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Blue-Green Academy receives charter school approval

Daye Brake, left, and Deena Artis-DeShazor, founders of the Blue-Green Academy, proudly sport Academy T-shirts at the meet and greet on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Blue-Green Academy receives charter school approval
November 29
01:00 2018

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Two local educators have taken their dream for a charter school to fruition, receiving approval from the State Department of Education to open the Blue-Green Academy in 2019.

Deena Artis-DeShazor and Daye Brake both taught at Mineral Springs Middle School. After crafting innovative ways to teach their students, they decided if they could achieve success with these innovations, they could start a school.

In 2015 they started researching how to start a charter school. Artis-De-Shazor said, “We (Brake) and I gelled so well together from the start; Daye and I are kindred spirits.”

Brake said that the original plan was to open a girls’ academy, but the more they talked about it, the more they saw a need to include boys. They decided to begin with fifth and sixth grades, since that was the grade levels they had taught, and then add a grade every year until reaching the high school level. Middle school grades are developmental years for students and their research showed that most successful charter schools started at fifth grade.

They agreed on the importance of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), as well as leadership, entrepreneurship, and cultural awareness courses for students. Male and female students will be taught separately. Artis-DeShazor is the principal of Blue Academy (Boys Learning Under Excellence) for boys and Brake is the principal of Green (Girls Receiving Every Education Need) Academy for girls. They are seeking a male dean for Blue Academy to provide a male perspective and mentor. The mission is “to empower all stakeholders to become agents for change in the school, community and world, through literacy, inquiry, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship and engagement.” 

Artis-DeShazor admitted, “I didn’t know how daunting the process would be.” They knew they would need a strong board and held an interest meeting for potential board members. They invited 15 people they had determined had the skills they would need to guide the process, shared their vision over lunch, and asked them to join them on their journey. A list of their board members is on their website at www.bluegreenacademy.org.

In 2016 they started the application process and submitted the 30-page document in September 2017. They attended a clarification process with the Charter School Advisory Board that asked questions and recommended changes to the application. The next step was the interview, which approved them to begin the Ready-to-Open process.

The N.C. Accelerator Program provided the funding for them to be in Leaders Building Leaders, a resource and mentoring group for charter schools. They also attend monthly meetings of the Department of Education of Public Instructionn in Raleigh that provides guidance to charter schools.

The women have learned a lot through this years-long challenge. Brake said, “I have learned that I am stronger than I ever though I could be.” She said it has been an eye-opening experience for her that has shown her the impact she can have in the community.

Brake said that they are getting close to selecting the location of the school. There are three options under consideration: Cornerstone Faith Ministry, St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church and the Great Commission Community Church.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, they held a meet and greet at Tart Sweets Bakery on Fifth Street to introduce the school to parents of potential students, as well as school supporters and partners. Corey McCann, who is with Rally Up Winston-Salem, a group combating senseless gun violence, stopped by to offer his support and said, “I am building a partnership with Blue-Green because we have the same goals of empowering the inner-city community.”

Latoya Shoffner also stopped by to learn more about the academy. She said, “My child is just in first grade, but has a strong passion for math and science and I’m looking ahead.”

Open enrollment for Blue-Green Academy begins in December and Artis-De-Shazor and Brake will be out in the community visiting churches and recreation centers to meet parents of potential students with a goal to open with 200 students.

For more information, visit www.bluegreenacademy.org , Facebook at bluegreenacademy, or email info@nullbluegreenacademy.org.

                 

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