Last Year, DeKalb PATH Academy was named GCSA’s 2018 Charter School of the Year. The DeKalb County public charter school received the honor after meeting GCSA academic and operational eligibility requirements and impressing a committee comprised of a representative from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, a previous Charter School of the Year winner, The Coca-Cola Company and Atlantic Capital Bank. The panel of non-GCSA staff members heard from a number of worthy finalists but was impressed with DeKalb PATH Academy’s plan to link the monetary award directly to student academic achievement. The school used the funding to purchase Chromebooks for the entire student body.
“The grant was the true blessing in receiving that award. We knew exactly how we wanted to spend it. It was on Chromebooks and instructional technology for the kids,” said Crystal Felix-Clarke, “We’re seeing a big impact now that all of them are in place. Instruction is completely different for kids, they don’t have to wait their turn to use a laptop and teachers can plan their lessons on Google Classroom, including instructional videos and studying references and links.”
Felix-Clarke said the Chromebooks have been life changing for some students because a number of them do not have access to a computer at home.
“Things as simple as learning how to maneuver a keyboard, navigate the Internet and write an essay, our kids are coming to school and learning how to do those things in school for the first time,” so having the constant access to that is a way to even out the playing field,” said Clarke.
Kelly Newman, a sixth grade social studies teacher has been able to take her students on virtual field trips this year as a result of the additional Chromebooks.
“I’m able to show them the world. Right here in the classroom, they can travel to the Panama Canal and the Amazon Rainforest from the comfort of their seats,” said Newman. “It’s been amazing.”
Fifth grader Jaime Garcia is happy he no longer has to wait in line for a computer or a limited number of laptops.
“It’s helped me because I can do research on the things I need to know,” said Garcia.
Felix-Clarke said she’s grateful to GCSA for holding the Charter School of the Year contest and to the Coca-Cola Foundation for funding the enormous honor.
“I want the Coca-Cola Foundation to come see what these children are doing and then they’ll see that their investment was well sowed.”
DeKalb PATH Academy will present on at the 2019 Georgia Charter Schools Conference on Friday, Feb. 15. The presentation is directly linked to the grant the school received from its 2018 Charter School of the Year Award. In the breakout session, DeKalb PATH Academy will present on how it empowered teachers through the use of data analysis. Clarke said the addition of school-wide Chromebooks allowed DeKalb PATH Academy to gather key data to make effective instructional changes throughout the school year.
The 2019 Georgia Charter Schools Conference will take place Feb. 13-15 at the Savannah International Convention Center. You can read about DeKalb PATH’s presentation and other breakout sessions that will be offered here.