What Happens When Traditional Schools and Charter Schools Are Located in the Same Building? Answers from a Newark Mom.

April Peele is a Newark mother of a daughter who attends KIPP Seek Academy.

I want to be completely honest with you: I don’t understand parents who say they don’t care what school their child goes to or what type of experience they have while they’re there. What parent in their right mind would say that? Certainly not me! When choosing a school for my daughter, I did my research. When I found KIPP I was pleasantly surprised by how much they offered, which was structure, organization, and a strong academic plan. Even better, KIPP was very respectful and inclusive of all religions and cultures which was at the top of my list for a school for my daughter.

I wanted her to feel accepted and respected.

When I attended the orientation at KIPP Seek Academy I was greeted by happy staff members who genuinely seemed like they cared not only about the children but also about the parents. Then when I heard that KIPP Seek Academy shared space in the George Washington Carver building, I was curious how the sharing of the facility would work. I wondered, would scholars be short-changed by not being able to have their own separate facilities like a library? And how does it work out for sharing other spaces like the gym and auditorium?

Well I am happy to say KIPP has partnered with Carver to make sure there are excellent spaces for all children in the building. Last year they worked together to renovate the existing library, making it usable and welcoming for both schools. I recently found out that the auditorium will be next on the list. Working together always yields a better result. It’s important for any school to reinvest dollars back into the scholars in different ways and while they share the building with Carver I’m glad they’ll continue these partnerships.

But the most important thing to me has been the academic and cultural experience my daughter has had as a kindergartner. Her teachers, Mrs. Cedano and Ms. Jones, are great at keeping students engaged while making math and reading fun and exciting. My daughter Hemmingway always comes home raving about her teachers and the “problem of the day.” I wish we adults had just one “problem of the day!” Both Mrs. Cedano and Ms. Jones are great assets to KIPP and the children. They exemplify what teaching is all about, implementing the curriculum and adding a measure of fun in it to make a great recipe for our kids’ success. Every parent would want that for their child and I’m glad we have that choice.

What do you think?

2 Comments

  1. Laura Waters

    Hi, Barbara. Thanks for writing. You’re right: in the past charter schools did not take their fair share of students with disabilities and English Language Learners. But that’s changing since your time in the Camden schools, especially with universal enrollment systems. KIPP in particular (Uncommon as well) isinvesting heavily in servicies for students classified as eligible for special education. I spent a day in Camden Prep (a charter run by Uncommon) in a self-contained classroom for children with multiple disabilities and was very impressed with the teacher quality, programming, and, especially, how the students were engaged in learning and social activities. Charters are changing!

  2. Barbara McDowell

    My family was educated in the public schools of Camden. My children went onto graduate fron college. I worked in the public schools as a certified school social worker. I saw first hand how charted schools were not not equipped to handle special ed students, they cannot handle students with behavior, medical, speech, death students. So all the praises for charter is from parent of children who do not require services. In Camden these children are sent back to public schools once they have received the funding.

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