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Ivy Scholars Read, Perform Macbeth

Ivy Scholars Read, Perform Macbeth


English Language Arts teacher Julie Carroll – Ivy Prep’s longest serving educator – is teaching her students to appreciate the artistic genius of William Shakespeare by having them read and perform his play “Macbeth.”

Scholars from Carroll’s advanced and college prep classes are learning about the life and times of Shakespeare as they prepare for the play. They are tackling roles of the main charters in Macbeth from the “Three Witches” to “Macbeth” and his comrade.

“He has a lot of amazing plays,” sixth grader Kaylah Holton, who plays an apparition in Macbeth, said of Shakespeare. “The plays are interesting to listen to and to act out.”

Some of her classmates are taking on roles behind the scenes doing makeup for the play.  Others are taping the show for parents to view later.

“Shakespeare is one of those things you should start really early,” Carroll said. “The words don’t make any sense without the movements as well. This is one way to introduce great literature to them at an early age.”

All Ivy Scholars read Shakespeare. Sixth graders read “Macbeth.” Seventh graders take on “Hamlet.” Eighth graders devour “Othello.”

“It all prepares them to read ‘Romeo and Juliet’ when they reach ninth grade,”said Carroll, who is in her ninth year of teaching at IPA.

Macbeth is an exciting tale of political ambition and murder:

In the play, Macbeth plots to kill King Duncan after he is told by three sisters that he could be the next King of Scotland. After the assassination, the king’s two sons flee the kingdom, and Macbeth is crowned.

Macbeth has his comrade, Banquo killed. His old friend’s ghost comes to visit him at a royal banquet that evening covered in blood. The three sisters that predicted Macbeth’s rise as king console him.

Later in the play, the son of the fallen King Duncan leads an army against Macbeth with the help of a nobleman who sleighs Macbeth. Malcolm, the son of the fallen king, becomes Scotland’s next ruler

Carroll said performing Macbeth could encourage students to go to the theater to see other plays by Shakespeare.

“This is fun,” said Mykala Byrd, a sixth grader as she kneeled beside a cauldron in the classroom. “I like reading Shakespeare. I have never really done a play. In this class, I get to do what most people in other schools don’t get to do – read and do our own Shakespeare play.”


IPA Charter Schools Prepare For Bright Future

IPA Charter Schools Prepare For Bright Future


Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett could add more than 150 new students next school year as the charter school prepares to welcome its largest class of sixth graders in years.

Enrollment is projected to grow district-wide in 2017-18. Applicants for Ivy Prep Gwinnett have all been accepted for the new school year even though there was enough interest to host a separate lottery, administrators said.

Ivy Prep Superintendent Alisha T. Morgan said the record number of applications for IPA Gwinnett has caused the school to expand the enrollment for sixth grade.

“When we opened the enrollment season for the 2017-18 school year, we received nearly 1,000 applications from families who wanted their girls to become Ivy Scholars,” said Superintendent Morgan. “The historic number of applications is ringing endorsement of the work that we are doing to prepare scholars for success in school and in life.”

Interest in Georgia’s first public charter school network for girls quadrupled in 2017 following dynamic changes to the academic structure, faculty, and leadership of Ivy Prep.The curriculum at Ivy Prep Kirkwood and Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett is now linked to state and national standards of academic excellence. Classroom instruction is individualized, accelerated, and data-driven based on student performance on online assessments. And scholars, as well as teachers, attend weekly professional development sessions to improve teaching and learning and promote community service.

School leaders say the improvements resulted in a flood of applications to enroll for the 2017-18 school year. The network currently has more than 500 students.

Jacob Cole, chief of staff at Ivy Preparatory Academies, called the flood of applications “an unprecedented best for the network.”

Ivy Preparatory Academies, Georgia’s first public charter school network for girls, challenges students with a college preparatory curriculum that includes an extended school day, an extended school year, college tours, and an accelerated academic program for advanced learners. Each scholar receives an individualized success plan that includes performance data and personal goals to help them stay on track for success in high school and college.

IPA Social Studies Teacher Uses Teleconferences To Continue Scholar Learning

IPA Social Studies Teacher Uses Teleconferences To Continue Scholar Learning



In social studies classes at Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett, Ricardo Brown challenges scholars to learn after hours using technology they would use in a business environment.

Scholars continue the lessons they begin in class by calling into a teleconference line for a review of the standard and enrichment opportunities. Mr. Brown leads the lecture and provides more in-depth information about the standards he teaches. If scholars have questions, a student serving as the meeting’s “executive director” introduces them into the conversation. They must email the questions first for her review.

