NC charter schools Archives - North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools

U.S. News: Charter schools among N.C.’s top public elementary and middle schools

By News

Charter schools are among the state’s top public elementary and middle schools, according to U.S. News & World Report’s new 2024 rankings, which are based on academic performance. The publication ranked five charter schools in the state’s top 20 public elementary schools— and eight charter schools in the top 20 middle schools.

N.C. charter schools among the top 20 elementary schools include:

  • Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, #2
  • Lake Norman Charter, #7
  • Pine Lake Preparatory, #12
  • NC Leadership Charter Academy, #15
  • The Academy of Moore County, #17

In addition, Lake Norman Charter was highlighted in this recent News & Observer article about the rankings.

N.C. charter schools among the top 20 middle schools include:

  • Endeavor Charter, #3
  • The Expedition School, #7
  • Greensboro Academy, #8
  • Pine Lake Preparatory, #11
  • Triangle Math & Science Academy, #13
  • Peak Charter Academy, #15
  • Lake Norman Charter, #18
  • Envision Science Academy, #19

Congratulations to these top-performing charter schools!

Charter schools perform well in other recent rankings

U.S. News released its list of top high schools in August. As we noted in this blog post, 16 charter high school’s made North Carolina’s list of top 50 public high schools. Charter schools fared extremely well in  2024 rankings from Niche as well. Read more about that in this Coalition blog post.

Coalition member schools are in bold.

Participate in the Coalition’s Dance Video Contest for NSCW 2024!

By News
Are your students ready to dance? National School Choice Week 2024 is coming up fast on January 21-27, and the Coalition is hosting a dance contest for all of the state’s charter schools. We invite you and your students to showcase your school choice dance moves, using the tutorial and song outlined by National School Choice Week. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive an in-class pizza party—at the Coalition’s expense!!—for up to 35 students. We’ll also share the winning video, along with a runner-up video, on our Coalition platforms as part of our National School Choice Week promotion and celebration.

Action steps:

  • Decide to dance!
  • Watch the video tutorial from Indian River Charter School in Florida below on You Tube. The 14-minute video includes step by step instructions with four students and then the full dance, put to music with Indian River students.
  • Recruit dancers at your school and begin to practice.
  • Record your dance video and upload it to our Google Drive Folder by 6 p.m. Friday, December 15. Be sure to review the “Read First” instructions in the folder before uploading your video.
  • Sit back and rest! Meanwhile, Coalition Board members* will serve as judges for video submissions. *Board members at participating schools will recuse themselves as judges.
  • We will announce the winner in our Coalition Connection and Charter Chatter newsletters on Saturday, January 20—right before the launch of National School Choice Week.

Learn more:

  • Read about the dance and access a tutorial here and here.
  • Download the steps here.
  • Download the song here.

Questions? Contact Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis at nc.chartercoalition.org or 704.231.9767.

National Blue Ribbon School Leader on Parent Trust, Engagement

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Q&A with Charter Leader Tracey Duhaime

Tracey Duhaime is the principal of Greensboro Academy, a public charter school in Greensboro, North Carolina, that is part of the National Heritage Academies network. A 2023 National Blue Ribbon honoree, Greensboro Academy serves over 750 students in grades K-8, emphasizing a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and a strong moral focus. The charter school has outperformed the local school district for over 15 years.

 A former district public school teacher, Tracey first arrived at Greensboro Academy as a parent herself, later becoming a teacher and then school administrator. The Coalition’s communications director, Kristen Blair, spoke with Tracey about what first drew her to a charter school; her school’s national recognition for excellence; the importance of communication and trust between schools and parents; and more.

 We include the full interview below.

You’ve been involved with Greensboro Academy as a parent, teacher, middle school dean, and now principal. What led you to a public charter school? 

Tracey Duhaime: When my daughter was accepted into kindergarten at Greensboro Academy, we were not sure what to expect with our limited knowledge of charter schools, but we had heard amazing things and felt blessed to be given this opportunity. This is my 16th year at GA and when my daughter was in 2nd grade, I began working here as the 6th grade math teacher. I had been extremely impressed with the level of academic rigor and the teaching of moral focus virtues, the teachers and staff were outstanding, and it felt like a family community. It was something I knew I wanted to be a part of not only as a parent but an educator. When a position opened up, this was where I wanted to be to positively impact students and their school experience.

National Heritage Academies Founder J.C. Huizenga and Greensboro Academy Principal Tracey Duhaime in October, prior to an assembly celebrating 2023 National Blue Ribbon School recognition.

How have your experiences as a charter leader impacted your view about what works in education?  

