schools may vary in some of the details of their programming, such as grade levels, extra curricular options, and some cultural elements, every Latin School adheres tightly to the five elements of The Latin Way.

  1. College Purpose
  2. Character Formation
  3. Classic Rigor & Structure
  4. Assertive Leadership
  5. Principled Culture

Latin Grammar School, Atlanta, GA (Fulton County Schools)

  • Serving grades K-5, (opening in 2015-2016 with K and 1st grade)
  • 2626 Hogan Road, East Point, GA 30344

Latin Grammar School is the first primary school in the Latin Schools Network implementing The Latin Way school design.  As a Latin School, the Grammar School’s mission is to prepare each of its students to enter and succeed in college, develop strong character, and live with purpose. In the Latin Schools Network, the path to college truly does begin in Kindergarten.  

Alka Franceschi is the founding Principal of Latin Grammar School, bringing The Latin Way to the primary grade level after serving as the founding Dean of Academics at Latin Academy Charter School in APS.  

THINc College & Career Academy, LaGrange, GA (Troup County Schools)

THINc College & Career Academy is a unique charter high school that shapes students to be “work savvy” when entering the workforce or college. These students are highly desirable to businesses and colleges not only because they’re equipped with technical and career-specific skills, but because they understand the soft skills of business – a firm handshake, a strong work ethic and critical thinking skills.

Located on the LaGrange Campus of West Georgia Technical College, THINc is a partnership between West Georgia Technical College and two private postsecondary institutions (LaGrange College and Point University), Troup County Schools, and the businesses, parents and students in Troup County, Georgia.The program offers multiple learning pathways, and this FAQ helps explain the program.

The THINc academic model is flexible, technology-rich and responsive to students and teachers needs. Authentic workplace curriculum extends learning beyond the traditional classroom. Personalized instruction is incorporated through internships with dual / college credit opportunities available. THINc College & Career Academy graduates are college and career ready, experienced and work-savvy.

Although THINc is geared for high school juniors and seniors, it is not a fourth high school. Career and college-minded students from around the county assemble to take classes and courses only available at THINc.

Sumter’s approval of Furlow Charter School helps deliver the promise of better public schools for all

By Elisa Falco

Former State Senator George Hooks of Americus (D-14th), has every reason to smile.  His courageous support for charter schools while he served in the Georgia General Assembly, has now borne fruit and his confidence in the local school board may even have been restored in the process.

Earlier this summer, the Sumter County Board of Education boldly asserted a commitment to change and innovation by voting 6-3 to approve the petition of Furlow Charter School.

The new tuition-free K-12 public school, which would open in 2015-16, has a singular mission to improve student achievement in Sumter County.  The charter school not only has to outperform other schools in the local district, it must also exceed average performance in the state.

It’s a tall order, but Furlow has a plan.  The school’s roadmap to more effective education for all children is a project-based learning approach that encourages students to think critically and be active participants in their learning.  Parent engagement and volunteerism is also a priority.

Furlow Charter School will offer a low student-to-teacher ratio, and “teacher looping,” where students have same teacher for two grades until completion of grade 5. The charter school would require four units of foreign language and fine arts plus two units of service learning. An extended day schedule will be instituted to support academic success.

The approval of Furlow will be music to the ears of Senator Hooks, a lifelong Sumter resident, who held the Senate chamber spellbound in 2012 when he boldly characterized the local schools he attended as a youth, and where his daughter teaches first grade, as being “in chaos,” and then voted in favor of the controversial Charter School Amendment.

The Georgia Charter Schools Association, which consulted with the Furlow petitioners on their charter, is grateful to Senator Hooks and views the approval of Furlow Charter School as a tremendous win for families and for education in Sumter County.  We expect that Furlow will bring students back into the Sumter system, and with them additional revenue for the County. We are confident that the charter school will be an engine for change and that the successful innovations piloted at Furlow can be implemented into the larger school district.

And we hope Senator Hooks will now see visible evidence of a return on his legislative investment in better public education.

Elisa Falco is Vice President of School Services for the Georgia Charter Schools Association.