The “Flip Model Classroom” strategy gives scholars greater ownership of their studies, Brown said.

“The Flip Model Classroom works on the college level,” he said. “It’s a way for me to be able to push their knowledge and challenge them to be independent learners.”

As many as 25 scholars called into the conference line recently to listen to a lecture on Standard SS8H11 about civil rights leaders in Georgia. The lecture covered the life of  Martin Luther King Jr., the work of the  legendary educator Benjamin Mays, and the successes of former Gov. S. Ernest Vandiver Jr., who is credited for integrating public schools in Georgia.

“Many of the scholars have seen their parents dial into a phone conference for work,” Brown said. “Scholars get that same experience. They learn to be better note-takers and how to handle themselves on a business call. It makes them feel like adults, and it integrates technology to keep them engaged in what they learn.”



Brown has used the Flip Model Classroom method twice to help boost comprehension and test scores. He has seen double digit gains as high as 21 points for some scholars.

Scholar Maya Woodfork said she enjoys the method. Scholars are tested on the material they learn over the phone when they return to class for a review session.

“It helps you understand what you should be studying at home before a test,” Woodfork said.

Ivy Scholar Makayla Donald agrees. The strategy makes her feel like a college student in a virtual class. “It gives you good listening and communication skills. And it helps you to get to know your classmates a lot better.”




Science Teacher Leads Class On Anatomy Adventure

Science Teacher Leads Class On Anatomy Adventure




Seventh graders in Robert Clutter’s science classes dissected frogs recently to study how similar the amphibian’s anatomy is to human anatomy.

Each scholar received a frog and a set of tools to use on their scientific exploration. The lesson challenged them to locate and observe organ systems within their frogs and to measure some of the organs that they found.

Some scholars anxiously examined the chest cavity of their frogs to learn more about how they existed. Others squealed as they stared down at the slimy amphibians and reluctantly cut away thin layers of tissue to reveal vital organs.

“Frogs basically have the same structure as humans,” Clutter explained. “They have an esophagus, a heart, reproductive organs, and small and large intestines. The muscle structure in the leg is the same. You can see fibrous tissues in the legs just like human muscle is fibrous.”

Clutter guided his scholars through the anatomy of a frog like a tour guide at a museum. He told them where the heart and liver were located and the stomachs. The scholars then measured the sack that contained the intestines. “We have the same peritoneum in our small intestines,” he said. “It holds everything together.’’

“This is awesome,” said Ivy Scholar Erin Harrison-Sobakin. She has dissected a frog once before. “You get to use a scalpel to cut something open and see things you don’t ordinarily get to see.”

Clutter said the exercise gives scholars a chance to see what a frog’s organ system looks like and have a deeper understanding of human anatomy. Later this school year, students will dissect fetal pigs to continue their adventure in science.

“They share about 95 percent of the same organs as humans,” Clutter said of the pigs. “That is why we can use a pig heart in a transplant because they match most of the time.”

Ivy Scholar Kamyah Wright was pleasantly surprised by the lesson. “I didn’t think I as going to like it, but it’s alright,” she said. “I am learning the different parts of the frog. It’s really interesting.”

Ivy Scholar Sumayah Mohamed says dissecting a frog makes her even more interested in a career as a surgeon. “The body has so many different things to learn about,” she said. “This is fun.”

Ivy Scholar Places Wins Second Place In Gwinnett County Schools Art Competition

Ivy Scholar Places Wins Second Place In Gwinnett County Schools Art Competition

IPA Gwinnett sixth grader Ami Dodd-Mungin won second place in visual arts at the Reflections Arts Competition last month sponsored by the PTSA of Gwinnett County Schools, the state’s largest school system serving nearly 180,000 students.

Dodd-Mungin’s entry “Healing,” a self-portrait and reflection on her life since the loss of her father in 2014, received an “Honorable Mention” ribbon for a second-place finish in the visual arts drawing category.

The sixth grader was the first IPA scholar chosen to represent her school at the district level Reflections competition. She advanced to the district competition after winning first place in the visual arts and photography categories at Ivy Preparatory Academy’s Reflections Art competition in October.

“It’s really exciting,” said Dodd-Mungin. “It’s a huge accomplishment for me. It just shows me what I’m capable of. I am very happy that other people liked my art enough to give me a ribbon. Next year, I hope to advance to the state level.”

Dodd-Mungin’s self-portrait and photo entries were displayed in a Reflections Arts Competition exhibit at Duluth High School with other submissions from across the county. A representative from the PTSA at Ivy Prepratory Academies was among those in attendance.

