On Friday, Feb. 15, the 2019 GCSA Georgia Charter School Awards were announced during a special ceremony held at the 2019 Georgia Charter Schools Conference in Savannah. The Museum School of Avondale Estates in DeKalb County received the 2019 Georgia Charter School of the Year Academic Excellence Award, and Leadership Preparatory Academy in DeKalb County won the 2019 Georgia Charter School of the Year Innovation Award.
The GCSA Georgia Charter Schools of the Year Awards are generously sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company. For the first year, two schools received the honor of becoming a Georgia Charter School of the Year due to the addition of the Georgia Charter School of the Year Innovation Award category. The Georgia Charter School of the Year Award winners were selected by a committee made up of individuals not affiliated with the Georgia Charter Schools Association.
“I was pleased to serve on the committee to select the Academic and Innovative Charter Schools of the Year. It was a difficult decision to make because each of the finalists were more than deserving,” said Yglesias Hollins, Manager of Strategic Initiatives for The Coca-Cola Company. “In the end, it was about the students and which program we believed would have the greatest impact.”
In addition to the Charter Schools of the Year, The Leader and Teacher of the Year Awards were announced at the conference. Peter McKnight, Principal of Charles R. Drew Senior Academy, received the 2019 Leader of the Year (GCSA Shoot for the Moon Award). Jasmine Dennard, a Second Grade Teacher at Charles R. Drew Elementary Academy, won the 2019 Teacher of the Year (GCSA Reach for the Stars Award). Read more about each of the Georgia Charter School Award winners below.
Georgia Charter School of the Year Academic Excellence Award: The Museum School of Avondale Estates
The Museum School of Avondale Estates is an innovative and award-winning public charter school serving nearly 600 DeKalb County students in grades K-8. Dedicated to academic excellence, the school was founded on research about how children learn best: through personal exploration and hands-on experience.
The Museum School of Avondale Estates believes the museum model of education delivers unparalleled opportunities to explore classroom lessons in real-world settings. The school is proud to count some of the regions most highly respected museums and learning institutions as curricular partners.
Georgia Charter School of the Year Academic Innovation Award: Leadership Preparatory Academy
Leadership Preparatory Academy provides a rigorous academic program and is focused on developing world-class leaders, one student at a time. The school is able to accomplish this by having students who are ready to learn, supportive parents and teachers who believe in the genius that exists in each child.
Leadership Prep collaborates with the Stonecrest community to provide opportunities outside the walls of the school for students to showcase their leadership skills. The school opened its doors in August of 2010 and has consistently outperformed DeKalb County on Georgia’s College and Career Ready Performance Index.
Leader of the Year (GCSA Shoot for the Moon Award): Peter McKnight, Principal, Charles R. Drew Charter School Senior Academy
Peter McKnight is the Founding Principal of the Drew’s Senior Academy. Drew Charter School’s first two graduating classes, the class of 2017 and class of 2018, achieved a 100 percent and 98.7 percent graduation and college acceptance rate respectively and collectively were awarded more than $14 million in scholarships. The school currently enrolls approximately 425 students in grades nine through twelve, engaging in a rigorous STEAM and Project-Based Learning curriculum.
McKnight graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, having earned Bachelor’s degrees in both Religious Studies and Mathematics. Upon graduation, he joined Teach for America and was assigned to teach at South Atlanta High School. During his tenure at South Atlanta, he taught Geometry, Calculus and Advanced Placement Calculus. In 2006, he collaborated with a group of teachers to found a small learning community focusing on law and social justice, and in 2007 he was hired as founding principal of the new South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice. During his six years as principal of the School of Law and Social Justice, the school was recognized as a Reward School and a National Title 1 Distinguished School.
Teacher of the Year Award (GCSA Reach for the Stars Award): Jasmine Dennard, Second Grade Teacher, Charles R. Drew Elementary Academy
Jasmine Dennard is committed to cultivating the strengths not only in her students, but her fellow teammates as well. As a Teach for America alumna, Dennard has spent the last six years challenging herself to be a relevant and informed educator for the benefit of her students. She strongly believes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” She makes it her goal to expose her students to the many different possibilities they have for their futures. Dennard’s leadership encourages collaboration and productivity amongst colleagues to ensure they are providing rigorous and quality instruction for students.
She feels lucky to have worked under very influential leaders and to have a phenomenal mother who also teaches second grade. As a mother of a two-year-old, Dennard strives to provide the same high-quality education she hopes her son will receive one day. She holds a Bachelor’s in English from Georgia State University and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Fordham University.