ATLANTA- Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center have named Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy in DeKalb County as a “Mix Model” school for its efforts to curb bullying and to promote a supportive environment of respect among scholars.
The Alabama-based group will honor the work of IPYMLA teacher Shandreka West and her fourth grade class next month at an Anti-Bullying Summit in Peachtree City on June 18. West has been invited to speak at the Auburn University summit and share the outcome of a class project that transformed learning and united fourth graders in the charter school for boys.
“It is an honor to be recognized,” said West, who has been an educator for eight years. “The work that we are doing is encouraging students to make new friends, celebrate each other’s successes and perform random acts of kindness for their classmates. As a result, we have a more welcoming environment and fewer conflicts between students.”
In Oct. 27, West’s classroom celebrated national “Mix It Up Day”, a campaign of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program that challenges children to leave their comfort zone and cliques behind to have lunch with students that they don’t know. West decided to take it a step further and temporarily merge class activities with Ivy Prep’s other fourth grade teacher, Stephanie Mathurin, for two weeks to have a larger impact on scholars.
Some fourth graders were hesitant about the change. Others made fast friends.
“At first, I was nervous because this is my first year, and I don’t really know everyone,” said Jordan Taylor, 10. But after a few days of seeing new faces at lunch and on the playground, Taylor’s circle of fourth grade friends doubled. “I got to know more and more people. It gave me a chance to talk to them about school and their hobbies.”
Soon blossoming friendships ended awkwardness in lunch lines and tense moments on the playground between students who had previously been strangers to each other. West said fourth graders became so comfortable “mixing it up” that they asked for collaborative opportunities during the school day.
“They asked if they could ‘mix it up’ during target time,” West said. “Usually, when we are working on content areas, they don’t really get together to collaborate and share strategies. They really like the interaction.”
Scholar Keonte Knight, 10, said the outreach project gave him more study partners.
“We help each other and give each other a head’s up when we are learning something new.”
For Terrell George, 10, it was a family reunion. “Some of the kids in the other class I have known since kindergarten,” George said. “We caught up on everything we missed since we were split up into different classrooms.”
In addition to spending time bonding, scholars began to do kind things for each other and publicly praise each other during “shout-outs” for excellent work.
West wrote about her classroom experience on an application to be a Mix It Up model candidate. She was recently notified that IPYMLA was chosen as a 2015 Mix Model School.
“We were very impressed by your testimony of your program’s effects on bullying at your school,” Monita Bell, Mix It Up Coordinator, said in a note to West.
Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, credited West for the recognition and praised her initiative. “Ms. West’s collaborative strategies are making an impact on the education of her scholars,” Wiley said. “We applaud her.”
West is preparing for her talk at the conference and making plans to expand next year’s celebration. “Maybe next year we can mix it up with the fifth grade so when our scholars make the transition there, they will already be experts,” she said.
For more information, visit www.tolerance.org.
Four Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett scholars have been invited to represent the state of Georgia at the national Beta Club Convention in Nashville, Tenn. this summer after winning second place in a state Quiz Bowl competition.
The scholars, Jedidah Titus, Mackenzie Williams, Shama Khan and Janai Kameka, won the honor by defeating 75 teams participating in the Jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl contest at the state Beta Club Convention late last month. The Quiz Bowl contestants answered trivia about books, solved math problems and aced questions on social studies and science in the race against time. The game tested their mastery of the academic curriculum and their ability to work as a group.
“They had to hit a buzzer to be the first to get bonus questions,” Linda Desmond, a faculty sponsor for Beta Club explained. “The girls were ecstatic when they won. We are so proud of them. This is really a big deal. They will be representing the state at nationals.”
The Ivy Prep team entered the Quiz Bowl’s final round ranked among the top four teams in the state. The girls won 85-0 against their three competitors. Team Ivy was narrowly defeated in the championship against River Trail Middle School in Alpharetta, which placed first in the event. Both teams received plaques and invitations to nationals.
“I am very excited,” said Williams, a member of the winning team at Ivy Prep. “We studied hard to prepare for the Quiz Bowl and to learn to answer questions as quick as possible. It has been a great experience.”
The Quiz Bowl winners were among 36 Ivy Prep scholars who attended the state conference in Macon. The annual convention exposes students in grades 4-12 to activities that develop their leadership skills, push them to excel academically, and inspire them to volunteer in their communities. Ivy Prep Gwinnett allows girls in grades 7 and 8 to attend the convention.
Ivy Prep students represented themselves and the school well in Macon, Desmond said. “They all acted incredibly professional and respectful. It was a really a good trip for everyone.”
For many Ivy scholars, the conference was their first academic overnight trip away from home. Faculty sponsors said the girls spent several weeks preparing to compete in events. Some helped to make the banner for Ivy Prep in an art competition. Others competed in a Living Literature contest recreating a scene from a book. The rest competed in Quiz Bowl.
