Sunday, August 14, 2022

GLOW Academy nonprofit expands to pre-K, will open all-boys school

The GLOW NC Board of Directors plans to open four or five co-ed, mixed-income early childhood education centers over the next three years, with the first slated to open in July 2023. (Courtesy GLOW)

WILMINGTON — The Board of Directors of GLOW NC, the nonprofit foundation that supports the all-girls charter school, GLOW Academy, is making changes to expand its outreach.

To be known as “Beacon Education,” the name change comes with a broadening mission to provide earlier and more equitable access to high-quality education, CEO Todd Godbey announced Friday.

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Beacon Education plans to open four or five co-ed, mixed-income early childhood education centers over the next three years, with the first slated to open in July 2023. The foundation is also targeting opening a co-ed elementary school, and subsequently a middle and high school for boys, in the next four years. 

“Our board spent a couple of years considering data and community need to determine how to make the greatest impact in our community,” said Godbey, who also sits on the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board. “Together with GLOW faculty and community leaders, it became clear that we need to start earlier to address the inequities in education that cause the opportunity and achievement gaps.”

Data from Smart Start New Hanover County points to a critical shortage of high-quality early childhood programs, according to the release.

“We have lost about 10% of the slots for children in childcare programs in our county,” said Jane Morrow, executive director of Smart Start of New Hanover County. “Programs are facing a shortage of qualified employees which has a tremendous impact on families who rely on quality care to go back to work and on children who rely on quality care for supportive relationships, development of core skills, and a safe and nurturing environment.”

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The early childhood education schools will provide programming for children aged six weeks through pre-kindergarten. The co-ed, mixed-income program will offer sliding scale scholarships for families in need. 

Each center will accommodate approximately 150 students, according to Beacon Education, with the first location to be announced later this summer. Plans also include an on-site community health-care clinic and frequent weekend community farmers markets. 

Beacon Education says it will offer programming similar to GLOW Academy’s focus on college and career readiness at its planned boys’ middle and high school. This includes a robust college-bound program, university outreach and alumni support, and a workforce development program with internships and corporate/business partnerships. 

It also plans to enhance its GLOW Academy to include a community healthcare clinic, staffed weekly by a PA and a full-time mental health professional. GLOW already employs a full-time nurse.

GLOW Academy’s inaugural class of students is preparing for high-school graduation in 2023. The all-female student body began their educational career at the academy in 2016 as its first sixth-grade class. The middle and high school is one of 21 single-gender schools nationwide that follow an educational model developed for girls from predominantly underserved communities — often the first in their families to attend college.

According to a press release, on average students at GLOW begin sixth grade more than three years behind their grade level. Beacon Education also cites a 2018 ProPublica study using data from the U.S. Department of Education that found Black students in New Hanover County were academically three grades behind white students, an achievement gap it notes is reflected statewide.


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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at alexandria@localdailymedia.com or on Twitter @alexsands_

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