Charter secures facility, another continues search

By Greg Gelpi

As Clayton County's first charter school secures a facility, a second charter school is gaining momentum.

Patricia Lewis, the founder and chief executive officer of the Lewis Academy of Excellence, has found a facility for her school. Members of the Clayton County Board of Education recently expressed concern over her lack of a school facility.

Although plans to use the former Service Merchandise building on Mt. Zion Road fell through, she said that the charter school will lease facilities from Wings of Faith Ministries on Old Conley Road in Conley.

According to her charter with the school system, she must have a facility by June 1, and Lewis announced that she is working on signing the paperwork on the Conley facility.

"We have a plan in place to ensure that Lewis Academy of Excellence will open Aug. 1, 2005," Lewis said, explaining that she is working under a timeline to make sure that everything is set to open. "Our timeline will ensure success."

Workers are in place to renovate the facility and get it ready for its opening, she said.

A parent and grandparent open house is set for July.

Elsa Celestine, who is leading efforts to establish the Scholars Academy charter school in Clayton County, said that finding a facility is the hardest part of starting a charter school, adding that her "steering" committee is still searching for a facility.

The Scholars Academy, a school for 500 kindergarten through fifth grade students, is in the process of writing its charter application, which must be submitted to and approved by the Clayton County Board of Education, and plans to open in August 2006 if the application is accepted, she said.

"I'm going to say it's my vision from the Holy Father up above," Celestine, who has about 12 years in education, said of her reason for starting the school. "I know I can give back much much more to the community. I'm tired of what I'm seeing."

The charter school will provide more learning opportunities to Clayton students, particularly those who are "academically at risk," she said. The school will also provide more "professional opportunities" for teachers.

"We think that something must be done," she said, explaining that the "morale" of the public school system is low.

The Scholars Academy will offer longer school days, character education, foreign language classes and teaching individualized for students, Celestine said. Students will also be required to wear uniforms, and academics will focus on hands-on activities. Parental involvement will be integral to the school, she said.

"We really want to get our parents involved 100 percent," Celestine said. "We feel that getting those parents involved will really get those children where they need to be."

For more information on Scholars Academy, call Celestine at (404) 226-6318 or write to her at elsacelestine@yahoo.com .