The winners of the district level competition were chosen by a panel of independent judges from the arts community.


IPA Gwinnett Scholars Enjoy State Beta Club  Convention

IPA Gwinnett Scholars Enjoy State Beta Club Convention



Nearly 30 scholars represented Ivy Preparatory Academies at the annual Georgia Junior Beta Club Convention in Macon recently.

Ivy Scholar and Georgia Junior Beta Club State President  Selina Vazquez-Mendoza presided over the state convention, which attracted 8,000 people to the Macon Marriott City Convention Center on Nov. 17 and 18. Vazquez-Mendoza gave speeches, introduced special guests, presented awards, and participated in meetings. Her picture was featured on the convention website and program. The Ivy Scholar was the first public charter school student to be elected as state president of Georgia’s Beta Club. Her year- long term ends with the selection of the new president.

“Selina did an outstanding job leading the Beta Club Convention,” said Mr. Chaz Patterson, principal of IPA Gwinnett. “This was a great experience for her and an historic occasion for Ivy Prep to have an Ivy Scholar prominently featured as the president of a state organization. I am proud of her and the efforts of all of our scholars who participated in events at the convention. ”

Autumn Smart, a Beta Club member since elementary school, cheered for Vazquez-Mendoza as she performed official duties of the president. “Selina did a great job,” the seventh-grader said. “The convention was really fun.”

IPA Gwinnett had seven scholars to attend the 34th annual state convention “Beta Above And Beyond.” IPA Kirkwood, which recently inducted its first Beta Club members, brought about 20 people to the convention. The Ivy Scholars  competed in some of the academic-and-arts- themed events at the conference.

Eighth grader Joycelyn Lieu, a newcomer to the Beta Club Convention,  participated in the visual arts design challenge. She drew a picture of a tiger using vibrant colors. “It was really exciting,” she said of the conference. “I was able to meet a lot of new people and make friends with students from across the state.”

Her classmate, Makalya  Donald, also a newcomer to the Beta Club Convention, enjoyed watching schools compete in the arts and academic challenges.  “I liked to see what other schools did and hear about their creative process,” she said.

IPA’s Beta Club is a local chapter of National Junior Beta Club, the country’s largest independent nonprofit youth organization. IPA Beta Clubs promote scholarship, leadership, good character, and community service. IPA Gwinnett scholars in grades 6-8 who have stellar behavior and a grade point average of at least a 3.5 are recommended by teachers to be considered for membership in the prestigious organization.

Ivy Scholars have a legacy of achievement within Beta Club. In addition to Vazquez-Mendoza’s state presidency, IPA Gwinnett’s Beta Club also placed second at the state level in 2014 and placed fourth at nationals in 2015 playing a Jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl game that tested their mastery of math, literature, social studies, and science.

Seventh grader Sydnee Jefferson plans to continue the legacy of excellence. She ran for Beta Club state president. Her fellow club members joined her on stage for a dance performance supporting her candidacy. Jefferson said her time at Ivy Prep prepared her to stand before a crowd of 8,000 with confidence.

“I had to say my speech and answer questions,” she said. “It was a good experience.  I will run again.”


Scholars Enjoy Professional Development Wednesdays

Scholars Enjoy Professional Development Wednesdays



Ivy Preparatory Academies has launched a new program this school year that is providing weekly professional development sessions for teachers – and scholars.


The initiative, “Professional Development Wednesdays” is designed to help scholars grow in their intellectual and social development as young ladies, youth leaders, and future college graduates. The professional development sessions bring outside community partners to Ivy Prep to lead sessions on etiquette, public speaking, college planning, organization, and more.


Scholars in grades 6-8 rotate through the training sessions weekly while teachers meet for professional development elsewhere in the school.


“Professionalism is one of the core values that we teach at Ivy Prep Academy,” said Chaz Patterson, principal of Ivy Prep Gwinnett. “We want our scholars to represent themselves and Ivy Prep well in the community. The professional development sessions allow our scholars to spend time with experts who can help them to gain a competitive edge as they apply for internships, summer jobs, and academic enrichment programs.”


Patterson said he is seeking volunteers in the community to lead training sessions during the school year.


At least one training session each month focuses on the college enrollment process. The coaching helps scholars to become more familiar with fields of study, financial aid, and academic requirements.


Scholars recently began a college research project that challenges them to read college brochures from universities across the country and track their progress on a map. The session is led by Maggie Paynich, founder of Education Inspires, a college exploration program for middle school students.


