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Young Men’s Leadership Academy News

IPA Kirkwood Promotion Ceremonies To Be Held Monday

IPA Kirkwood Promotion Ceremonies To Be Held Monday



Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood will hold promotion ceremonies on Monday to celebrate the academic achievement and growth of kindergartners, fifth, and eighth graders.

Combined ceremonies will be held for scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy. Scholars can invite up to four guests to the ceremonies.

Kindergarten Ceremony

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell will be guest speaker for the kindergarten ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 16. YMLA scholars should wear a black-collared shirt and black slacks. Kindergarten girls should wear dresses.

Mitchell, a graduate of Morehouse College, is an attorney who works in global real estate and finance at the international firm DLA Piper. He served on the Atlanta City Council for eight years before being elected as president of the council.

Fifth Grade Ceremony

Tolton Pace, Chairman of the Ivy Preparatory Academy Board of Trustees, will be guest speaker for the fifth grade promotion ceremony at 11 a.m. YMLA scholars should wear a white shirt, black slacks, and a gold tie to the event. Girls should wear a white dress and white shoes.

Pace, a youth pastor, has worked for several nonprofits that focus on helping students achieve their college dreams. He is a former college scholarship coordinator with Project GRAD at Atlanta Public Schools. He currently works as a staff associate for the Washington High School Cluster, and a College and Latino Ministry Coordinator for Young Life, a nonprofit youth support services network.

Eighth Grade Ceremony

Alisha Morgan, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, will be guest speaker for the eighth grade promotion ceremony at 6 p.m. YMLA scholars should wear a white shirt, a gold tie, black slacks, and an Ivy blazer. Girls should wear a white dress and white shoes.

Morgan, a national leader in education reform, is a former state legislator who co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment expanding school choice in Georgia. She was elected to the State Legislature at age 23, and was the first African American to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives. In 2012, Morgan co-sponsored state legislation that allowed an alternate state authorizer to open charter schools denied by reluctant local school districts. Morgan was also appointed by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to serve on a committee that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a federal guideline to increase school accountability for student achievement.

Morgan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Drama from Spelman College and is a earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Kennesaw State University. She is an entrepreneur, a nationally sought after motivational speaker, and a graduate of the prestigious Broad Superintendent’s Academy, an 18-month program that prepares executives to lead and transform urban schools districts.

Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood Scholars Explore Careers

Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood Scholars Explore Careers



Scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood discussed career options during Career Day talks held this week. Guest speakers included law enforcement professionals, business leaders, and more. Visit Ivy Preparatory Academy’s Facebook this week for a photo gallery.

YMLA Scholars Featured In STEAM Education Video

Scholars from Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy are featured in a new video promoting the integration of math, science, engineering, art, and technology into the classroom. YMLA is a regular stop for the metro Atlanta STE(A)M Truck, a traveling classroom that takes the intimidation out of advanced science and math.

The STE(A)M- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics- Truck challenges students to apply their math and science skills to solve problems and complete hands-on projects. Students learn engineering and construction techniques, computer coding, and more as they build simple machines and make computer games. The program also exposes students to careers in math and science.

The YMLA students featured in the video created projects to demonstrate their understanding of renewable energy.


Ivy Prep Kirkwood Scholars Participate In “Read Across America”

Ivy Prep Kirkwood Scholars Participate In “Read Across America”


Elementary school scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy joined a national literacy effort to show their love for reading. Scholars donned Dr. Seuss hats, read some of their favorite books, and ate green eggs and ham in observance of “National Read Across America Day.”

The annual celebration, organized by the National Education Association, honors the birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Festivities held across the country celebrated the author’s successful career and his influence on helping young learners develop early literacy skills.

Scholars in Ayana Hendrick’s first grade class held a birthday party for Dr. Seuss complete with decorations on the walls and classroom door. They read several books including “Wacky Wednesday.”

Scholar Sara Benson said she loved Dr. Seuss’ books. “My favorite is ‘The Cat in the Hat,’ ” she said.

“He’s really funny,” Amber Rucker, Benson’s classmate, added.

At YMLA, scholars in Ursela Hardy-Gorman’s dedicated two days to the author. On Tuesday, they made tall hats like the cat in “The Cat in the Hat.” On Wednesday, they read Dr. Seuss books and watched a movie inspired by his work.

