Gwinnett for Girls News
In 2015, Ivy Preparatory Academy will fulfill its original mission and graduate its first class of college-bound seniors. Each month, the Senior Spotlight will feature Ivy Prep seniors, their college plans, and their experience at Ivy Prep.
ATLANTA- Ivy Preparatory Academy Network Schools will host a job fair at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 21, in Atlanta to recruit energetic educators to fill more than a dozen teaching and support positions for the 2015-16 school year.
The job fair will be held at Ivy Prep’s Kirkwood Campus at 1807 Memorial Drive. Interviews will be conducted until 1 p.m.
The job vacancies will help to meet the needs of the growing enrollment at Ivy Prep’s single-gender schools: Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett; Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls; and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy. Ivy Prep Academies currently serve more than 950 scholars in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties. Enrollment is expected to grow by more than 300 students next school year.
“At Ivy Prep, we believe that the achievement gap is a social justice issue, and we work with urgency and passion to ensure it is eliminated,” said Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of Ivy Prep Academies. “Many IPA faculty and staff members make personal sacrifices by arriving early, staying late, and doing whatever it takes to ensure that our scholars are equipped to achieve secondary and post-secondary success.”
IPA schools have extended days, an extended year, and a challenging college preparatory curriculum. The mission of IPA schools is to help prepare scholars to enter and succeed in the colleges and universities of their choice.
“Like most charter schools, Ivy Prep has to do more with less,” Wiley added. “We do not view this as a hindrance, but instead as an opportunity to innovate. Therefore, ideal candidates must posses an entrepreneurial spirit. Our work is hard, our days our long, but the rewards are great for those of us who believe in the promise that a great education should be available to everyone, including those who are not always afforded access to it. Only those who are unwavering in their commitment to this movement need to apply.”
Candidates can be new or veteran educators who have a passion for teaching and innovative ideas to use in the classroom. Administrators are seeking gifted endorsed candidates as well.
The following positions are available at Ivy Prep Gwinnett, the flagship charter school for girls, which is located at 3705 Engineering Drive, Peachtree Corners:
- Middle School English/Language Arts Teacher
- High School English/Language Arts Teacher
- Middle School Science Teacher
- Middle School Social Studies Teacher
- Math Teacher
- Foreign Language Teacher
The following positions are available at Ivy Prep Kirkwood, which has separate schools for girls and boys at 1807 Memorial Drive, Atlanta.
Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls
- Kindergarten Teacher
- First Grade Teacher
- Fifth Grade
- Ninth Grade English/Language Arts Teacher
Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy
- First Grade Teacher
- Third Grade Teacher
- Spanish Teacher
IPA provides educational choice to a diverse group of children, including students from low-income neighborhoods burdened with crime, poverty, and low expectations for kids.
In 2012, Ivy Prep Gwinnett was the only public middle school in Gwinnett County to be named a “rewards school” for high-test performance among minority and low-income students. In 2013, IPA earned accreditation from SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for its academic program and steady leadership.
“We are looking for hard-working teachers who are dedicated to the embodiment of our mission to prepare all students to enter college,” said Kendra Shipmon, principal of Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls.
For more information on IPA, visit ivyprepacademy.org.
Justin Houston, an All-Pro pass-rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs, visited Ivy Prep Gwinnett recently to offer some coaching advice about how to overcome the hard knocks of life and score with a successful career.
His visit came during his negotiation of a $13.2 million franchise contract with the Chiefs. The star athlete is known as one of the top defensive linebackers in the NFL today. Houston told the girls school of more than 300 gathered for a Community Caucus that his life may seem exciting and lavish now, but realizing his NFL dream wasn’t easy, especially when people around him doubted his abilities.
“My whole life people told me what I can and can’t do,” Houston, 26, said. “My dad wasn’t there. I didn’t have a father figure. I had teachers who told me that I wasn’t going to make it at the University of Georgia. They didn’t think I was smart enough. I’m here to tell you, don’t let anyone kill your dream.”
