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3 more Hall schools want charters
Hall board OKs plans; state approval pending
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Board restores Feb. 17 to calendar

Hall County school board members on Monday added Feb. 17 back to the school calendar as an instructional day, meaning teachers and students should attend.

Prior to the school board vote and due to economic concerns, the day was listed on the calendar as a possible reduced work schedule day.

Pending state approval, three new charter schools will soon join Hall County’s ranks.

Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry, Mount Vernon Exploratory School and Flowery Branch High School, a Global Studies and Leadership Academy, all had charter petitions signed by Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield and Board Chairman Nath Morris at Monday night’s school board meeting.

“I can’t remember when we’ve had three local charter petitions at one school board meeting,” Schofield said.
Chesnut Mountain Principal Sabrina May said the CSI program, which was piloted first with upper grades last year, has now been extended to all grade levels. The program has students choose topics to study based on the Georgia Performance Standards.

“We’ve been able to really put together a charter program that we feel supports everything the board is already doing,” May said. “We’ve also included things like digital literacy because we want our students to understand not everything online is true. We’ve also included a health literacy component with the support of UnitedHealthcare and a civic literacy component.”

May said administrators and faculty felt it was very important to teach students character, patriotism and how to be an involved citizen.

“They need to understand that there’s a world outside Chestnut Mountain,” she said.

Similarly, Flowery Branch High’s charter petition centers on teaching students how to be global citizens. Because students at the high school come from charter schools such as World Language Academy and South Hall Middle School’s DaVinci Academy, the charter development committee felt it was necessary to have similar components available at the high school level, Principal Mark Coleman said.

“One angle of focus is we want to expand our foreign language department. We want to offer Mandarin Chinese,” he told board members. “We want our students to travel over the summer. That would be totally optional, but we want to give them an avenue to travel abroad.”

Coleman said the school also wants to start an Air Force ROTC program as part of the charter and possibly implement public speaking classes as well.

Flowery Branch High Band Director Dennis Naughton, who was on the charter planning committee, said the global learning would be in every subject, even the fine arts.

“If we’re studying an Asian country, in fine arts we’ll look at Asian music and composers,” he said. “This will be culminated in the process of senior portfolios.”

And for students who cannot study abroad, Naughton said partnerships will be established with the more than 40 international businesses in the area to have field trips and school visits set up.

“There may be students who do not get out of Hall County, but we want to expose them to some type of global studies,” he said.

Like Chestnut Mountain, Mount Vernon’s charter program was piloted prior to the charter planning. The school’s new program is based on project-based learning and the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and math principles as well as humanities, not just the traditional subjects.

“Some of the skills students lack are the collaboration piece, working together and problem solving,” Principal Connie Daniels said. “That’s the premise of project-based learning. We feel like this has been very successful.”

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