Chase Yun said he’s read several books by the author. “My favorite is ‘Green Eggs and Ham.’ ”

Demary Hayes said he is a Dr. Seuss fan, too. “His books are fun to read,” Hayes said. “We have all the books by Dr. Seuss. They are awesome!”



IPA Black History Month Performance Scored Big With Audience

IPA Black History Month Performance Scored Big With Audience


Music teacher Ian J. Knighton, a former reality TV show semi-finalist, and 200 scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood received thunderous applause for their  Black History Month choral performance recently.

The African-American Cultural Event featured African dance numbers, a hip-hop routine, drumming, poetry, and music performed by scholars, teachers, and special guests. More than 170 parents and community members came to the show to see students from Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Ivy Preparatory Kirkwood School for Girls take center stage.

Knighton is an award-winning singer and veteran music teacher. He became a television reality star in 2009 when he landed a spot on BET’s “Sunday Best” music competition. He was also chosen by judges in Sacramento, Calif. to be a contestant on the debut of “The X Factor” on the Fox television network.”

For more on Ivy Chorale, visit Ivy Prep’s Facebook account for photos of the performance and view this local news story:

IPA Students, Staff Honor School Choice Week

IPA Students, Staff Honor School Choice Week


Ivy Preparatory Academy administrators, teachers, and scholars observed National School Choice Week recently by participating in local events. The national focus on school choice highlighted the increasing educational options for students across the country.
Ms. Alisha T. Morgan, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, returned to the State Capitol during School Choice Week to lead a panel discussion at the Educate GA Summit. The conference, hosted by Rep. Valencia Stovall, featured workshops on education funding; increasing parent engagement; improving student achievement; and expanding the use of technology in the classroom.
Morgan’s panel discussion was held at the summit’s “State of Education Luncheon.” Panelists discussed strategies being used to narrow the achievement gap between students and to reduce the remediation rates for Georgia high school graduates who enter college behind their peers academically. Morgan served as moderator for the session. Her panelists included Marc Sternberg, K-12 Education Program Director for the Walton Family Foundation; Patricia Levesque, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Excellence In Education; and Louis Erste, Associate Superintendent for Policy, Charter Schools, District Flexibility, and Governmental Affairs for the Georgia Department of Education.
Gov. Nathan Deal and Richard Woods, Georgia Schools’ Superintendent, also spoke at the luncheon.
“It’s an honor and great opportunity to impact the education of our scholars at the school level as well as the state and federal policy level,” Morgan said. “To be on the same stage as our Governor, Speaker of the House, State Superintendent, and national leaders in education places Ivy at the forefront in the minds of key leaders in our state. We are grateful for those relationships and look forward to leveraging them to benefit our scholars.”
More than 150 people attended the luncheon including community leaders, lawmakers, philanthropists, educators, and students. Ivy Prep’s founder Nina Gilbert, a national education consultant, also was among the attendees.
In other School Choice Week news, more than 100 Ivy Prep Kirkwood scholars showed their school pride at the annual School Choice Rally celebrating educational options available to Georgia students. The rally was held at Liberty Plaza in the shadow of the State Capitol building. Fifth graders from Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls represented their schools at the event.
Nearly 1,000 people braved the cold to attend the rally. The event, sponsored by the Georgia Center for Opportunity, empowers parents to pick the schools that meet their children’s needs.
“Being able to pick your school is important,” said Jaiden Harold,  fifth grader at YMLA. “You have to shop around just like you do when you buy shoes or a car.”
The school choice rally featured appearances by celebrity guests. Actor and rap mogul, Ludacris, and actress and director, Keisha Knight-Pulliam, who gained fame for her role as “Rudy” on “The Cosby Show,” addressed the crowd of cheering students.
“All children should be able to access a great school,” Ludacris said.
After the talk, students danced to show pride for their charter schools, cyber academies, and private schools. Teachers also joined the fun.
Alana Gilbert, a fifth grader at Kirkwood School for Girls said she had a blast at the rally. “We got to see famous people for free!”
Jaden McKinney, a fifth grader at YMLA, said it was “awesome” to see Ludacris. “I like all of his songs.”
Jaylen Crumpstepp said that School Choice Week reminded him why he chose YMLA. “It’s a great place to learn about science, get good grades, and get prepared to get your college degree.”
Veronica Brackett, a fifth grader agreed. “Ivy Prep is helping me to learn about careers and colleges,” she said. “What I am doing now will help me to get into Spelman.”



