Last school year was a landmark year for Cherokee Charter Academy in that the state approved the school to serve students beyond Cherokee County; its attendance area now includes Cherokee, Bartow, Cobb and Pickens counties.

“We were excited to be able to give parents in these communities the opportunities to choose a free school option that was a better fit for their child,” said Principal April Wallis in an email to the Tribune.

A new initiative at the school this year works to ensure that students get extra time to master grade level content. “Tiger Time” is a designated 30-minute period in which students can work in smaller groups with peers at a similar academic level to revisit previous content and remediate or enrich the standards.

“Many schools often teach a unit and move on whether a student understands or not. Tiger Time gives us the time to go back over content to make sure a student understands,” Wallis said.

The middle school grades have improved in state accountability ratings, increasing by eight points on the College and Career Ready Performance Index over last school year, and the principal attributes this to “Tiger Time.”

The charter school also implemented a Positive Behavior Intervention System in order to promote a positive community amongst students. The community is further developed through a newly created house system, allowing students to experience social and emotional learning opportunities with peers in other classes and grade levels.

Last year, teachers participated in training on the 8 Steps of Continuous Improvement model. As a result of this training, teachers were able to create curriculum maps from the state standards that better fit the needs of their students.

Cherokee Charter’s goals include continuing the work began last year in order to strengthen the “Tiger Time” period and a focus on personalized learning.

This year, the school added a new assistant principal, Gloria Clarke. Clarke has nearly 30 years of experience in education and leadership experience in both the traditional public school and charter school environment. She also worked with NASA in their education department and has helped develop Cherokee Charter’s STEM curriculum.

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Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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