Tracey: I have had a very positive experience as a leader with National Heritage Academies. There are many reasons to stay but one of the main drivers for continuing to work at Greensboro Academy is the tremendous amount of support provided by National Heritage Academies. They invest in their employees by providing growth opportunities and ongoing trainings, so we’re always learning and developing as educators. There’s always someone you can call when you need help and that has allowed me to focus on the things that are more important, which are the people–the staff, the families and the kids.

The people in the building are what make this school great. Greensboro Academy has been diligent at hiring not only highly qualified teachers but teachers who care about kids and are invested in the school and the journey of our students as they move through grades K-8. Many of the teachers have watched their own children grow and learn by attending GA; it’s a personal and professional investment. We work to retain teachers and they just get better and better each year!  The smaller atmosphere provided by a K-8 school enables us to impact our students in a profound way.

Earlier this year, Greensboro Academy was named a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School in the Exemplary High Performing School category, one of just eight schools statewide to earn Blue Ribbon recognition. What was that honor like for you and your school community—and to what do you attribute the school’s success with students?  

Tracey: I don’t know that words can express how excited and proud we are to receive this award! Our staff work incredibly hard and are very dedicated and it was reaffirming and flattering to be recognized on a larger scale. Our school has seen success for many years, and I am so happy for my staff, students, and families! It is amazing to be a part of something so great! Everyone in the school contributes not only each day in the building but also to complete and submit our application. What we were sharing in our application with the U.S. Department of Education was genuine and personal because it came from everybody in the building and not just the leaders.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tremendous impact our parent organization and school board have on our school. They volunteer their time to fund and plan family events, engage in teacher and student appreciation, contribute to the classroom and the campus to make our school the best choice for families. These folks are team Greensboro Academy and it shows in everything they do!

It has been a little overwhelming and a whirlwind of a month! It has been so touching to have so many organizations and businesses in the area reach out to congratulate us. We were blessed to have had the founder and leaders of National Heritage Academies come from Michigan to celebrate with us during an assembly on October 6th–yet another example of the support provided by NHA. We welcomed Senator Berger later in the month of October and were able to showcase our school and share what GA is all about with him. My staff, administrative team, students, and families have earned this well-deserved recognition, and I am so proud to be their leader. It takes every single person in the building working together to make these great things happen. The people are the secret sauce to our success!

You’re headed to Washington, D.C. later this month to celebrate Greensboro Academy’s Blue Ribbon recognition. Any thoughts before you prepare to go?

Tracey:  I have been reflecting on my journey with Greensboro Academy over the past 16 years and the impact it has had on my family and my career. It is very humbling to be a part of something this big, and as I’ve shared with many of our families (current and prospective),  I really believe that my kids are the amazing young adults that they are because of Greensboro Academy. My kids are 22 and 18 now, and the impact of the moral focus virtues, the connections that they made with the other kids, the connections with their teachers is something [for which] my husband and I will forever be grateful.  I have had the privilege of both personally and professionally seeing the impact of this school and it just warms your heart. It is a great reminder that what we do each day is making a difference and helps to reaffirm why we chose to be educators.

Parent partnership is a big part of Greensboro Academy’s ethos and, more broadly, for National Heritage Academies. Why is parent engagement so important, and how do you work intentionally to engage your parents?

Tracey: I believe it takes a village. We need to work together, support one another, and trust each other. We are all on the same team and that team is rooting and working for the success of the students. We openly communicate with our parents before they attend that we’re going to work hard, play hard, and hold everyone to high expectations. There will sometimes be challenges or bumps in the road, but the mindset needs to be collectively supporting kids both at school and at home.

The majority of our parents truly value being a part of GA and view this as an opportunity. They know that we only have [students] for seven hours a day. Working together at home and at school is the key to raising not only well-educated children but kind people who will go on to make their own positive impact on our world. We encourage parent volunteers, and we host activities and events for both students and parents to attend. A few examples are festivals, band concerts, assemblies, moral focus luncheons, field trips, in class activities, and parent learning events. Providing those opportunities for the parents to come in and not only participate but get to know one another is important to building our school family.

 What’s the best thing parents can do to help their child’s charter school?

Tracey: Parents are the first role model and trusted adult in a child’s life and we all need to remember to lead by example. We are all on the same side and we all want what’s best for students. Respectful and productive communication is key to building the relationship with the school and with the teachers. That’s really what the teachers are looking for – they are looking for a partnership and to be treated as professionals that truly care about their children.

With one year to go, NC ACCESS is removing barriers to charter attendance

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A new report on the NC ACCESS Program shows it is succeeding in opening up educational opportunities for students. The program, which is allocating nearly $37 million in school-level grants, seeks to remove barriers for educationally disadvantaged students so they can attend charter schools. Funded through the federal Charter Schools Program, the NC ACCESS grant was due to sunset this fall–but has now been extended through September 30, 2024.

