Education continues outside of the classroom at Promise Academy

Promise Academy Spring Hill opened its doors in 2013 as a charter school under the Achievement School District with 125 students in PreK through 1st grade. Three years later, the school’s enrollment boasts approximately 300 students. But more than a numbers game, these students are thriving. Currently the school has students ranging from PreK through 3rd grade, with plans to add another grade for the next two years to become a PreK through 5th grade elementary school.
 
A typical school day for students at Promise Academy Spring Hill begins at 7:30 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m. The charter school environment has brought different teaching techniques, increased structure to the classrooms and a rigorous core knowledge language arts program (CKLA). Students are excelling academically with special programs, including TAPS for academically gifted students (much like its CLUE equivalent in Shelby County Schools). The school has seen increased family involvement as students become more invested in their own education.
 
Another initiative has been launched recently that is intended to support both the students and their families. On Sept. 26, Promise Academy Spring Hill launched a program in conjunction with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis (BGCM). As a public school, State, Local and Federal funds pay for the academic programs, while donations pay for after school care and other programs outside of the classroom.
 
“Our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis is meant to add another dimension to the lives of our students through after school programming,” said Patrick Washington, principal of Promise Academy Spring Hill. “This partnership further galvanized the relationship between Promise Academy and our parents, with the mission to put every child on the path to college.”
 
Washington said that prior to the partnership with BGCM, there had been no after school care at Promise Academy Spring Hill — and parents with time constraints due to work hours had been clamoring for it.
 
“Although after school care provides a safe place for children when classes are over, it also gives us an opportunity to enrich lives,” said Tom Beazley, executive director of Promise Academy. “Exposure to dance, art, music, as well as sports, helps build a foundation for a well-rounded child. It’s a chance to unlock their other interests and talents.”
 
“Ultimately, our after school programming meets the needs of our parents,” added Washington. “But it also helps kids develop socially and provides academic support through homework assistance. Additionally, there’s a technology component to enhance students’ reading and math skills, and a physical component that emphasizes health and physical wellbeing.”
 
Keith Blanchard, executive director of BGCM, said that the partnership with Promise Academy Spring Hill benefits his staff as well.
 
“The path to this partnership started months ago,” said Blanchard. “They told us what they were looking for — after school care and summer programming. Through common supporters, including Tom Beazley, they were familiar with the type of programming we offer. And simultaneously, BGCM had just completed a strategic plan, which included an emphasis of our efforts in the Raleigh-Frayser area. Their need fit perfectly into that plan.”
 
Through this partnership, BGCM is providing the human capital, educators and school-related administrators, necessary to run the after school programming. Now both partners are in a trial period, but Blanchard is confident that everyone is “on the same page” and funding has been secured through this school year. Only weeks into the program, which has an initial cap of 60 students, demand is exceeding supply with over 80 families interested in participating. A waiting list has been started with expectations of growing the program over time.
 
“We are pleased to be able to work with the teachers at Promise Academy Spring Hill in order to support what their students are learning in school,” said Blanchard. “And we share common goals of strengthening academics, character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles in young students.”

Read more articles by Emily Adams Keplinger.

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