“The theme of the conference was ‘ Beta is Rocking the Country,’ ” said Hannah Bolar, a seventh grader. “We decided to do a pun on that. We drew a portrait of Bon Jovi in a rocking chair writing a song near a map of the United States.”
Ivy scholars who participated in the Living Literature competition chose to recreate the knife-throwing scene from the fiction adventure book “Divergent” by Veronica Roth. In the scene, the book’s heroine faces a test of bravery as she faces a knife-thrower in a precision demonstration for the new recruits of Erudite.
“We had so much to set up,” said Alyssa Wray, a seventh grader. “We had to make the background. We had to get our poses right and stand very still. You had to stay in one position for an hour.”
Another Ivy Prep student ran for office and gained experience competing against her peers campaigning on a state level.
Faculty co-sponsor Rebecca Enright gathered ideas to help students launch a Beta Club community service project after winter holiday break. Desmond said the club also will accept new members. Invitations to join Beta Club will be sent to scholars with at least a 3.5 grade point average who have demonstrated good behavior at school.
Ivy Preparatory Academy Schools administrators and board members celebrated the launch of an innovative expansion at the Kirkwood campus with a ribbon cutting ceremony recently.
The event marked the next chapter for Ivy Prep Kirkwood as a landowner of the strip mall that houses the public charter school and a landlord to businesses leasing property in the building.
Ivy Prep raised $13.7 million through the sale of revenue bonds to purchase the site and make the school a landmark in DeKalb County. Officials with the State Charter Schools Commission said the bond deal is the “first of its kind” for a state- approved charter school.
Scholars representing Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls and Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy welcomed the audience of supporters with the school song, motto and creed. Members of the State Charter Schools Commission, the Georgia Charter Schools Association, the Parkview Civic Association, and the DeKalb County government were among those in attendance of the ribbon cutting.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate a momentous occasion for Ivy Prep Academy,” said Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academy Schools network. “Even though Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls has purchased this building, this is an accomplishment for all three schools.
“This moment is a fresh start – a new beginning. As we cut this ribbon we are showing our community, that we are here to stay,” Wiley said. “We are making a commitment to our parents and our Parkview neighbors. I couldn’t be more proud to serve this organization and our scholars.”
The bond deal took two years to complete from the idea stage to the approval stage. Ivy Prep partnered with the DeKalb County Development Authority to seek a bond issue to finance the purchase of the 100,000 square-foot strip mall. The campus, which is at capacity with about 800 students, will soon expand. Ivy Prep received $650,000 from the bond to develop more than 15,000 square feet of space on campus into classrooms and separate the single-gender schools at Kirkwood, which currently share an entrance, a cafeteria, and a playground.
Construction will begin in late January.
“There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child,” Christopher Kunney, chairman of the board of IPA told the audience. “This endeavor shows what it means to have a village who truly invests in our children. You are our future. We are happy to serve you and to be able to provide more classroom space for you to learn and grow in and be successful.”
Kirkwood scholars are excited about the getting new classrooms. They say the expansion is needed because some classes are being held outside of the building due to space restrictions.
“The chance to expand is huge; I believe that this will give the school a better chance to suit all of our needs,” said Nicholas Oliver, a freshman at Ivy Prep Kirkwood’s new high school. “We have some high school classes at the YMCA because we could not be accommodated here with all of the students here. We will be able to attract more students to Kirkwood, and we will have more classrooms for the high school.”
Ivy Prep is the first charter school to buy a building that has a built-in cash stream of existing commercial tenants. The purchase takes a new approach to providing adequate classroom space to charter school students that could revitalize communities and breathe new life into struggling strip malls.
Gregg Stevens, counsel for the State Charter Schools Commission said: “Ivy Prep will be able to rent out their facilities and use the rent they receive to pay back the bond. Having your own facility really sends a message that you are part of a community and you deserve to be there.”
Wiley and Kunney recognized all who supported the effort to buy the Kirkwood building from staff to Hamlin Capital Management, which purchased the bonds and Baird, the underwriter for the bond deal.
Kendra Shipmon, principal of Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls, was praised for co-facilitating the project.
“She was my backing through this whole process,” Wiley told Shipmon. “I truly appreciate all of your hard work.”
Wiley also thanked Kunney for his support. “He has been at the forefront of this project from the beginning. I thank you for your guidance. I appreciate you taking time way from your own family to make this happen for our family.”
Shipmon she feels “honored” to work at Ivy Prep Kirkwood. “It’s an amazing task we have here and an amazing opportunity to change the lives of scholars.”
