Lots of student, staff interest in the new school, which will open in 2018-19
By Toni Konz Tatman | JCPS Communications
With five months to go before the W.E.B. DuBois Academy opens its doors to its first inaugural class of students, all seats have been filled and two more administrators have been named to help lead the school.
LaTonya Frazier-Goatley has been named assistant principal, and Calvin Brooks has been named the school's counselor.
"I am extremely excited and enthused to welcome Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Frazier-Goatley onboard to the W.E.B. DuBois Academy," said principal Robert Gunn Jr. "Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Frazier-Goatley bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as leaders, and both have demonstrated an unwavering commitment and passion to positively impacting students in our community."
Frazier-Goatley has served as the Advance Program/Gifted and Talented coordinator for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) since 2013. Prior to that, she worked as a classroom teacher and resource teacher at Chancey Elementary and a teacher at Dixie Elementary.
Brooks has been a counselor at Highland Middle School for the past seven years. Prior to that, he was a counselor at Frayser Elementary and a teacher at Watterson and Sanders Elementary Schools.
The school received a total of 211 applications for its first class, which will consist of 156 sixth-grade students for the 2018-19 year. In subsequent years, the program will grow to become a sixth- through eighth-grade academy serving approximately 450 students.
"We worked very hard to ensure the application process was accessible and transparent to all families," Gunn said in an interview with the district. "There was no minimum criteria for acceptance. The mission of our school is very simple—it is to engage, to eliminate barriers, and to empower each young man who we serve to achieve excellence."
Gunn says the application process involved students filling out an interest survey as well as answering questions about what they want to be when they grow up and why they wanted to enroll at the school. In addition, parents had to answer the question of why they thought their son would be a good fit at DuBois.
"One of the first things we looked at is where the kids were coming from," Gunn said. "There are about dozen elementary schools that are outside of the district's diversity index, which means that they have high concentrations of children who come from poverty. We had 52 students from those schools who listed DuBois as their first choice, and each one them was automatically accepted. This is something I am very proud of."
Gunn, who has spent the past 16 years working with low-income children, said he hopes that helps dispel the notion from some in the community that "we were going to cherry pick students and only going to take high–performing students."
Of the 156 students accepted, about 85 percent are African-American and 84 percent qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Frazier-Goatley was 1 of 41 people who applied for the assistant principal position, and Brooks was 1 of 30 who applied to be the school's counselor.
Gunn is now in the process of reviewing teaching applications. He hopes to fill all nine open positions by the end of March.
The DuBois Academy will be housed at Gheens Academy, 4425 Preston Highway, for the 2018-19 year, with plans to move it to a permanent location for the 2019-20 school year.
The school is designed to meet the needs of all males. It will offer a Multicultural and Afrocentric curriculum in an innovative learning environment in which all students will receive an iPad. In addition to literacy and numeracy, the DuBois Academy will focus on instilling PRIDE values -- Perseverance, Resilience, Initiative, Discipline and Empathy.
DuBois will serve as a model school for the district, where other teachers and administrators can visit and learn practices that will help close the achievement gap across the district.