“Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”-Michelle Obama
The words of Michelle Obama’s quote helped inspire the creation of Harriet Tubman Charter School. Many new charter schools face challenges with getting communities and families on board with their vision. The mission of HTCS is to create lifelong academic, self-esteem and career skills in tech and engineering for all students. The vision of HTCS is to be a ‘Lighthouse in the Community’. The goal is to create an excellent school that also provides socio-economic support systems to parents and families in the community. The leaders of the organization have designed positive programs that create or maintain equitable communities. Our educational component directly targets educationally disadvantaged neighborhoods, and creates a platform for success. Our education philosophy follows the following principles: “Excellence. Esteem. Achievement.” Yet, Harriet cannot find a home in the City of Atlanta. The school desires to be in the West Atlanta area to serve Black and brown families.
This is a concern that many Charter schools and Charter networks face. However, families and communities also feel overwhelmed and under attack with so many companies and schools wanting to come into their communities and what appears to take over their schools. A lot stakeholders vote no because they hear the words “charter school” Below we hear from Harriet Tubman Charter School in their efforts to find HTCS a home in Atlanta.
In what ways will HTCS help children and families?
Harriet Tubman School of Science & Tech mission is to be ‘A Lighthouse in the Community’. Our school culture is dedicated to helping our children and supporting our parents. Upon approval, we will appoint a community board that will meet monthly with our executive board. This will to ensure we are listening to and meeting the needs of the community. HTCS plans to:
- Improve academic success within the community
- Provide enrichment services for students such as dance, arts, acting, performance and more
- Offer GED classes for parents
- Offer computer classes for parents
- Provide in home computers for all families of our students
- Job assistance
- Provide 1:15 student ratio tutorial for students in afternoon & through expanded day
- Provide workshops for parents to understand what the school is teaching
- Partner with different organizations for rental assistance, bill pay assistance, and more
- Create food & clothing drives to help children in need
- Support businesses in the community through local partnerships and vendors
- Respond directly to the needs of the community as expressed by the community
What will HTCS do differently than current traditional public and charter schools?
Currently, many companies are replacing human workers with computers. These computers need programmers and coders to operate. Harriet Tubman School of Science & Tech will have a core curriculum that includes Computer Science. Students will be taking core computer science classes 2x/week as well as during expanded day. Our goal is to teach students computer science skills starting in Kindergarten, so upon graduation from high school, students can enter the computer science workforce immediately or continue into college. Or, students can create their own start-ups. Computer Science salaries range between $50,000-150,000/year DOE.
Additionally, our school culture celebrates scientists of all ethnicities. Each class will be named after famous scientists that have made a mark on history. For example, our Kindergarten class will be named after Katherine Johnson(Hidden Figures): An African-American woman who revolutionized NASA’s aeronautics and space programs. And, our 1st grade class will be named after Henry Sampson, an African-American man who is co-inventor of gamma-electric cell, or the first cellphone. Our children will directly connect to science and technology through understanding its creators. We plan to take field trips to NASA, aeronautics companies, and more.
In what ways will HTCS continue traditions of the historic Atlanta communities?
The school is committed to maintaining the traditions of the community in that it will ensure that southwestern Atlanta students have a place in the school through weighted lottery and enrollment priorities. We plan to partner with organizations that traditionally have held a strong community alliance with southwest Atlanta, especially local community centers. And, represent the children of southwest Atlanta through embracing their culture and reflecting it throughout our own school culture. In addition, the school will align itself with the strategic plan of the cluster. Harriet Tubman charter school plans to STEM certify in alignment with the Douglass & Washington Cluster strategic planning.
How will HTCS advocate for affordable housing, safe routes to schools and equitable resources?
Harriet Tubman Charter school is committed to providing safe routes for children. We will designate a “walking school bus”, where volunteers will walk students to and from school in the morning and the evening times. The PTA can set up a car pooling system for students. And, the school can make sure that it has access to safety measures such as bright lights located on and near the school facility for darker hours. HTCS will advocate for parents in planning to partner with organizations such as the Beltline community, Habitat for Humanity, NACA, and (AHA)Atlanta Housing Authority. HTCS will discuss with appropriate representatives qualification measures for parents and have parents see if they can qualify. Harriet Tubman Charter School will also have eligibility budget classes to help parents save and spend wisely to achieve affordable home ownership status. Harriet Tubman will make sure its eligible parents have access to childcare subsidies that will support working parents through our before care and after care services.
What partnerships for after and before school care, early learning and family engagement will be developed?
Harriet Tubman Charter School will provide both before and after school care for its children. It is important that we help as many parents as possible qualify for the childcare subsidies program to receive care. HTCS plans to partner with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA for family engagement. Also, we plan to connect with early learning programs such as local Pre K programs in the community, implement Kindergarten rise up programs and invite Pre K parents to tour our school as well. Additionally, the school plans to have parent orientation, community nights, pep rallys, and be a very active organization within the community.
How HTCS will turnaround student achievement it’s first 2 years?
Harriet Tubman School of Science and Tech is committed to achieving high student gains through hiring effective leaders, teachers, and quality staff that are dedicated and skilled in obtaining high achievement. The Board will also receive monthly academic reports so that it can be addressed and resolved in real-time at our meetings. Leadership will be key in ensuring student achievement on state mandated tests.
The school is committed to utilizing student data and interim testing to understand its student’s weaknesses. Once student weaknesses are identified, the school will adapt its academic platform to directly meet the needs of the student and target those areas. This includes remediation, tutorial, smaller teacher/student classes in specific subjects, and more. Harriet Tubman Charter School will have specific monthly and annual targets to meet as a school.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” –Harriet Tubman
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.