Houston, the son of a single mom, began playing recreation league football as a young child for exercise and fun. It gave him an opportunity to travel and show off his speed and agility. He thought he would grow up to be a great offensive player, but when his coaches saw him play, they put him on defense, which is where Houston made his mark.
After leading Statesboro High School to a state championship in 2005, Houston was offered a football scholarship to play at the University of Georgia. He told the girls of Ivy Prep that succeeding in college while playing a sport takes discipline and time-management.
“In college, you are not going to study the day before a test and pass,” he said. “I tried that a couple of times and that didn’t work out at all.”
After college, Houston was in the pipeline to become a first-round draft pick, but a failed drug test caused his ranking to free fall.
“I got into trouble because of a drug problem and I fell from the first round to the third round,” Houston said. He tried to keep the news from his family, but it was soon broadcast on sports channels. “I couldn’t hide it anymore. My mother, brother and sister were upset with me because I didn’t feel comfortable coming to them to tell them about it.”
Houston told the girls of Ivy Prep to share their problems with parents or mentors who can give them support and advice. He added that roadblocks can be overcome through faith in God, family support and a laser focus on personal goals.
“When something bad happens, some people get down on themselves and get depressed,” Houston said. “You have to turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
With the support of his family and help from his trainer, Houston found his way into the NFL despite the drug test. He started his rookie season with the Chiefs playing through his nervousness and was recognized for his potential for greatness. During his first three NFL seasons between 2011-13, Houston was praised for his defensive skills and his ability to sack quarterbacks. In 2014, Houston led the NFL in sacks accumulating a record of 22.
“My favorite part of playing football is sacking the quarterback,” he said. “Anytime you sack the quarterback that kills the offense.”
Houston’s hard work paid off big. He was recently named as a franchise player in Kansas City. His contract talks continue.
“Justin is a talented player and key contributor to our defense,” John Dorsey, general manager for the Chiefs said in a statement released to the media. “It was in the best interest of the club to place the tag on Justin. We will continue to discuss long-term options with him and his agent. Our goal is to reach a deal that is mutually beneficial. We want to keep Justin in a Chiefs uniform for years to come.”
Impressed by Houston’s story, seventh grader Jedidah Titus asked the football player about his goals outside of football. “If you could do any other job, would you and if so what would it be?” she asked Houston.
The defensive player shared his post-football dream: “I would like to train kids and help them reach their goals,” he said. “I thank God for my trainer. He really inspired me.”
Even after Houston made it to the NFL as a rookie, his trainer was there to support him. Houston said he told his trainer he wanted to play in the Pro Bowl. “My coach told me to speak it into existence,” he said. “I made it to the Pro Bowl every year except my first year.”
Houston said he is living his dream, but he wants a different lifestyle for his son, who is now three years old. As a pro football player, Houston has dislocated his elbow several times and suffered from a hyper-extended knee. “The pain I feel sometimes, I never want my son to feel some of this pain,” he said.
Houston told students no matter what career they pick; it takes hard work to make dreams come true. “You have to realize that it’s not a straight ride up,” he said. “You are going to have some bumps and curves. You have to believe in yourself when others doubt you. You have to aim high. The sky is the limit.”
Principal Joy Treadwell said the talk helped students to realize the importance of working hard to get ahead in life.
“He did an amazing job imparting upon our girls the importance of team work and of hard work,” Joy Treadwell, principal of Ivy Prep Gwinnett said after Houston’s talk. “It was great for him to dispel some of he myths our girls have about professional athletes.”
Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett welcomes you to a free, public event focusing on natural health and food choices. Help us plan for your presence by sending an e-mail to email@example.com and let us know how many guests will be with you.
In 2015, Ivy Preparatory Academy will fulfill its original mission and graduate its first class of college-bound seniors. Each month, the Senior Spotlight will feature Ivy Prep seniors, their college plans, and their experience at Ivy Prep.
