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Gwinnett for Girls News

Ivy Prep Academy Doubles the Size of Its Attendance Zone

ATLANTA – Ivy Preparatory Academies has received state approval to double the size of its attendance zone opening the door to thousands of new students from Fulton County and the City of Atlanta.

The petition to expand Ivy Prep’s school boundaries was unanimously approved recently by the State Charter Schools Commission. The expansion is in response to metro Atlanta parent interest in the single-gender school network’s academic program.

“This is very significant because we have a great deal of interest from students and parents who live outside of our current attendance zone,” said Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of IPA. “We wanted to be able to serve families who are unhappy with their home schools by offering them school choice.”

IPA operates three free single-gender public charter schools: Ivy Prep Gwinnett, its flagship school for girls, Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls, and Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy (IPYMLA), both in DeKalb County.

Under IPA’s new boundaries, students who attend or are eligible to attend Fulton County Schools and DeKalb County Schools can now enroll at Ivy Prep Gwinnett, which is located at 3705 Engineering Drive in Peachtree Corners. Students who attend or are eligible to attend Atlanta Public Schools can enroll in IPA Kirkwood School for Girls or IPYMLA, which is located at 1807 Memorial Drive in Atlanta.

The new attendance zone restores some of the footprint IPA originally had when its high-performing Gwinnett campus opened in 2008. IPA Gwinnett lost its statewide attendance zone following a Georgia Supreme Court case filed by metro Atlanta school districts who challenged Ivy Prep’s ability to exist and attract students and education dollars from across county lines.

School administrators advise parents who are considering IPA for 2015-16 to act fast. “Seats are filling up quickly,” Wiley said.

IPA Kirkwood, which is near the border of APS, can accommodate 460 students at each single-gender school. The campus is currently going through an expansion. Earlier this school year, the IPA School for Girls received a $14 million bond issue to purchase the strip mall it and the boy’s school is housed in and build-out new classroom space.

IPA Gwinnett administrators estimate an enrollment of 400 students in the fall. Wiley said the school can accommodate 500 if additional teachers are hired.

In 2012, IPA Gwinnett was the only public middle school in Gwinnett County to be named as a “rewards school” by the state Department of Education for high standardized test performance among low income students. IPA Gwinnett has a record of out-performing state and local district averages in several areas on state exams. IPA Kirkwood’s School for Girls has experienced similar success. The academic program at IPYMLA has helped students to improve their behavior and close gaps in learning.

IPA schools have extended days, an extended year, and a challenging college preparatory curriculum.

“We would like to thank the commission for allowing us to offer more school choice to parents in Georgia,” Wiley said. “This gives us an opportunity to expose more students to the Ivy Prep brand as well as to college.”

New Attendance Zones!

The leadership of Ivy Preparatory Academy is thrilled to announce that the Georgia State Charter Schools Commission has approved our request to expand our attendance zones at each campus.

Families eligible for Fulton County Schools and DeKalb County Schools may now enroll at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett. Families in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) district may now enroll at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood for Girls and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy. Scholars who enroll now will be eligible to start at Ivy Prep in the 2015-2016 school year.

Ivy Prep petitioned the commission in early 2015 after receiving over 300 signatures requesting Ivy Preparatory Academy as a school choice option in Fulton County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools districts. Ivy Prep believes having access to a high-quality, free education is a right, not a privilege. By expanding our attendance zone, more families now have access to an excellent school of choice. Additionally, increased enrollment means more programs, resources, and activities for the whole Ivy Prep family–both current families and newly-enrolled families.

Do you know families in our new attendance zones? Help us spread the word by sharing this message with your network and social media. Don’t wait to share the news, as seats are going fast for 2015-2016.

If you’re ready to enroll (or know families who are), head to:

Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett (Girls’ Academy)
3705 Engineering Drive. Peachtree Corners, Georgia 30092
Now serving families in Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Fulton counties

Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood (Boys’ and Girls’ Academies)
1807 Memorial Drive. Atlanta, Georgia 30317
Now serving families eligible for DeKalb County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools

Ivy Prep Network Schools To Host Job Fair On March 21

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

Chiefs’ Franchise Player Justin Houston Tells Ivy Prep Girls To ‘Dream Big’

Justin Houston Oakland Raiders v Kansas City       UX_xq39chlHlJustin 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.”20150223_111559_resized

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.”

Natural Health Seminar

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 and let us know how many guests will be with you.


Ivy Prep Leaders Return From National Tour Of Charter Schools

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. ”

Ivy Concert Master: A Conversation With “King of Strings” Ken Ford

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

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Our 100% Free Public Charter Schools Are Now Enrolling in Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Fulton Counties!

If your family is eligible for Atlanta Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Fulton County Schools, or DeKalb County Schools, you are eligible to enroll at Ivy Prep for 2015-2016! But seats are filling up quickly, so start the proces today. Click the green button below to complete a quick information request form.

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