WILMINGTON — The board of directors of GLOW NC, the nonprofit foundation that supports girls’ charter school, GLOW Academy, is making changes to expand its reach.
Known as “Beacon Education,” the name change comes with an expanded mission to provide earlier and more equitable access to high-quality education, CEO Todd Godbey announced Friday.
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Beacon Education plans to open four or five coeducational, mixed-income early childhood education centers over the next three years, with the first to open in July 2023. The foundation also aims to open a coeducational primary school, and through a middle school and a high school for boys, in the next four years.
“Our board has spent a few years looking at data and community needs to determine how to have the greatest impact in our community,” said Godbey, who also serves on the advisory board for North Carolina Charter School. “With GLOW teachers and community leaders, it has become clear that we need to start earlier to address the inequities in education that cause the gaps in opportunity and achievement.”
Data from Smart Start New Hanover County indicates a critical shortage of high-quality early childhood programs, according to the release.
“We’ve lost about 10 percent of child care slots in our county’s child care programs,” said Jane Morrow, executive director of New Hanover County Smart Start. “Programs are facing a shortage of skilled staff, which has a huge impact on families who rely on quality care to return to work and on children who rely on quality care for supportive relationships, the development of basic skills and a safe and stimulating environment. ”
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Early childhood education schools will offer programs for children aged six weeks through pre-kindergarten. The mixed-income coeducational program will provide sliding-scale scholarships to families in need.
Each center will house about 150 students, according to Beacon Education, with the first location to be announced later this summer. Plans also include an on-site community healthcare clinic and frequent weekend community farmers’ markets.
Beacon Education says it will offer programming similar to GLOW Academy’s focus on college and career readiness at its all-boys middle and high schools. This includes a strong college-linked program, academic outreach and alumni support, as well as a workforce development program with internships and corporate/corporate partnerships.
It also plans to upgrade its GLOW Academy to include a community healthcare clinic, staffed weekly by a physician assistant and a full-time mental health professional. GLOW already employs a full-time nurse.
GLOW Academy’s first class of students are preparing for high school graduation in 2023. The all-female student body began their educational career at the academy in 2016 as the first class of sixth graders. The middle and high school is one of 21 single-sex schools nationwide that follow an educational model developed for girls from predominantly underserved communities – often the first in their families to attend college.
According to a press release, on average, GLOW students start sixth grade more than three years behind their grade level. Beacon Education also cites a 2018 ProPublica study using data from the U.S. Department of Education that found black students in New Hanover County were academically three years behind white students, an achievement gap it notes reflects throughout the state.
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