Congratulations to this year’s Charter School of the Year finalists. The winner has been chosen by a committee made up of non-Georgia Charter School Association staff members and will be announced next week during a special luncheon at the 2017 Georgia Charter Schools Conference. The committee was comprised of a representative from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, a previous Charter School of the Year winner, The Coca-Cola Foundation and the community. The charter school selected for the top honor will receive $50,000 for their school thanks to a generous grant award from The Coca-Cola Foundation.
This year’s finalists are Baconton Community Charter School in Baconton, KIPP WAYS Academy in Atlanta and Oglethorpe Charter School in Chatham County.
Baconton Community Charter School
Baconton Community Charter School exemplifies the pioneer spirit. As one of the longest existing start-up charter schools in Georgia, the school’s groundbreaking experiences paved the way for the many charter schools that have followed.
BCCS serves an educationally disadvantaged population in rural southwest Georgia of approximately 850 students in prekindergarten through twelfth grades. The school has demonstrated fiscal responsibility, significant enrollment growth, consistently high academic achievement, and notable athletic accomplishments in its seventeen years.
The elementary Direct Instruction reading curriculum develops strong foundational skills, and the school wide adoption of Eureka Math is proving successful, as well. With more than 30 semester hours of college coursework offered on the school’s campus, half of the Class of 2016 earned credits through Move on When Ready, and the program is poised for even greater reach in 2017 and beyond.
Strong community support bolsters the school. Parents are committed to volunteerism. Businesses donate goods, services and funds. PTO and the Grandparents Club supply many of the “extras” on campus: technology, covered walkways, and morale-boosting perks for teachers, plus competitive scholarships for graduates. Faculty members also contribute to a scholarship fund that has awarded nearly $30,000 since its origination.
Baconton Community Charter School continues to blaze the trail to excellence in education.
KIPP WAYS Academy
KIPP WAYS Academy is a tuition-free public charter middle school located in Northwest Atlanta. The school was Founded in 2003 and serves approximately 330 students in fifth through eighth grades. KIPP WAYS is a part of the national KIPP network of schools, which prepare students for success in college and life. The school’s mission statement states: “It is the mission of KIPP WAYS Academy to prepare scholars for top quality high schools, colleges, and the competitive world beyond by instilling in each student a commitment to scholarship, teamwork, integrity, and other “WAYS to success.”
KIPP WAYS’ values guide how the school supports its teachers, builds relationships with its families, and fosters a love of learning with its scholars. KIPP WAYS ascribes to a whole-child approach to education, which includes rigorous academics, robust fine arts and athletic program, and a strong focus on developing character and serving the community. Students enter the 5th grade two to three grade levels behind in reading and math, but a balance of rigorous classroom instruction and interventions accelerate learning and achievement and make the school one of the highest performing schools in Atlanta Public Schools. By the time the school’s scholars reach 8th grade, state assessments show they are at or above state averages in all subjects.
KIPP WAYS’ school culture is built on explicit character education and our restorative approach to discipline, which teaches our scholars to make good choices and be productive citizens in our school community. In addition, Semi-annual service days build collective responsibility to community and teach gratitude through serving others. We also work tirelessly to help our scholars see the world and expand what they believe is possible. Through our Fine Arts Program and our annual field lessons, students have traveled to places like New York, New Orleans, The Bahamas, Trinidad, Ghana and South Africa. Beyond our walls, we also work to foster relationships and partnerships with community organizations, businesses and local colleges and universities to further enhance our educational program.
Oglethorpe Charter School
Founded in 1999, Oglethorpe Charter School is the oldest start-up charter school in the state of Georgia. The mission of Oglethorpe Charter School is to “partner with parents and the community to inspire students to achieve personal and educational excellence.”
As a charter school with the entirety of Chatham County as its attendance zone, OCS draws a very diverse student body and is dedicated to meeting the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical needs of each and every student that enters its hallways. In order to meet these needs of our students, OCS leverages the power of multiple stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, local businesses, universities, and community agencies) to provide each child with a strong support system.
Over the last 18 years, OCS has provided a rigorous and content-rich, hands-on curriculum through stimulating teaching in a safe and nurturing environment to over 3000 students.