Fulton Leadership Academy is committed to a rigorous academic environment that empowers young men in grades 6-12 to become productive civic leaders. Within the offered curriculum, there is a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and a thematic approach that integrates experiences with aviation and aeronautics.
I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with the Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Char-Shenda Covington who provided some insight into the academic success of Fulton Leadership Academy. As we celebrate National Charter Schools Week, check out what FLA is doing to improve learning for African-American boys.
ProfessorJBA: What is the current academic focus at FLA?
Dr. Covington: Academically, my focus was to build a comprehensive curriculum, instructional and assessment framework to teaching and learning, aligned to the Georgia Standards of Excellence. This was inclusive of taking the GSE and creating our own pacing guides, that mirrored the state’s, but in a manner that everything was taught prior to the administration of the Georgia Milestones. Time after the tests is to be used for project-based learning, coupled with culturally relevant real-word approaches to STEM activities. We provided modeling to our teachers, along with internal and external support with lesson planning, differentiation, professional development, and instructional strategies to meet the 21st century scholar. Lastly, an in-house benchmarking system was created to track our scholars’ success. Based on our students’ performance to-date, we are looking for innovative ways to bridge gaps between where students are and where they should be cognitively.
ProfessorJBA: Kudos to you and your team. As the CAO, what other resources have you brought to FLA?
Dr. Covington: Other than academics, my focal point this year was to implement programs and foster partnerships geared to the social-emotional aspects of our scholars.
One major initiative I created/implemented this school year, was Passport to Manhood. The purpose of this program was to provide a system of support, through multiple resources that contribute to the improvement of Fulton Leadership Academy’s scholars cognitive, social, psychological, and emotional growth. The other goal was to provide various systems of support that lead to continuous satisfactory progress towards diploma completion. The cornerstone of the program is the mentoring component, in which all students have the opportunity to build relationships with our faculty and staff outside of the teaching/learning environment. Our thematic approach enables us the opportunity to empower youth, emphasize the importance of education, grow leaders, develop fraternal bond amongst scholars, and affect positive change within the community. I included the staff in the selection of the name of the program to foster buy-in.
The Power of Partnerships
One partnership, new to FLA was Alpha Academy 2.0. This program was two-dimensional. The middle school program is entitled, Brother I Got Your Back (BIGYB), and the high school component is Alpha ESQuires. This is a partnership between our school and the Omicron Phi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. They meet with our scholars monthly, communicate with them regularly, and provide mentorship in every component of life. They have participated in community service events, health & wellness seminars, and will travel as a unit. Alpha will also open their program up next year to scholars outside of FLA to build the brotherhood across their service area.
FLA School Turnaround Work
The success of each of these initiatives or frameworks is heavily reliant on the notion, that together everyone achieves more. Though this is my first year, the vision was nurtured and developed once in the trenches with the amazing staff of FLA. Every person in the building or in support FLA was a contributing member. From the superintendent to the custodians, from interns to the governance board, to the parents that frequent our building, we worked together to ensure that our kids were the focal point to all decisions made. We have a long way to go, but we are definitely on the path for our “Return to Greatness.” We are growing and glowing.
Due to the hard work of the district staff, FLA was able to secure the GOSA Grant for Remediation, along with raising over $40K in our 8th Annual Walk/Run for Excellence. We have an amazing team, built from the ground up by our Superintendent/Founder, Richardean Golden Anderson, with the support of our Governance Board, led by Barbara Catledge-Hall.
Interested in Joining the FLA Family
For employment information, please visit http://fultonleadershipacademy.net/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=311099&type=d, as we have many positions available.
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.