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Spotlight: Lead Academy

Nestled in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina you’ll find a k-8 public charter school, Lead Academy, doing incredible work for the students and families of this community. Since opening its doors in 2010, Lead Academy has not only seen growth in its student population but in its student achievement as well. We were recently able to walk the hallways of Lead Academy, sit down with Lead’s school leader, Rodney Johnson, and observe some dynamic classrooms. We witnessed amazing instruction, engaged scholars, and a powerful performance from Mr. Scott’s dynamic band. 

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Rich Richards, our Chief of Staff, had this to say about Lead Academy’s visionary school leader, Mr. Johnson.

“When I first met Rodney, I was immediately impressed by his awareness, hunger, and growth mentality. As we walked in and out of classrooms, Rodney didn’t spend much time talking about the wins or bright spots at LEAD (of which there are many). Instead, he spoke about his strategic goals and priorities for the year – specifically, how he planned to spend more time in classrooms coaching teachers, providing professional development tailored to the needs of his staff, and reaching more students in Greenville who would benefit from LEAD’s rigorous academic program. I left the building confident that the students in Rodney’s care would have every opportunity to reach college and lead impactful lives thereafter. Greenville is fortunate to have LEAD Academy, Rodney Johnson, and his staff.”

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Rodney Johnson

A message from the school leader, Rodney Johnson:

“Lead Academy was founded seven years ago by a group of educators with an unyielding belief in the leadership potential of all students.  We operate a school with a diverse student body that rallies around our four core principles of being nice, working hard, serving well, and having fun.  These principles serve as guideposts for our vision of cultivating students who will be successful leaders in high school, college, and life beyond the classroom.

Through a partnership with EL Education, Lead Academy focuses on educating and developing well-rounded students who are prepared to identify their passions, create opportunities in their lives, and make a difference in their community.  EL Education, previously known as Expeditionary Learning, is an initiative started by The Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound USA that seeks to redefine student achievement by viewing it in three dimensions: Mastery of Academic Skills and Content, High-Quality Work, and Character.  We hold shared beliefs and have put common practices in place that strengthen our students’ abilities and allow them to thrive in these areas.”

Below you’ll learn how Lead is implementing the tenants of EL Education.

Mastery of Academic Skills and Content: This year, students in all grades are tracking their own achievement using data binders that keep record of performance on academic standards and character expectations (otherwise known as Habits of Leadership).

High-Quality Work: Students engage in semester-long deep dives into a particular academic topic that we call an Expedition.  Characteristics of expeditions include interdisciplinary learning, field lessons away from campus, guest experts on the topic of study, and a high-quality final product.  These adventures in learning require students to research the topic and develop multiple drafts of the product until excellence is reached.

Character: Our goal is to create and model a school-wide culture of respect and compassion. We use Crew time as the vehicle to accomplish this goal.  Each morning, every student at Lead Academy begins their day with their Crew.  For younger students, it is time set aside with their classmates and teacher.  For fifth graders and above, it’s a daily session with 10-11 of their peers.  During Crew we emphasize our core values and develop a common language around our Habits of Leadership.  Crew is also our “family within a family” and a safe space for students to share freely.

What’s even more exciting is Lead Academy will be moving into its brand new building for the 2017-2018 school year. Below are some photos of the project that is sure to serve the scholars of Greenville exceptionally well.

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If you’d like more information on Lead Academy please visit the school website at www.myleadacademy.com or call 864-770-1790.