Shipmon said tenants of the strip mall LIV Fitness, Pizza Hut and Kirkwood Family Medicine, a Grady health care facility will remain in the plaza and forge partnerships with the school. Administrators said they would like to see Pizza Hut deliveries include school enrollment flyers and Ivy Prep parents sending their children to the clinic for physicals.
Following the ceremony, new board member Bruce Taylor looked over proposed architectural drawings of the expanded campus. He was impressed by what he saw. “This allows us to get even more kids into an excellent educational program.”
Seven years ago, Brittany Gilbert was the first sixth grader to enroll in Ivy Preparatory Academy, Georgia’s first single-gender public charter school. Now, as a senior at Ivy Prep, Gilbert has achieved another milestone. She is the first to be accepted to college.
Gilbert, 17, was accepted to Hampton University, her top college choice, recently during Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Awards
Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center. Hampton University admissions officials recruiting students at the Expo’s College Fair interviewed Gilbert, looked over her application and transcripts, and gave her a letter of acceptance to take home with her.
Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett would like to congratulate our 7th and 8th grade scholars for their academic achievement. A number of our scholars have qualified both for BETA Club (3.5 GPA or higher) as well as the National Junior Honor Society (3.7 GPA or higher).
- 7th Grade: 39% of scholars
- 8th Grade: 45% of scholars
National Junior Honor Society
- 7th Grade: 28% of scholars
- 8th Grade: 36% of scholars
Additionally, 20% of Ivy Prep 7th graders qualified for the Duke TIP Program.
Duke TIP is a global leader in identifying academically gifted students and providing them with opportunities to support their development. Find out what these TIPsters had to say about their Talent Search experience.
– from the Duke TIP web site.
Great job, scholars!
Note: Results are preliminary and do not reflect CRCT-M.
Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood for Girls
Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy
Justice Robinson is one step closer to her Harvard University dream school thanks to her years at Ivy Prep.
On June 30, Robinson will move to Massachusetts to join the freshman class at the prestigious boarding school, Phillips Academy in Andover, the alma mater of former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, and a host of judges, physicians and international diplomats. Robinson, 14, will attend summer session at Andover and return for the new school year on Sept. 9.
The straight-A student landed a full scholarship at Phillips, which costs nearly $50,000 a year, after impressing recruiters with her grades, test scores, leadership skills and laundry list of school activities at Ivy Prep. Robinson served as president of the Student Government Association, a student ambassador, a member of Ivy Prep’s Beta, drama and poetry writing clubs, and more.
“Ivy Prep helped to build my character and cultivate my people skills,” said Robinson. “It provided me with the right environment to grow and to be a leader. Without it, I would still be shy and not able to do this.”
Robinson joins a handful of other alumni who have landed scholarships in boarding schools after their middle school years at Ivy Prep. The college preparatory curriculum and focus on professionalism, responsibility and perseverance helps push students to become independent learners.
“I am so excited about going to Phillips,” Robinson said. “The level of independence and responsibility it takes to be successful in boarding school prepares you for college. I will be able to participate in so many classes and so many clubs, and still have time for my homework because I won’t have to drive anywhere.”
Robinson said she fell in love with Massachusetts during Ivy Prep’s sixth grade field trip to Harvard. A talk about boarding schools at Ivy Prep’s High School Exploration Fair in 2013 opened her mind to the possibility of applying to high schools out of state. Robinson met a representative of A Better Chance, a student service agency that helps minority students gain entry into private schools. She began the application process in October.
“It was strenuous,” Robinson said. “I had to write five essays and go on seven or eight interviews. Being an ambassador at Ivy Prep made interviewing easy for me. I was used to talking to adults and meeting new people.”
When the acceptance packet from Phillips arrived in March, the eighth grader was floored by the news. “My mom said that I could only go if I got a full scholarship – and I did it,” Robinson said. “We were freaking out and screaming, ‘I got in! I got in!’ ”
Dwayne and Beth Robinson are proud of their daughter’s accomplishments and ecstatic about her future at Phillips. “Justice is a leader and an over-achiever,” Beth Robinson said. “Her lowest grade at Ivy Prep was a 96 and her highest was a 105. She has always been on the principal’s list. But Ivy Prep gave her more than just an education; it prepared her mentally for this. They gave her leadership opportunities that would position her for greatness.”
Joy Treadwell, principal at Ivy Prep Gwinnett, said Robinson “thrived” at Ivy Prep and gained confidence in her abilities because she was inspired by her studies to step outside of her comfort zone.
In May, Robinson gave a speech at Honors Day thanking school administrators, teachers and her fellow classmates for their support. “The last few years have been the highlight of my 14 years of living,” she said. “Ivy Prep has improved my life. I know I have a great foundation for high school.”
Robinson plans to remain a Massachusetts resident for college. “I want to go to Harvard,” she said. “I love math, science, writing and acting. One day, I may be a spy or a U.S. president.”