“We are going to look at 50 colleges each, and we are going to aim for 25 different states,” Paynich told scholars at a recent session. “We are going to keep track of that so that you know where colleges are in the country.”


Scholars said the focus on higher education and self-improvement is helping them to think more seriously about the future.


“I am interested in going to Howard University or UCLA,” said Nia Spillers-Taylor, an eighth grader. “This is opening my eyes to what colleges really accept, and what they don’t like. It will help me to be more responsible.”





IPA Gwinnett Launches Drive To Fight Cancer

IPA Gwinnett Launches Drive To Fight Cancer



Scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett have begun their first community service project of the school year. They are collecting contributions for the “Pennies for Patients” campaign sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The drive will raise money to help fight the leading childhood cancer, leukemia, a cancer of the blood-forming cells in bone marrow. The drive also will help to fight lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system damaging white blood cells. September is “Blood Cancer Awareness Month.”

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

  • An estimated 171,550 people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma in 2016. They will account for 10 percent of the cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S.
  • There are an estimated 345,422 people living with leukemia in the US.
  • Between 2008 and 2012, leukemia was the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths among women.


Funds raised through the “Pennies for Patients” campaign support cancer research and patient care for those who suffer from leukemia and lymphoma.

“At Ivy Prep, we teach scholars the importance of community service,” said Chaz Patterson, IPA Gwinnett principal. “We believe it is our duty to help others. We will participate in a community service project every month. It is a requirement for all scholars.”

IPA service projects are designed to help scholars learn about issues impacting women and families across the world. Prizes will be awarded to the scholar who raises the most money in the drive. Prizes also will be awarded to the houses – an assigned grouping of students across grades- that raise the most money.

“Scholars will be collecting pennies, nickels, and dollars for a good cause, so dig deep into your wallets,” Patterson said.

Since the “Pennies for Patients” campaign was launched in 1994, millions of dollars have been raised in pennies and other spare change by more than 10 million elementary, middle, and high school students throughout the country. The funds are collected over a three-week period.

Next month, IPA Gwinnett scholars will sponsor a drive to fight breast cancer.

For more information on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit


IPA Gwinnett Seeks High Achievers To Join Beta Club

IPA Gwinnett Seeks High Achievers To Join Beta Club



Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett is seeking  high-achieving scholars to join the Beta Club, an elite organization that exposes straight-A students to leadership training and college scholarships.

The Ivy Prep Academy Beta Club promotes scholarship, leadership, good character, and community service. Ivy scholars in grades 6-8 who have stellar behavior and a grade point average of at least a 3.5 are recommended by teachers to be considered for membership in the prestigious organization.

“Beta Club is important because it teaches girls to be articulate, to speak in front of groups, and to  advocate for themselves, especially when they are applying for things like internships and scholarships,” said Beta Club sponsor and English Language Arts teacher, Julie Carroll. The ELA teacher was a Beta Club member as a middle and high school student.

IPA Beta Club members in grades 7-8 travel to an annual state leadership conference each year that features motivational speakers and club competitions. Students attend seminars and compete in events that showcase their academic and artistic talents.

IPA’s Beta Club is a local chapter of National Beta Club, the country’s largest independent nonprofit youth organization. National Beta Club has been serving scholars for more than 80 years. It has more than 350,000 members nationwide.

Gwinnett’s Beta Club chapter made state education history twice. Last November, IPA Gwinnett scholar Selina Vazquez-Mendoza became the first public charter school student to be elected as state president of Georgia’s Beta Club. Her term ends in December. She will serve as a leader at the state conference.

“Over the summer, I went to leadership camp and we did a lot of activities,” she said. “It was really fun. I met a lot of people from other schools through this experience. It has given me a broader view of Beta Club. I am considering running for office in the organization when I get to high school.”

Gwinnett’s Beta Club also was the first club from a single-gender public charter school to win as a top contender in the Quiz Bowl at the state conference level. The team placed fourth at nationals in 2015 playing a Jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl game that tested their mastery of math, literature, social studies, and science.

This school year, Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood will also have a Beta Club chapter. Kirkwood’s Beta Club will be open to scholars in grades 3-8. “We will have a friendly rivalry with Gwinnett,” said Dr. LaShunda Hawkins, sponsor of irkwood’s Beta Club. “We have a lot of work to do.”

The officers for Gwinnett’s Beta Club are: Selina Vazquez-Mendoza, who is president; Kayla Slack, who is vice president; and Natalie Vega, secretary.

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