Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy has launched new programs this school year that expose scholars to leadership development and careers in math and science.
The curriculum expansion is part of an effort to enhance learning for scholars at all levels. IPYMLA serves approximately than 410 elementary, middle, and high school scholars. The enrollment has increased by about 15 percent since last year.
“We will have some high level hands-on instruction that will make our scholars excited to come to school each day,” Outler said of the expanding curriculum.
Elementary and middle school scholars are participating in a new leadership development program that began this month. The program teaches them life skills, builds their self-confidence, and helps scholars learn how to conduct themselves as leaders capable of changing their communities. The lessons will be taught for 30 minutes each week day.
“Our scholars will learn some of the fundamentals of manhood,” Outler said. “A lot of the time, society sends messages to our kids telling them who they are, and who they should be. Those messages don’t always lead to them making good decisions. We want them to understand their true identity. They are powerful young people who are capable of great things.”
Outler said the program will help IPYLMA take a “whole child” approach to educating scholars at the single-gender school. “Research shows that when we educate the whole child to address some of their social and emotional needs, and introduce them to the greatness of their culture, we get different outcomes. They get to see themselves as the powerful young people that they are.”
IPYMLA middle school scholars are learning about math and science careers through a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) -based curriculum called “Project Lead The Way,” which is being offered through Technology Connections classes. The lessons challenge students to use their math and science skills to build robots and assemble other gadgets. The classes also will teach computer engineering to help scholars discover the technology behind video games and apps.
“They are going to be building all kinds of things,” Outler said. “STEM opens up opportunities for our scholars that will expose them to math and science careers. It expands their horizons.”
As scholars settle into the challenges of the academic day, the governing board of Ivy Preparatory Academies is still searching for a veteran leader to become the new principal of IPYMLA. A national search is being conducted for an administrator with experience transforming student achievement in urban schools. When a new principal is hired, Outler will continue to serve as assistant principal.
IPYMLA is in the midst of an academic overhaul to boost student achievement after it was placed on a state list of struggling schools earlier this year. A total of 140 Georgia public schools – including 27 from DeKalb County – on the list were warned that they could face a state takeover to improve student performance under a plan that was recently approved by the Georgia Legislature.
IPA, however, has been taking proactive steps to reverse declines in student achievement. IPA contracted the services of Yardstick Learning, one of the nation’s leading strategic management consulting firms, to provide assistance with improving school operations. A task force of local, state, and national education experts have been offering support and guidance to IPYMLA as administrators work to improve student progress.
“It’s a work in progress and a labor of love,” Outler said. “Change doesn’t occur overnight. As long as we have a dedicated leader on board and staff members who are dedicated to the work, we are going to grow. I want to thank those parents who have been with us as we have been going through these growing pains.”