Ivy Preparatory Academy school leaders recently returned from a national Best Practices Tour of charter schools in the Northeast that use innovation and a no-excuses mantra to boost student achievement.
The professional development trip, funded by the Partnership For Developing Teachers Grant, was organized by the Ivy Prep Foundation to help enhance the curriculum and culture of Ivy Prep’s schools in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, which serve nearly 1,000 students.
“Some of our school leaders have never seen charter school environments outside of Ivy,” said Nina Gilbert, founder of Ivy Prep Schools. “There are schools that are doing some phenomenal things nationally and locally. As we undergo a very comprehensive school improvement campaign, we wanted to take a look at best practices and innovation at some of the highest-performing urban charter schools in the country.’’
More than a dozen educators went on the tour including Gilbert; Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of Ivy Prep Schools; the administrators at Ivy Prep Gwinnett; the principal of Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls; and Jacob Cole, Ivy Prep’s director of communications.
The group traveled to Boys Latin High School in Philadelphia, Pa., a single-gender middle and high school campus with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that prepares young men for leadership and success in higher education. The school, founded in 2007, requires the academic study Latin for four years – a foreign language that promotes the study of government, art and a love of language. Among the innovations offered at the school is a summer session for freshmen that allows them to study for five weeks over the summer to boost their academic skills.
The tour also stopped at Mastery Charter Schools, a network of K-12 schools serving more than 10,500 students in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. Mastery follows a set of core values throughout its organization from the classrooms to the superintendent’s office that focus on student achievement, customer service, fairness, determination, joy, humor, honesty, open communication, continuous improvement and team work.
Following the Philadelphia stops, the group then traveled to Washington D.C. where they visited Achievement Prep, the highest performing charter school in the nation’s capitol. Achievement Prep outperforms its neighborhood schools by 40 points on standardized tests using the manta, “Good is not good enough – GREAT is good enough.” The school is focused on raising student achievement and challenges staff, parents and students to live up to high expectations.
School leaders later visited SEED, the country’s only boarding charter school, also in Washington, D.C.
At each stop, Ivy Prep administrators went into classrooms and met students and teachers. They also talked to principals about the curriculum, budget and community support for the school. Ivy Prep administrators looked for ideas they may duplicate in the school network.
“I’m looking for new ways of doing things,” said Joy Treadwell, principal of Ivy Prep Gwinnett. “We don’t have all of the answers. If everyone in your circle is thinking like you, you don’t always get that innovation everyone is looking for. Trips like this are important for everyone because it allows us to connect to the charter school movement and examine what people are doing across the country to make a difference in student achievement.”
Ivy Prep school leaders went on a similar tour before the school opened to students in 2008 and borrowed some of the ideas they saw in classrooms.
“There were schools that had models and strategies that we wanted to replicate,” Gilbert said.
Professional development will continue as Ivy Prep enhances its programs. Wiley said school leaders were inspired by what they saw in the Northeast.
“Our best practice trip was truly transformational to us a leaders,” Wiley said. “The schools we visited were so welcoming and accommodating, and we plan to partner with each of them in the future. The leaders and I, plan to implement some of the best practices immediately. We are truly grateful for Dr. Gilbert for planning and leading the tour. ”
The foundation that supports Ivy Preparatory Academy, the state’s first single-gender public charter school is hosting a benefit concert on Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Defoor Centre featuring Atlanta’s “King of Strings” Ken Ford.
The jazz violinist, who has shared the stage with R&B greats Jill Scott and India Irie, will share his talents in a special concert to support educational programs at Ivy Preparatory Academy Schools Network. Tickets for the event at1710 Defoor Avenue in Atlanta cost $55 per person.
Ford is a respected jazz artist who has made a national career in music as a virtuoso of the electric violin. He honed his soulful string playing in metro Atlanta where he grew up as a young musician. Ford’s parents discovered that he could play keyboard by ear when he was in elementary school. At age nine, he began to study the violin and play the classics. He is a founding member of the DeKalb Youth Pop Orchestra and a graduate of Decatur’s Towers High School. Ford later joined the African American Philharmonic Orchestra where he played with Grammy Award-winning artist Barry White and was promoted to the title of Concert Master.
