by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Aileen Dodd,
Ivy Prep Academy, the girl’s charter school that survived a state Supreme Court challenge, will graduate its inaugural class of seniors at 2 p.m. Saturday in a ceremony at Georgia Gwinnett College.
The graduation, which will attract national school choice advocates to Atlanta, marks a victory for the charter school movement in Georgia. Ivy Prep was at the center of a 2010 state Supreme Court case that threatened to shut its doors and stifle the growth of charter schools in Georgia. The case, filed by six local school districts, challenged the constitutionality of a state process that approved and funded charter schools like Ivy Prep that had previously been rejected by local districts. The court challenge led to a state amendment that created an alternate authorizer of charter schools and secured the growth of quality charters in the state.
Ivy Prep will honor the Class of 2015, who persevered through the lawsuits and school funding cuts to receive their diplomas. The guest speakers for Saturday’s graduation will be national school reform advocate and author Dr. Howard Fuller, a professor at Marquette University and Dr. Erika James, Dean of Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business.
“To see our mission become realized, feels like a dream,” said Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, now a network of single-gender charter schools in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties. “I’m so proud of each scholar, and I’m excited of the women they will become. Since, 2008 they have been our inspiration!”
The Class of 2015 earned more than $170,000 in academic scholarships and financial aid to attend college. Each scholar completed a rigorous course load that included traditional instruction and online classes taught by highly qualified teachers and professors from across the country. IPA’s connection to online courses is being offered through a partnership with Connections Academy, a cyber school. The partnership has tripled the selection of electives, foreign languages, and Advanced Placement courses available to scholars.
The Class of 2015 also received college counseling from a task force of educators and community leaders volunteering with the Ivy Prep Foundation who worked to help them navigate the college application, visitation and financial aid process. The girls have been accepted to colleges across the Southeast.
“The Class of 2015 has a 100 percent college acceptance rate,” said Joy Treadwell, principal of Ivy Prep Gwinnett. “We are excited to see the fulfillment of our mission. We will continue to follow their progress.”
The senior class also has a 100 percent graduation rate.
“I’m so proud of our scholars,” said Dr. Nina Gilbert, founder of Ivy Prep and a national education advocacy fellow with 50CAN. “I believe we can all learn a lot about determination and perseverance from them.”
Seniors in the Class of 2015 have received multiple acceptance letters to attend Georgia State University, Oglethorpe University, Agnes Scott College, and Fort Valley State University, all in Georgia; Tennessee State University; and Averett University in Virginia.
Scholars Deja Washington, Rebekah Mills, Sana Memon and Angel Hodo recently attended the Black College Expo and were recruited on the spot by admissions officers at several four-year universities who were impressed by their academic course load, their grades and professionalism.
Hodo, who wants to study psychology in college, said she was accepted to her first and second choice schools at the Expo – Bennett College and Clark Atlanta University. She credits her Ivy Pep education for preparing her for success and the expert advice from the foundation.
“Dr. Gilbert has really shown us that we can believe in ourselves and accomplish anything that we put our minds to,” Hodo said. “Getting accepted on the spot taught me that even when I have doubts, that I should continue to push forward.”
Mrs. Wiley, executive director of Ivy Prep, is thrilled about the accomplishments of the Class of 2015. “It shows what can happen for students when you have a village supporting them and helping them to succeed.”
Aileen Dodd is president of D. Aileen Dodd & Associates Media Services and media relations coordinator for Ivy Preparatory Academy
The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.