State approves all-girls charter school in Wilmington

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Todd Godbey. Photo courtesy Young Women Leading, Inc.
Todd Godbey. Photo courtesy Young Women Leading, Inc.

The Port City will soon be home to the first single-gender public school in the state.

Following approval Thursday by the N.C. Board of Education, Leadership Academy for Young Women, will open in Wilmington in August 2016.

Plans for the all-girl charter school got underway in 2013 through the efforts of Judy Girard–a Wrightsville Beach resident who presided over the Food Network from 1998-2004 and later headed up HGTV–and a team of volunteers.

Earlier this year, organizers picked local publisher and community leader Todd Godbey to head up the school and its nonprofit foundation, Young Women Leading, Inc.

Godbey, owner of Nancy Hall Publications–which produces six monthly publications covering southeastern North Carolina, among them Kidsville News–also serves on the board of directors of the Carousel Center, Communities in Schools of Brunswick County and Cape Fear Center for Inquiry, a Wilmington charter school.

The academy aims to prepare predominantly low-income girls in sixth through 12th grades for college.

“At the Leadership Academy for Young Women, we are developing a campus and curriculum that will prepare our students for today’s colleges and careers,” Godbey said. “It’s a 21st Century model with teaching methodologies and curriculum delivery that reflect the creative-thinking, group dynamic, problem-solving and multi-faceted nature of our society.”

The formal go-ahead Thursday means Young Women Leading, Inc. can begin identifying and preparing a site and honing its curriculum. Godbey said in an earlier interview that the school will take a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) approach to teaching–with a focus on inquiry-and project-based learning, while incorporating a “whole girl” model to instill healthy life choices and self-esteem.

“We will create a learning environment that nurtures the emotional, physical and academic needs of each student, and develop a strong and supportive culture among our faculty, students, their families and the broader community,” he said.

The school will open in 2016 with 80 sixth-grade girls and add a similar-sized class each year until reaching full enrollment in 2022. Its first graduating class will be in 2023.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.