But it was Ford’s desire to play popular songs heard on the radio that would eventually propel his career as a solo artist. His string renditions of R&B and jazz hits pushed him to expand his repertoire beyond the classics and develop new techniques that would attract younger and more diverse audiences to violin concerts. During his solo career, Ford has shared billing with a host of award winning R& B artists including Chaka Khan, Will Downing and Frankie Beverly.
Ford took time out of his busy rehearsal schedule to share his story with Ivy Prep Academy:
Q: Why did you choose to play violin?
A: In the fourth grade, the teacher passed out pictures of instruments. We were supposed to circle the one you wanted to play. Back in the day you had to choose something. The first thing I selected was the upright base. I had already experimented with the horn and with the drums. My parents always bought me instruments anytime I had a birthday. After I had picked the bass, I changed my mind at the last minute. That thing was huge, and my parents had a Volkswagen Bug. I decided to get the miniature version of the bass and played the violin instead.
Q: Why did you stick with the violin and show that it could be a versatile instrument used to play classical and popular music?
A: I grew up in a family that was into music. My dad was a deejay. I was at the old school parties. I was helping my dad with the records. One day I was going through the records and I came across this guy with no shirt on and an Afro. He was holding a violin. It was Noel Pointer. I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Wow!’ I put on the record. I knew right at that moment that I wanted to do that. It was really hearing someone else doing something different with the violin that excited me. I enjoyed playing classical music. When I found out that you could play the stuff that is on the radio, too, that is really what made me stick with it. The first song I learned to play is Stevie Wonder’s “Where were you when I needed you.”’ I still play that song.
Q: Would you like to see more minorities consider playing string instruments like the violin?
A: It’s happening. There is a movement. There are more and more black violinists popping up, and they are playing what they want to play. All you have to do is search electric violin on YouTube. You will be surprised how many entries come up. Some are playing hip-hop.
Q: What is it that you love about music?
A: Music is a part of me. It’s my bread and butter because I love it. Music tells a story.
It is almost like listening to a conversation. You can come up with something different even though there are millions of songs out there. Music is life. It is universal. You can play a piece of music for someone in Australia and they can still move to it here. Music is very spiritual to me as well.
Q: Tell me about The Ken Ford Foundation.
A: Before the Foundation started I would get invited to come and play at schools. I would talk to the kids about music… Later, we launched a nonprofit. Everyone has that window in the back of his or her minds. By opening that window to music appreciation, it is one of those things that can help academics.
Tickets still available
The Ivy Prep Foundation benefit concert “A Night of Jazz featuring Ken Ford” will help to expand educational opportunities for students at Ivy Prep. Ivy Prep receives only state and federal funds for the education of students. Ivy Prep schools operate on about half of the budget of traditional public schools. Ivy Prep, however, is still required to produce results in student achievement that surpass local schools funded at a higher level.
Ivy Prep Schools provide educational choice to a diverse group of students including those in middle-income households and those in neighborhoods burdened with crime, poverty, and low expectations for kids. Ivy Prep’s mission is to prepare scholars to succeed at the colleges and universities of their choice.
Ivy Prep Schools in Gwinnett and DeKalb have extended days, an extended year, and double daily doses of math, language arts and other core classes. The charter school network educates nearly 1,000 students in metro Atlanta. Ivy Prep’s flagship school for girls is in Gwinnett County. Ivy Prep also operates two schools in DeKalb County, Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls and Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
Ivy Prep Academy has a proven record of narrowing the achievement gap between students of different socio-economic backgrounds. In 2012, Ivy Prep Gwinnett was the only public middle and high school in to be named a “rewards school” for high-test performance among minority and low-income students.
For more information on Ken Ford, visit www.kenford.net.
Important Updates from Dr. Waller, Athletic Director for Ivy Preparatory Academy
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.
