New school centers on diversity

New school centers on diversity
A new school in downtown Charleston is putting diversity at the forefront. (Source: Compass Collegiate Academy)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As school districts in Berkeley and Charleston Counties continue to deal with the fallout of racially insensitive social media posts by students and staff, a new public charter school is getting ready to open its doors with a fresh approach to education.

“Our goal is to be intentionally diverse, anti-racist school,” said Elizabeth Simpson, executive director of Compass Colligate Academy. “We believe that is work that needs to be done, not only in our country but especially in Charleston.”

CCA opens in August for kindergarten and first grade students and then will add a new grade each year until it is a full K-8 school. With an extended school day, they’ll be able to offer more than just math and science.

“We have dedicated time every day for scholars to get to know each other, engage in social-emotional learning with a specific curriculum and we start and end each day in circle,” Simpson said. The circle is. . . well. . . where everyone sits in a circle to talk. Those talks can be about the plan for the day or something in a scholar’s life.

The promise of a more rounded curriculum is what attracted the academy’s first parent – Shaniqua Christian. She says the phrase “intentionally diverse” resonated with her and her son.

“You don’t hear that down here very much, unfortunately,” Christian said. “It’s a good opportunity. I don’t mind him being in a mixed cultural classroom at all. I just don’t want him to be the minority or majority of any classrooms. I want him to be well rounded.”

The school will have just 75 students next year with 11-12 staff members and two teachers in each class. Christian says that kind of focused attention, along with the school mission, is critical.

“You’re allowing the school to have your most prized possession really, which is your child and you want the teachers to be honest and students to be equal,” Christian said.

It’s a public school so there is no tuition and there are still seats available.

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