ATLANTA- Alisha Thomas Morgan, the former state legislator who co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment expanding school choice in Georgia, will continue her advocacy in public education as the new head of Georgia’s first single-gender charter schools network.
Morgan was recently named as executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, which serves more than 1,300 students in three metro Atlanta public charter schools. She was appointed by the Board of Directors of IPA to lead the charter network after a national search for a new executive director picked Morgan as a top contender among 100 applicants.
“Ms. Morgan has been very involved with public education in the state of Georgia, especially within the charter school movement,” said Christopher Kunney, chair of IPA’s governing board. “She is very passionate about providing students with a quality education. Her commitment to kids will resonate well with our teachers and the community that we serve. Under her leadership, we will build Ivy Preparatory Academies into a national model for single-gender education.”
On Monday, Morgan will visit with new and returning students during the first day of school at Ivy Prep Gwinnett, which is located at 3705 Engineering Dr. in Peachtree Corners. She will also visit Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls and Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy (IPYMLA), which are both housed at 1807 Memorial Dr. in Atlanta.
Morgan comes to the executive office at IPA with vast experience in business, education, policy-making, and grassroots community mobilization. She is an entrepreneur, a nationally sought after motivational speaker, and a graduate of the prestigious Broad Superintendent’s Academy, an 18-month program that prepares executives to lead and transform urban schools districts.
“I am extremely excited that the board selected Ms. Morgan as Ivy Prep’s new Executive Director,” said Dr. Nina Gilbert, founder of IPA. “Locally, many only know Ms. Morgan as a politician. However, I also know her as passionate and bold leader who understands what it takes to improve student achievement. In addition to her work as a legislator who fought tirelessly for the children she now serves, she is also a Broad Fellow and is among an elite group of individuals who lead some of the nation’s largest urban districts and charter school networks. She has great plans for Ivy, and I have complete confidence in her ability to advance the mission and vision of our schools. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Ms. Morgan and the thousands of parents, teachers, and supporters we are engaging with on this journey to make educational excellence and college completion a reality for more metro Atlanta children.”
Morgan, who was elected to the State Legislature at age 23, is the first African American to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives. In the years to follow, she emerged as a statewide leader in the education reform movement. In 2012, Morgan co-sponsored state legislation that allowed an alternate state authorizer to open charter schools denied by reluctant local school districts. She was also appointed by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to serve on a committee that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a federal guideline to increase school accountability for student achievement.
Morgan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Drama from Spelman College and is earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Kennesaw State University. She is a product of a single-gender education and has long been a supporter of IPA.
“I remember my floor speech about the ‘Little Girls In the Green Jackets’ who, like all Georgia students, deserved quality public schools that met their needs,” Morgan said. “After advocating for Ivy Prep as a state legislator for many years, it feels like coming home to now serve as their leader. My work as a public servant and education reformer has prepared me for this moment. I am looking forward to partnering with parents, the community, and our stakeholders as we make Ivy Prep a proof point for what is possible in public education.
“We need to lead the nation in innovation and producing scholars who are critical thinkers for the 21st century,” Morgan added. “With the support of the board, I’m excited to lead the organization to the next level. We will work together, leveraging every resource that we have, to achieve that vision.”
Morgan has received several national recognitions. She was named as one of “America’s Young Civil Rights Leaders” by AOL’s Black Voices and lauded as part of the “New Power Generation” of young enterprising women honored by Essence Magazine. She and Dr. Gilbert share the honor of being named as “Class Acts” by theroot.com in a celebration of 23 top educators in the nation. Morgan is the former co-chair of the Parent’s Advisory Council of the National Coalition of Public School Options.
Morgan takes over as executive director at IPA during a time of growth and change:
In May, IPA graduated the inaugural Class of 2015 with a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent four-year college placement rate. The seniors received more than $170,000 in scholarship offers.
Last spring, the state approved new boundaries for IPA that boosted enrollment and more than doubled the attendance zone. IPA can now draw students from Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County Schools as well as DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
Last winter, IPA Kirkwood School for Girls raised $14 million in bond financing to purchase the Atlanta strip mall that houses its campus making it one of the state’s first public charter school districts to become a landowner and a landlord.
IPA’s momentum will continue throughout the school year as an operations overhaul works to improve efficiency, teaching, and learning. The change has resulted in new leadership at two Ivy Prep campuses and new academic programs designed to boost student achievement.
“The board is very excited about the promotions that have taken place and the recruitment of a host of new teachers,” Kunney said. “The changes we are making now will set a strong foundation for the future of our schools.”
IPA Gwinnett will partner with community supporters to provide internships for students. IPA Kirkwood School for Girls will add more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics lessons and formally seek STEM certification. IPYMLA, which was on a state list of schools in need of improvement, has an enhanced curriculum that will focus on reversing declines in student performance and exposing scholars to leadership training.
“Student achievement is my No. 1 priority,” Morgan said. “And while we celebrate the successes that we have had at the girls’ schools, it is unacceptable that we have not met the needs of our young men. If we are not here producing top quality scholars, then we are not doing our job. I won’t accept any excuses. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that all of our scholars are learning at high levels.”