At this week’s meeting of the state’s Charter Schools Review Board, members heard a promising update from Dr. Barbara O’Neal of the Office of Charter Schools. Sharing data from a Friday Institute program evaluation, she said she was “really pleased” with results.

NC ACCESS Highlights

  • Last year, the program served over 25,000 educationally disadvantaged students.
  • Since the program’s inception, grants have benefited 62 charter schools.
  • All NC ACCESS schools offer transportation and lunch.
  • Most of the schools are on track to offer a weighted lottery, prioritizing admission for educationally disadvantaged students.
  • 90% of the schools are deemed high-quality schools. O’Neal told Review Board members that her office will be working with low-performing schools this year.

Source: Barbara O’Neal, NC ACCESS Presentation to the Charter Schools Review Board, November 6, 2023.

Leaders from several NC ACCESS schools, including Eugene Slocum of Alpha Academy and Derrick McCullough of Central Carolina Academy (both Coalition member schools), shared updates with the Review Board.

Charter Review Board Approves Two New Movement Schools

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North Carolina’s Charter Schools Review Board yesterday approved two new charter applicants from the Movement Schools network. The new public charter schools will serve economically disadvantaged students in grades K-5 in the Greensboro and Gastonia areas. Both schools are expected to open in 2025.

CSRB members voted unanimously to give the schools the go-ahead to open.

‘World-class academics and virtues’ for families lacking education options

Movement Schools is a mission-driven charter network, affirming a commitment to “teaching world-class academics and virtues in areas where families have historically lacked access to education options.” Movement currently operates charter campuses in Atlanta, Charleston, and in multiple Charlotte-area locations. The network expects to expand to other locations in the Southeast, with 10 N.C. schools planned by 2028.

Photo credit: Movement Schools.

Both new North Carolina schools will offer families full bus transportation and lunch, a tuition-free Pre-K program, and trauma-informed support.

Read more

Success Institute Principal Shadrach Martin Featured in Iredell Free News

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Shadrach Martin, the principal of Success Institute Charter School, a Coalition member school, is the subject of a new feature story in the Iredell Free News. He recently took the helm at the K-8 charter school, located in Statesville, North Carolina. Today the pressroom of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools included the story in its daily roundup of charter news from around the nation.

From the Marine Corps to public education

A Marine Corps veteran, Shadrach Martin began his career in education as a teaching assistant and bus driver, later becoming a school administrator in Guilford County Schools. He also launched a mentoring program, “A Few Good Men,” in Iredell-Statesville Schools and Guilford County Schools. In a letter to the Success Institute school community earlier this year, he shared his background in education and his hopes to bring the mentoring program to the charter school.

Principal Shadrach Martin at Success Institute. Photo credit: Iredell Free News.

We share an excerpt from the Iredell Free Press story below:

Martin strives to lead by example and is known as a hands-on leader.

When a coach had a schedule conflict, Martin stepped in to help coach basketball. He also has driven the school bus on an early release day.

His mission is to educate children — inside and outside of the classroom.

“It’s not about telling them, but showing them — while putting the resources in front of them — about what’s out there to help them reach their full potential,” Martin said.

Martin wants to increase academic rigor and make sure every student leaves the K-8 school prepared for high school. He also stresses the importance of giving back to the community and has students participate in community service projects throughout the school year.

Read the rest of the article here. Congratulations to Shadrach Martin and Success Institute Charter School!

Niche: Charter schools among N.C.’s top-ranked public schools

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Education platform Niche has released its 2024 school rankings, with N.C. charter schools earning top honors among the state’s public schools. One N.C. charter school–Raleigh Charter High School–is ranked #4 on the list of the country’s best charter high schools. Among elementary schools in North Carolina, 18 of the top 20 public schools are charter schools!

These charter schools made Niche’s list of the state’s top public high schools:

In addition, these charter schools made Niche’s list of the state’s top public elementary schools:

  • Southeastern Academy, #1
  • Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, #2
  • The Academy of Moore County, #3
  • Quest Academy, #4
  • The Expedition School, #5
  • Woods Charter, #6
  • Sterling Montessori, #7
  • Summerfield Charter Academy, #8 (Ranked #1 among best public elementary schools in the Greensboro area)
  • Greensboro Academy, #9 (Ranked #2 among best public elementary schools in the Greensboro area)
  • Endeavor Charter, #10
  • Magellan Charter School, #11
  • Willow Oak Montessori, #13
  • Tiller School, #14
  • Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, #15
  • Socrates Academy, #16
  • Lake Norman Charter, #17
  • Pine Springs Preparatory Academy, #18
  • New Dimensions, #19

Read more about just charter schools:

*Coalition member schools are in bold.

