Reaching All Minds Academy set to open August 2014
Another charter school will be opening its doors in Durham in August 2014.
Reaching All Minds Organization will open as more than just an afterschool program next year after receiving approval recently from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to become one of the state’s newest charter schools.
“The road has been long, about a three- to four-year process,” said Shilanka Ware, a representative of Reaching All Minds Academy, which the new school will be called. “We applied last year but we were denied. Our hard work and persistence paid off.”
Reaching All Minds Academy was one of four charter applications submitted from Durham. The other three – Antonio Academy, Excelsior Classical Academy and NC Connections Academy – were not approved for the 2014-15 school year.
“We believe that (N.C. DPI) felt the passion of the board and know that we’re here to treat the whole child. Our students come to us with issues at home or psychological issues so a part of teaching them and getting through to them is reaching them.”
RAMA will be the newest hands-on STEM charter school in Durham and will begin with children in kindergarten through third grade in its first year. In its second year, RAMA will add fourth grade, and will continue to add a grade level per year for the next five years.
Ware said that at its current Holloway Street location, RAMA can accommodate 250 students, its maximum enrollment.
“One hundred and fifty students are expected the first year and we don’t see that being a problem because so much interest has already been expressed.”
Ware explained that’s RAMA’s hands-on approach will include building bridges and using Leggo building blocks to keep children engaged.
Reaching All Minds Organization has been providing the Turning Kids Around Outreach- 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program for the last four years as a Supplemental Educational Service to kindergarten through eighth-grade students at Title I schools in Durham who need assistance with reading, writing and math after scoring a level one or two on end-of-grade tests.
As a Supplemental Educational Service, the afterschool program provided free tutoring services and opportunities to participate in a variety of activities including choral singing, etiquette training, dance, 4-H, gardening, screen printing, computer skills and electronic gaming and outdoor play and seasonal activities like swimming, skating and bowling.
All of the children served at the afterschool program are not low achieving. Some are at grade level and their participation helps them maintain what they’ve learned and prepare them for the next level.
Ware said that once word got out that the Reaching All Minds Organization was applying for a charter, support poured in and so did parents saying that they wanted their children to attend.
“We realized that some of our inner-city youth are failing and they’re discouraged,” Ware said. “We’re in a high-minority neighborhood, and we noticed that with time and commitment with the kids, they can perform and we want to extend that to all of the kids in the neighborhood.”
RAMA will base admissions on the lottery system like other charter schools in the state but will operate on a traditional school-year schedule, but with an extended day. Ware said that the exact hours are still being determined.
She added that initially there will not be bus transportation for students but a carpool arrangement will be setup to meet transportation needs. There will be bus transportation in the future, depending on the number of students in need.
“Hot meals were also provided with the afterschool program so that won’t change [when we open as a charter school],” Ware added. The school also will offer hot lunches and have a breakfast program.
RAMA has a year to continue with planning, organizing and preparing to open as a charter school, but will continue to operate the afterschool program.
During that year, Ware said, the building will be renovated to ensure that technology can be successfully integrated into the facility and meetings will continue with curriculum and technology consultants and vendors.
Ware added that the school’s location will play a role in its hands-on approach.
“We are miles from [Research Triangle Park], so we’re reaching out to them and getting relationships with the technology and pharmaceutical firms in the area to work with us and our students.”
A series of public interviews, open houses and other marketing techniques will be used to spread the word about Reaching All Minds Academy.
“We are honored yet humbled by this opportunity. We realize that we have a challenge ahead of us but we are ready to tackle it with hard work and determination.”
FIND OUT MORE
For information on Reaching All Minds Academy, visit www.reachingallminds.com or call 919-596-1899.