This year, the school received nearly 1,000 applications for those hoping to attend Ivy Prep Academies during the 2017-2018 school year. School officials say that’s a record number of applications. They also say 90 percent of the school’s teachers have also committed to staying at Ivy Prep Acadmies for the coming academic year.
School administrators say that’s a stark contrast to the 2015-2016 school year when former state legislator Alisha T. Morgan (pictured on the left with students) was hired as executive director. During that time, the turnover rate among teachers was as high as 90 percent. In addition to a low teacher retention rate, the high school program was having trouble affording Advanced Placement classes, and Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy was struggling academically.
That led to a number of difficult decisions for the school, including closing the high school program. The State Charter Schools Commission also decided not to renew the charter for the Young Men’s Leadership Academy. Morgan says those choices and the closure of the boys’ school allowed the school to return to its roots as a charter school that serves elementary and middle school girls only.
“Student achievement is my No. 1 priority,” Superintendent Morgan said. “We had to make some tough decisions to make sure that all of our scholars are learning at high levels. We developed an innovative strategy to recruit and retain teachers that is working well for us,” Morgan said. “After replacing 90 percent of teachers at both schools at the end of last school year, we now have 90 percent retention, which is one of the hallmarks of an effective school. We are listening more to our parents and truly putting our scholars first.”
With the governing board’s support Superintendent Morgan changed the academic structure at Ivy Prep Academy Gwinnett, which allowed the principal to offer accelerated classes so eighth graders could finish middle school with high school credits in math and Spanish. She also hired a new principal at Ivy Prep Academy Kirkwood School for Girls.