Monday, July 15, 2024

GLOW Academy to break ground this month, featuring leading female design team

Plans for the state's first single-gender charter school, GLOW Academy, are well on their way. Organizers have a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled later this month.

WILMINGTON—GLOW Academy will break ground at its new site later this month.

The state’s first single-gender public charter school was approved by Wilmington’s city council last month. As an all-girls school, its new building’s design team features a majority female cast.

RELATED: GLOW Academy proposes high school, middle school campus for 700 female students

“All that is intentional,” Margee Herring, GLOW Academy’s spokesperson, said.

The architects, the engineers, the support staff are mostly all women.

“They came into our school, got to know our girls, and really created something more than a school,” Herring said. “They created a learning environment.”

Fieri funds

After being granted 30-acres from members of the Cameron family last month, GLOW Academy has had a head start in getting its plans underway.

“The community has been very generous and has given us a big start,” Herring said. 

When Guy Fieri visited town in January, fundraising activities garnered $200,000 to be used toward GLOW Academy’s new facilities.

“We set out to design and build a model of what a 21st Century education and school can be,” Herring wrote in a statement. “It’s expensive to do it differently, but we are seeking a different outcome.”
Site plans, which include separate middle and high school buildings, are over 57,000 sq. ft. to accommodate 700 students. Herring said GLOW Academy will be financing $4 to $6 million on its own to see the project to completion.

Road to approval

To get to this point, GLOW Academy had to obtain a Special Use Permit (SUP) through the city. The SUP allows the charter school to operate in a residential area. When plans were first submitted to council, concerns were brought forth regarding traffic, safety and access.

Council approved the SUP without a Traffic Impact Analysis. GLOW Academy initially submitted a TIA, but it was not accepted due to “errors or deficiencies” according to the SUP. The SUP offered safety suggestions and required the one-way driveway on Barclay Hills Drive to remain open at all times.

GLOW Academy’s site is adjacent to Maides Park, which may serve the school’s staff for a potential partnership.

“Being contiguous to Maides Park, we also have a good opportunity there to support the city’s parks and rec. program,” Herring said.  There’s a lot of good synergy and collaboration going with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.”

Secure campus

Given the timing of the new school, GLOW Academy is able to take national safety concerns into consideration in its new site design.
“As designers, that is always something we are taking into account during the design,” Laura Miller said. 

Miller is the principal in charge at the architectural firm LS3P, which is tasked with designing the new facilities. She said her firm has incorporated both passive and active security measures in the site design. 

“Some things are passive security, like making sure teachers have a clear view of the corridor from their desks,” Miller said. “Or active security, including cameras, door hardware systems that can lock down from the front desk.”

Serving families of lower socioeconomic status, GLOW Academy’s new campus will make use of its surroundings.

“Use of the outdoor campus as part of the learning environment was very critical to GLOW,” Miller said. “It’s kind of a balance because you want it to be secure because safety is the utmost concern for everybody, but you also want students to feel freedom so they don’t feel pinned in.”

Describing designing a secure grounds with an outdoor feel as a “delicate balance,” Miller said the charter school’s plans will resemble a college campus.

“Between fencing and landscaping it will create a secure perimeter and it will still have a collegiate feel,” she said.

The groundbreaking ceremony for GLOW Academy will be held at the building site near Maides Park, April 24 at 10 a.m.

Johanna Ferebee can be reached at or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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