Academic Excellence Category:
Finalist: Amana Academy
Amana Academy is a Fulton County charter public school located in Alpharetta, GA serving a diverse population of 730 students in grades K-8. Now in its 14th year of operation, Amana’s unique set of educational approaches centers on the Harvard-based EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) model and is focused on fulfilling Amana’s mission of preparing students for high academic achievement beyond what they think possible, so that they become active contributors to building a better world. In 2016, Amana earned STEM certification through the Georgia Department of Education, becoming one of only two schools in Fulton County to earn the distinction, and the only Middle School to hold the title. In 2018, Amana became an EL Education Credentialed school, as well as a mentor school for both EL Education and the Georgia Charter Schools Association. This mentor school role speaks to the role of charter schools in sharing best practices. According to Amana’s Executive Director, Ehab Jaleel, “an integral part of the charter paradigm is that charter schools should be crucibles of innovation in education; and sharing those innovative practices with other schools, and even among industry professionals serves to strengthen education for all students, not just those who attend a particular school.”
These credentials and accolades point directly to the success the school has seen with student growth and achievement over the years. With a College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) rating of 92, and Middle School student growth better than 99% of students across the state, Amana’s results are proof that this innovative model works for kids. With that in mind, Amana has been approved by the State Charter Schools Commission to open a second campus in West Atlanta for the 2020-2021 school year. Amana Academy West Atlanta will have a statewide attendance zone, and will be located in the Carey Park neighborhood in the city of Atlanta. This will be a replica of Amana’s flagship school, offering the EL Education model and STEM education in grades K-8. Amana is honored to be a finalist for the Georgia Charter School of Year – Academic Excellence Award. The school was the first to win the award when it was introduced in 2011.
Finalist: Charles R. Drew Charter School
Since opening in 2000 as Atlanta Public Schools’ first charter school, Charles R. Drew Charter School has proven its innovative approach to education works. Founded through a pioneering partnership of community members, parents, philanthropists and civic leaders, Drew Charter School serves as a key component of the holistic revitalization of Atlanta’s East Lake community. Drew’s primary purpose is to serve the children of the Villages of East Lake, a mixed-income apartment community at the center of East Lake’s redevelopment. Through the coordinated efforts of Drew Charter School and its partners, children in the community benefit from a seamless, high-quality educational experience from birth through college.
Over Drew Charter School’s twenty-year history, the school has grown to serve grades PreK-12 and today enrolls nearly 1,900 students, consistently attaining strong academic outcomes among its racially and socioeconomically diverse population. From tailored Response to Intervention support to a rigorous STEAM/Project-Based Learning instructional model to robust College and Career Readiness programs, every element of this dynamic, supportive educational continuum has been thoughtfully designed to ensure all students succeed. More than just a school, Drew is at the heart of a community-wide commitment to launch all students on a pathway to health, impact and prosperity.
Finalist: Foothills Education Charter High School
Since 2015, Foothills Education Charter High School has offered students the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma in a non-traditional, flexible and self-paced environment. Foothills’ evening operating hours and mastery-based curriculum allow students to attend class and progress through their courses in a manner that is responsive to their individual needs. With 16 different locations, including three state prisons and three Youth Challenge Programs, Foothills provides students across the state safe and secure learning environments in which they can thrive both academically and socially. By using its flexibility as a charter school, Foothills supports all students both inside and outside the classroom to encourage them to take responsibility for their educational decisions, outcomes and paths to success. Through its understanding that each student learns differently and by accommodating each student’s individual circumstances whenever possible, Foothills fulfills its mission to serve as a community and state resource for students who want to earn a high school diploma in order to be successful in post-secondary and career options.
Finalist: The RISE Schools
The RISE Schools is a free public charter school network in East Point, Georgia. The charter network is comprised of RISE Grammar School (formerly Latin Grammar School), which serves kindergarten through grade five, and RISE Prep School (formerly Latin College Prep School), which serves grades six, seven and eight. The mission of The RISE Schools is to provide a rigorous and holistic education that develops the minds and character of scholars to be catalysts for social change. When scholars graduate from RISE, they will have the capacity to maintain a balance between competition and compassion to be catalysts for social change in their lives and in their communities. As evidenced by the school’s low attrition rate, annual applications, and waitlist, as well as staff attrition rates, there is a high degree of interest in RISE and demonstrated need in the south Fulton community.
Of the 18 comparison elementary schools in the area, RISE Grammar outperformed all 18 schools on the 4th grade ELA Georgia Milestone and all but one school on the 4th Math Georgia Milestone. Grammar also outperformed 12 of the 18 schools in the percentage of scholars who demonstrate Content Mastery and Readiness. Similarly, of the 7 comparison middle schools, Prep outperformed all 7 schools on the 7th grade ELA Georgia Milestone, the 7th grade Math Georgia Milestone, the 8th grade ELA Georgia Milestone, and the 8th grade Math Georgia Milestone. The local community strongly supports RISE and view RISE as a means for upward mobility for its next generation. Both schools are governed by one board and led by one Executive Director, Davion Lewis. Under Lewis’ leadership, The RISE Schools have been awarded $2 million dollars in various grant funding, purchased three properties to accommodate its growing school community, and received full accreditation from SACS-AdvancED. As a result of its turnaround and the various accomplishment of the past few years, RISE has been recognized in various ways. RISE was honored to host the legendary Civil Rights icon, Rep. John Lewis on its campus. RISE has also been honored to host State Representative David Dryer, State Board of Education Representative Kenneth Mason, the U.S. Consulate-General for the Bahamas, the Mayor of East Point, award-winning actor Lamont Rucker, and various other notable individuals.