Team Ivy returns Friday to tip off this basketball season with a home court advantage. For the first time, Ivy Preparatory Academy will host home basketball games at the Kirkwood campus in Atlanta.
The move will allow girls’ and boys’ basketball teams to build a loyal fan base in the community. It will also attract students and families to Ivy Prep from across metro Atlanta to attend games at the Kirkwood campus at 1807 Memorial Drive.
“We have redone the floors and repainted; we have risers and a new score clock,” said Terrence Waller, Athletic Director for Ivy Prep. “Having a gym for home games will be exciting for players. It will build a sense of pride for the school and community.”
Ivy Prep’s first home game is Friday against KIPP Strive. The girl’s team plays at 6:15 p.m. followed by the boys’ team at 7:15 p.m. All but one of the basketball games this season will be played in the home gym. Renovations to the gym were made with the support of Cooper-Global Chauffeured Transportation and other funding.
In addition to new gym equipment, the basketball season is also beginning with new leadership in the ranks. Waller has hired seasoned coaches to oversee basketball so that he can focus on expanding the sports program at Ivy Prep. The athletic director is planning to launch competitive tennis, soccer and baseball to increase the menu of sports available for students.
“As long as we keep having great coaches, I really want to use my time supervising and working in the back office,” Waller said. “Part of being a good leader is delegating. Our coaches are on board with building the sports programs. They take their jobs very seriously.”
The new coach for Team Ivy Gwinnett Girl’s Basketball (Gwinnett Monarchs) is Warren Wade who replaces Waller as head coach. The assistant coach for the Gwinnett Monarchs is Walt Edwards. The cheerleading coach is Nichole Wysinger.
Waller said Wade is rebuilding the Monarchs with a mix of new talent after the loss of its tournament-winning starting line up. The team lost several upperclassmen who left for high school after back-to-back tournament appearances. “I expect him to come in and tear up the ground and build a new foundation,” Waller said.
Last season, the Monarchs made it to the tournament finals for the third year in a row. They were defeated in the LukeSports Girls’ Championship tournament by the Atlanta Lady Vikings, the team they had beaten the year before to win the championship 51-36. Many of the members of the tournament-winning team are now playing high school basketball on the varsity and junior varsity level.
“The program is producing young ladies and young men who want to continue playing basketball and are having success on the court,” he said. “We are taking kids to the next level.”
Waller said that their work ethic will pave the way for more Ivy Prep basketball players to follow in their footsteps. He has invited alumni of Ivy Prep’s girls and boys basketball teams to return for home games to cheer on the new players.
This year’s Monarchs are: Lauren Edwards; Mya Matthews; Raijene Murphy; Madison Doss; Elana Taylor; Kyler Woods; Londe Hall; Jade Gordon; Janet Fasesin; Karlynn Kerry; Kenia Calderon; Taylin Williams; Alex Pearson; Daijah Figgures and Jasmine Weathersby-Alexander. Atlernates are Amara Noble and Jahayla Curry-Williams.
This year’s Kirkwood Knights are: Kenneth Johnson; Titus Hand; Justin Jackson; Jovon Howard; Tywun Daniel; Syrus Kee; Noah Evans; Javion Leek; Christopher Culbreath; Franc Spears; Travarous Alexander; Cameron Florence; Mohamad Diallo and Jimari Monro.
The Knights of Ivy Prep Kirkwood are ready for another ambitious season. The young team is building on lessons learned during their first year on the court, which ended without a victory. Waller said the Knights are focused on training and expertly executing new plays designed to bring home victories for Ivy Prep.
The head coach of the Knights is Bryan Spencer. The assistant coaches are Frank Lee and Devin Emory. The cheerleading coach is Kelsea Shull. Her assistant is Kayla Eubanks.
“The young men are doing incredibly well under the leadership of Coach Spencer,” Waller said. “He has a background in coaching Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Basketball and college basketball. He is showing the young men some things that NBA players are learning. I expect them to be able to pull off a win this year, and more importantly, create a bond amongst themselves as players.”