Scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls are settling into the routine of classes and homework after completing a successful first week of school.
Last week, the girls’ school welcomed 450 scholars to campus for the new academic year. Enrollment increased by about 30 percent as as parents seeking single-gender classrooms and high quality school options chose IPA for their children.
IPA Kirkwood School for Girls parent Tenece Mack of Lithonia said her first grader couldn’t wait to get the school year started. Mack enrolled her daughter, Telia Ballard, as a kindergartner after a friend recommended IPA.
“Her kindergarten teacher was very skilled,” Mack said. “She was very hands-on with my daughter. That is hard to find. It is one of the reasons why I decided to bring her back this school year.”
The Kirkwood School for Girls offers elementary, middle, and high school scholars a challenging curriculum and a supportive environment that helps girls to develop intellectually and emotionally.
“The thing you get at Ivy Prep Kirkwood is love and understanding,” said Kendra Shipmon, principal of IPA Kirkwood. “You are not just one of 1,000 girls. Your teachers know your name. Your principal knows your name. For girls, working in a nurturing environment helps them to cultivate their talents and their gifts.”
Sixth grader Sydney Mitchell said she has been making a lot of new friends at Ivy Prep Kirkwood since classes began. She chose the school so that she can focus on the future.
“I like that they are professional,” Mitchell said. “They have standards that prepare you for college.”
To keep up with the growing enrollment, new kindergarten, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms were added this school year. Additional staff also was hired. New academic programs will challenge students to explore math and science careers. Scholars also will participate in a leadership conference and learn how to launch their own businesses.
“We are looking forward to a wonderful school year full of rigor and engaging lessons for scholars,” Shipmon said. “We will also have fun with our students. Classes will use more technology and hands-on activities. Our scholars will participate in special activities that help them learn more about themselves, their interests, and each other.”
Teachers will receive more support to hone their craft. A new instructional coach, Pelita Meredith, was hired to help teachers reach struggling students and challenge those in need of enrichment.
She will work in the elementary and middle school.
“The instructional coach will focus on improving student achievement by supporting teachers through modeling lesson plans, observing their classrooms, and giving them feedback,” said Sherry Miller, assistant principal of IPA Kirkwood. “They will help teachers analyze weekly assessments to identify gaps in learning.”
IPA Kirkwood will continue working toward its certification as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics-focused charter school. Last year, the school received a grant to offer more science and arts classes after school. Now, classes during the school day will feature more STEM content.
“We want to be the first STEM-certified charter school for girls in Georgia,” Shipmon said.
Miller said the STEM program is a “great opportunity” to expose scholars to science and math careers. “The number of women working in science and math roles in our society is very slim.”
According to a recent study by the American Association of University Women, the percentage of computing jobs held by women has actually fallen over the past 23 years.
In 2013, just 26 percent of computing jobs in the U.S. were held by women, down from 35 percent in 1990, research shows.
Math and science are among Kayla Dean’s favorite subjects. The sixth grader said she believes that Ivy Prep will give her a strong academic foundation that will challenge her in her favorite subjects and groom her to become a leader. She wants to run her own business one day.
“I have a lot I want to do,” Dean added. “I want to be a teacher, a purse designer, a bookstore owner…”
Shipmon said IPA Kirkwood will plan a youth conference to empower girls to be more confident at school and in life. The event, which will be open to the public, will include seminars on leadership development and entrepreneurship.
IPA schools have extended days, an extended year, and a challenging college preparatory curriculum. The mission of IPA schools is to provide a high quality education within a structured and supportive environment that prepares scholars to enter and succeed in the colleges and universities of their choice.
IPA schools have a total enrollment of about 1,300 scholars this year. The growing enrollment was bolstered by a boundary expansion approved by the state last spring.
Under IPA’s new boundaries, students who are eligible to attend Fulton or DeKalb County Schools can now enroll at Ivy Prep Gwinnett, which is located at 3705 Engineering Drive in Peachtree Corners. Students who are eligible to attend Atlanta Public Schools or DeKalb County Schools can enroll in IPA Kirkwood School for Girls or Ivy Prep Young Mean’s Leadership Academy, both of which are located at 1807 Memorial Drive in Atlanta.