7 Pillars Career Academy opened its doors on Monday, August 1, in the city of Forest Park. The Clayton County public school is the only locally-approved charter school to open in the state of Georgia this year. And according to board member Sharon Daniel, the school is the first charter school to gain approval in Clayton County in the past ten years.
As part of its mission, 7 Pillars will work to ensure students are college and career ready. The school also wants to set the standard for educational competence, community influence and raise the bar for the power of good character. 7 Pillars seeks to play a pivotal role in the Forest Park community, which currently has a high drop out rate, particularly for black male students. It’s something 7 Pillars founder Christina Guillen is determined to help decrease through her work at the school.
One way the school hopes to improve the local drop out rate is through its restorative justice practices, which are part of the school’s core principles. 7 Pillars plans to use those practices to be a suspension free school.
Other unique features include a free afterschool program; academic classes no larger than 20 students; 1 to 1 technology; college tours and career apprenticeships; and providing students with breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. The school also applies 1 of the 7 principles of all civilization called the “Nguzo Saba” or first fruits at each grade level. The principles are intended to be the guiding character focus for students as they journey through the school year and work to build expertise in service, academic mastery and character. The school also offers three career pathways: computer science, culinary arts and construction architecture.
7 Pillars is also eager to spread its impact beyond its own students. This Saturday, the school is hosting a Build Day that is open to all Clayton County sixth graders. The purpose of the event is to allow students to learn introductory construction techniques and strengthen their math skills. It’s one of the many ways the school hopes to make a positive difference in the coming years.