YMLA To Hold Parent Meetings On State Charter Renewal Application Process

Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy has begun the process of applying for a state charter renewal to continue serving students.

Parent information sessions on the renewal process will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, and at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in the Kirkwood school cafeteria at 1807 Memorial Drive SE Atlanta.

YMLA’s state charter expires at the end of the 2015-16 school year. The single-gender charter school has been educating boys in DeKalb County since it opened in August 2011.

YMLA administrators applied to the state commission in December for a charter renewal. The state commission has begun to review the application and analyze performance data posted by the school for the past two years. A decision on the renewal application is expected by early March.

Ivy Prep school officials told the state commission last week that YMLA has launched an aggressive plan to turn around student achievement that includes the hiring of a new administrative team and the overhaul of school operations. YMLA was placed on a state list of struggling schools in 2015 after standardized test scores fell below state benchmarks for student achievement.

Alisha T. Morgan, Ivy Prep’s new executive director, told state commission members and their staff that administrators responsible for academic instruction during the period of declines have left the charter school network.

“We have experienced a transformation this school year,” she said. “We believe in continuous improvement, not only at YMLA but across the network. We are focused on academic accountability and high quality teaching and learning. Our teachers are receiving a high level of support in the classroom.”

Improvements have been made to the curriculum to help catch up students struggling below grade level in reading and math. YMLA received a three-year Reading Mentor Program grant from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement that pairs state reading coaches with classrooms to improve the development of language and literacy skills.

Among other changes, teachers now have common planning time and more professional development. For the first time, the school is using MAP assessment tools every six to eight weeks to collect achievement data on students to monitor individual achievement and drive instruction.

Morgan said YMLA needs more time with students to continue the work of turning around the school.

“We appreciate the support of the commission,” she said. “They have truly been our partners along the way. We hope that they see that the changes we have made will have a positive impact on our scholars.”

Charter Renewal Process FAQs

Why do we have to go through a charter renewal process? YMLA operates under the authority of a state charter granted by the State Charter Schools Commission. The state charter was awarded for a two-year time period. We are nearing the end of that two-year time period and must appeal to the state to renew or extend our charter so that we can continue to operate in the 2016-17 school year. YMLA’s state charter contract gives it flexibility to get creative to improve student achievement. That flexibility includes the waiver of several state mandates on education that are placed on traditional schools. Those waivers allow YMLA to operate as a single-gender school with extended school hours and an extended calendar year.

How does the State Charter Schools Commission make its renewal decision? YMLA is contractually bound to produce results in student achievement that out-perform neighborhood schools on state standardized tests. Commission members and their support staff will review YMLA’s student performance data, parent satisfaction surveys, audit reports, operations protocol, and charter goals set forth in its current state contract. Next, state commission staff will analyze our student achievement data and compare those results to our charter goals. Commission staff will then make a formal recommendation to the State Charter Schools Commission to renew or reject YMLA’s charter application.

What data will the State Charter Schools Commission consider in its decision on the renewal? Commission members and their staff will analyze student performance data from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. The data from the current school year is not yet available and will not be considered in the review.

When will we know the outcome of the state commission’s decision? The State Charter Schools Commission is expected to vote on YMLA’s charter renewal in early March. Charter schools typically receive a five-year renewal. Abbreviated renewal terms are also granted on a probationary basis.

What will happen to students if the charter application is rejected? School administrators and counselors will work with families to develop a transition plan to return scholars back to their neighborhood schools or to pursue other school options if YMLA’s charter application is rejected.

How can I support YMLA’s effort to be renewed? Share your scholar’s academic improvement story with commission members by emailing Bonnie Holliday, executive director of the State Charter Schools Commission, at

Young Men’s Leadership Academy Parent Center

Summer Reading Lists and Logs for All Grades

Greetings, Ivy Parents! Please see below for the reading lists and reading logs for all schools and all grades. K-2 Reading Log (Kirkwood) 3-5 Reading Log (Kirkwood) 6-8 Reading List (Gwinnett) 6-8 Reading List (Kirkwood for Girls) 6-8 Reading List (YMLA) High School...

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