New Study: Attending KIPP Charter Schools Helps Boost College Completion

By News, Research

Students who attend KIPP middle and high schools are much more likely to enroll in–and finish–college than students who don’t. Those are the exciting findings from a new Mathematica study, released earlier this month.

KIPP, an acronym for Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national nonprofit network of public charter schools in 21 states and Washington, D.C. The network consists of 275 schools, serving 120,000 mostly minority and economically disadvantaged students. In North Carolina, KIPP’s network features eight public charter schools, including several Coalition member schools.

Here’s the write-up from KIPP about the findings:

The study followed 2,066 students from ten regions who applied to join KIPP in 5th and 6th grade via an admissions lottery. These students graduated from high school in the classes of 2016, 2017, and 2019 … Researchers tracked the college enrollment and persistence patterns of all three cohorts for at least three years after high school graduation.

… The study concludes that students who persist at KIPP from middle school to high school experience a large, long-term boost in their college outcomes.

KIPP impacts and college completion

Specifically, KIPP graduates were 31% more likely to enroll in college than students who did not attend KIPP middle and high schools. Almost twice as many KIPP graduates earned a degree from a four-year college within five years, compared to non-KIPP students (39% versus 20%).  Such impacts, KIPP notes, are “large enough to close the degree completion gap for Black students and nearly close the degree completion gap for Latinx students in the United States.”

Source: “Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle and High Schools on College Enrollment, Persistence, and Attainment,” Mathematica, September 12, 2023.

Read the Mathematica study, KIPP’s summary, or The 74 article about the study.

County Commissioners Approve Charter School’s Facility Funding Request

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Congratulations to Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy! Last night Bladen County Commissioners approved the public charter school’s request for $70,000 in funds to renovate the school gymnasium. PRBLA, a Coalition member school located in Elizabethtown, is the state’s only public charter military school. The school serves a 95% economically disadvantaged student population. Dr. Jason Wray, a former U.S. Army warrant officer, JROTC instructor, and principal, has served as the superintendent since January 2022.

A first: Facility funds by direct appropriation from county commissioners

The news is especially noteworthy as PRBLA is the first charter school in the state to receive facility funds by direct appropriation from county commissioners. Such funding is newly possible based on a law that passed late this summer. The Coalition advocated intensively for passage of this law.

Funds are also well-deserved. The school has used its facility to invest in the local community, hosting camps, town council meetings, parades, festivals, and more.

Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis attended last night’s county commissioners’ meeting, along with Dr. Olivia Oxendine, a member of the State Board of Education.

We’re so excited to see impacts from this new law already–and know these funds will directly benefit this charter school and local community. Congratulations to Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy, and to Superintendent Jason Wray and other school leaders!

Pictured from left to right: Scott Johnson, a member of the board at PRBLA; Dr. Jason Wray, the superintendent of PRBLA; Dr. Jacqueline Wray, human resources director at PRBLA; Minnie Price, the chair of the board at PRBLA; and Lindalyn Kakadelis, the executive director of the Coalition.

Superintendent Wray stands with Dr. Olivia Oxendine of the State Board of Education.

A view from last night’s meeting of the Bladen County Commissioners.

Students from Pinnacle Classical Academy Named CLC Junior Scholars

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Congratulations to William Brooks and Hannah Clontz, both rising 11th graders at Pinnacle Classical Academy, a Coalition member school. William and Hannah have been named Junior Scholars by Classical Liberals in the Carolinas (CLC). CLC is an organization composed of scholars and business leaders, and it seeks to “cultivate the ideas of individual liberty, responsibility, equality before the law, in keeping with the American founding and the classical liberal tradition,” according to its mission.

Here’s an excerpt from Pinnacle’s press release:

The students were named CLC Junior Scholars in honor of Dr. Michael C. Munger, the recipient of the inaugural John A. Allison IV Award, given annually by CLC and Pinnacle Classical Academy’s Classical Foundations Program. Dr. Munger is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University. Brooks and Clontz were honored on August 4 at CLC’s annual conference, as was Dr. Munger.

“We are so proud of William and Hannah, and deeply grateful to CLC for recognizing our students’ hard work,” said Dr. Shelly Shope, the school’s headmaster.

Pictured from left to right: Professor Michael Munger, Hannah Clontz, John Allison IV (retired CEO, BB&T), and William Brooks. Photo credit: Pinnacle Classical Academy.

Congratulations to these students, their families, to Shelly Shope–the headmaster and a Coalition Board member–and to Pinnacle Classical Academy! We’re proud of your achievements.