Past Awards: 2014

"The School Awards winners provide inspiration and a roadmap for success for schools seeking transformation. We recognize the dedicated educators who show us the way." ~ Ron Walker

Jumoke Academy Charter Schools
Hartford Connecticut
Dr. Michael Sharpe, CEO

Jumoke Academy serves nearly 700 male and female students in Pre-K-8th grades who otherwise would be attending low-performing urban schools and nearly all of whom are students of color. Jumoke has built and maintained a strong school culture that promotes success of all of its “Young Kings” and “First Ladies”.  Under the leadership of CEO Dr. Michael Sharpe, Jumoke Academy Charter Schools were cited three years consecutively as being among of the top ten performing urban schools in the State of Connecticut. Jumoke’s goal is simple: To make every child believe there is nothing he or she cannot accomplish. 

Jumoke’s approach is based on guiding principles: 1) The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum; 2) How children learn is as important as what they learn; 3) The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction; 4) There is a set of social skills children need in order to be successful; 5) Knowing the children we teach – individually, culturally, and developmentally – is as important as knowing the academic content; and 6) Knowing the families of the children we teach and working with them as partners is essential to children’s education.  In interest of keeping all of these guiding principles in place, PLC’s (professional learning communities) come together for a minimum of seven hours each week to discuss student academic achievement and social emotional support. Likely a result of hard work on the part of the school’s faculty and staff, data shows great retention of students, families and faculty from year to year as well as high levels of academic achievement and proficiency rates on state standardized testing. 

Jumoke’s curriculum and programming focuses on core academic and social skills that foster self-motivation and independent learning. One example of this is Jumoke’s Percussion Marching Unit (40 boys), which plays an important role in helping students transform, going from disengaged to honor role. Jumoke’s curriculum features regular programming focused on valuing diversity and multiculturalism, as well as weekly character education classes. 

Jumoke celebrates male students' identity and heritage through formal and informal ceremonies. Its school-wide diversity celebration explores cultural differences through curriculum and programming. Global and local male leaders frequently participate in these celebrations.  Jumoke’s blazer ceremony is designed to mimic a future valedictory service and represents a milestone in each student’s education. The blazer ceremony involves school staff, parents and community leaders and features statements by adults who are committed to the school and its students.

In addition to positive adult involvement in celebrations and ceremonies, Jumoke provides students direct access to mentorship opportunities. All male students participate in Jumoke’s mentoring initiative, which pairs students with a male adult in the community. This interaction allows male students access to positive role models, as many are without such a presence in their lives. 

The International School of Louisiana - Camp Street Campus
New Orleans, Louisiana
Melanie Tennyson, Principal

The International School of Louisiana – Camp Street (ISL) is a full language-immersion public charter school which serves 600 students grades K-8, over two-thirds of whom are students of color. In keeping with its mission to provide a challenging education emphasizing language immersion, international awareness, celebration of diversity, and community responsibility; its programs address culture, ethnicity, learning capacity, and religion, offering quality learning that transcends socio-economic boundaries.  The demographics of the student body of ISL closely match that of the New Orleans Metropolitan region; it is a diverse, multi-cultural community that is enriched by faculty and staff that hail from 22 different French, Spanish and Chinese countries.  ISL’s Camp Street leadership team includes Sean Wilson- CEO/Head of School of the ISL and Melanie Tennyson and Ghislaine Camey- Principal and Assistant Principal of the Camp Street Campus.

ISL believes that language immersion instruction is a critical component of breaking down barriers and stimulating higher levels of academic performance. Benefits of language immersion include increased mental flexibility and critical thinking ability, raised self-esteem, increased achievement, greater proficiency with other languages (including English), more natural and expressive communication, and higher cultural awareness. While the ability to learn a second language is largely separate from academic potential; studies have shown language immersion programs enhance mental development and, subsequently, academic performance. 

ISL incorporates multi-ethnic/racial/national/cultural elements in the daily routine and classroom instruction. This includes first-hand accounting of everyday life, celebrations and customs of other cultures by its diverse, international faculty, use of illustrative materials from high quality curricula of other countries, international special class projects, and participation in an end-of-year International Day featuring a parade and international music and costumes. At ISL, core values such as personal responsibility, mutual respect, and community service are instilled in students at all grade levels through instruction. These core values are reinforced through postings in hallways and classrooms and constant reinforcement during instruction and play. 

Ongoing teacher training, careful alignment of the curriculum with common core standards, enrichment activities, and a high teacher to student ration are additional factors contributing to ISL excellence. The results of ISL’s highly effective education programs is evidenced by designation as an “A” School in 2012-13 by the State (top status based on student achievement on annual assessments in English language arts, math, science and social studies.); male students of color consistently scoring higher than State averages on State standardized tests; higher retention rates than state averages for ISL male students of color; and 100% of 5th grade students in the French immersion track passing the French DELF examination, qualifying them to receive the official French-language diploma awarded by France's Ministry of National Education.