Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Annual Georgia Charter School Awards: Tapestry Public Charter School and Utopian Academy for the Arts Charter School Network. Tapestry received the “Game Changer Award” and Utopian won for “Best Collaboration.” Both schools will receive $25,000 for educational use after earning the top number of attendee votes following live presentations at GCSA’s annual conference at the Westin Buckhead Atlanta. The 2023 Annual Georgia Charter School Awards were generously sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation.
GCSA’s Game Changer Award recognizes charter schools that tackled pandemic-related learning loss to produce game-changing results under unprecedented circumstances. The Best Collaboration Award recognizes positive and productive partnerships between schools and entities such as community and civic organizations, faith-based organizations, institutes of higher education, municipal government entities, parent groups and more.
Tapestry Public Charter School – “Game Changer Award”
Tapestry Public Charter School does not believe in classifying students as either “general education” or “special education.” Instead, the DeKalb County charter school offers an inclusive, individualized learning environment that is academically engaging, both for neurotypical students and those on the autism spectrum.
Tapestry’s Individualized Learning concept is central to the school’s mission and has proven to be a game changing initiative for the school’s students. The program began just prior to the pandemic with a focus of making the curriculum flexible and driven by student interests. Tapestry utilized GSE-aligned curriculum maps for each class, which guide the implementation of standards but allow students to choose the modality and topics used to explore standards. Curriculum is individualized by providing students with choice in exploring content at their level through one-to-one Chromebooks. They can access adaptive learning programs, which provide students with content tailored to their exact level of performance. These programs are driven by artificial intelligence, which allows students to progress through the curricula at their own pace, continuously providing instruction appropriate for students at their current academic level.
Tapestry’s‚ focus on individualization has led to students who consistently outperform the district in almost every subject and grade level, and with a population far more inclusive than that of the district and the state.
Utopian Academy for the Arts Charter School Network – “Best Collaboration Award”
Utopian Academy for the Arts Charter School Network is a one-of-a-kind arts-centered network of schools in Clayton County. Utopian offers research-based instruction with experiential learning opportunities that allow students in kindergarten through high school to participate in hands-on activities designed to help them understand academic concepts. Since 2013, with arts education as a foundational component of the school’s curriculum, Utopian Academy’s network provides Clayton County’s low-income, predominantly African American communities with access to educational offerings that have increasingly become an exclusive feature of schools in white and more affluent areas. No other school in Georgia offers a course catalog like Utopian’s, with pathways including but not limited to animation, coding, dance, digital arts, fashion design, film & tv, music and theater.
One of the most critical factors facing the expanding film and television industry in Georgia, is the availability of a highly trained and reliable workforce. Utopian is working to meet those crucial needs through current relationships and partnerships with entities such as the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Additionally, Utopian has partnered directly with the Georgia Film Academy and Trilith Studios to prepare the next wave of industry professionals.