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New charter school set to launch

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Logan Parker, 6, left, reads a book during his interview for Global Achievers School with Lisa Swinson, principal and founder of the school on Thursday in Spring Hope.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Nash County’s newest charter school plans to open its doors in the next few weeks.

Global Achievers School had originally planned to operate in the Bailey/Middlesex area, but that situation did not work out, said Lisa Swinson, the head of Global Achievers Academy. However, the school did find a home in Spring Hope, where it will operate from the campus of the former Spaulding School that now houses the Spaulding Resource Center.

“We are very happy with this property and plan to be here long term,” Swinson said. “The property already had a gym and classrooms. It also has plenty of outdoor space and can be renovated more easily than we first thought.”

After a long bidding war, the property was sold by Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools to S &J Holdings earlier this year at a price tag of $173,911.63. The owners of the property are leasing it to Global Achievers Academy. However, while renovations are being made to the buildings, the school will primarily operate out of two modular units that are to be be placed on the property.

Swinson said the town of Spring Hope has been very supportive of the move and that many parents in the area welcome a new option for a free education for their children.

“Most parents I talk to are very excited about the charter school. They are especially drawn to our plan to have classes with no more than 20 students each. They also like the fact that we are focusing on project-based learning,” Swinson said.

Project-based learning offers a hands-on approach to education. According to plans submitted to the state, Global Achievers School plans to focus use this method to increase student achievement in four areas: Critical thinking, communication skills, creativity and collaboration. Swinson said the school also plans to incorporate plenty of field trips — or “field experiences”— in the learning model.

This learning model will be used to help the school gain its mascot, Swinson said.

“We do not yet have a mascot. During the first week of school, the students will do research and discuss what a mascot is and its purpose and then they will help choose our mascot,” Swinson said.

Swinson said more than 200 families filled out interest forms for the school, and 103 are already enrolled. With a first year cap of 120 students, Swinson said she is confident the school will be operating at full capacity when it starts. The school will serve students in grades K-3 for the first year and plans to add a grade level a year until it becomes a K-12 school.

The start date is still up in the air. The original plan was to begin on July 30. However, the school is still waiting on formal approval from the Spring Hope Board of Adjustments before they can order the two modular units they plan to lease for the first year or two of school, Swinson said. That meeting is supposed to take place this week, and if approval is gained, the units will be ordered, she added. 

Swinson said parents are understanding of the situation and realize the start date may be delayed a little. However, the school, which will operate on a year-round schedule, will begin each year earlier than most area schools. During the breaks between sessions, the school will offer learning camps provided by a third party at a reasonable cost to parents. Some scholarship money will be available for these camps, Swinson said.

Swinson is not only the principal but also a founder of the school and one of the driving forces behind its existence. Swinson said she worked for several years at the state level in the Office of Charter Schools and had ample opportunity to review data from charter schools across the state and to learn from the experiences of other charter schools. She began to see a need for a charter school in southern Nash County, and the idea for Global Achievers School was born.

So far, Swinson said the school is drawing both staff and students from Nash County, Johnston, Wilson and Wake counties with a few from further afield.

“There was a clear need for choice in this area,” she said, “and I think parents are appreciating the choice — the fact that we are giving them a choice,” Swinson said.

For more information about the proposed charter school, follow the Global Achievers School on Facebook.

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