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For Leland and Columbus charter day schools, it’s back-to-school time

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Year-round charter schools are starting the new academic year with excitement and growth.
As students arrived for the much-anticipated first day of classes at Charter Day School in Leland and Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, a few changes on campus greeted them, such as a record number of students, continuation of major new curriculum enhancements, and a new headmaster at Charter Day School.
Monday, July 23, marked the beginning on the new academic year, and Charter Day School topped previous attendance records with 922 students on that first day.
Its sister school, Columbus Charter School, also opened with an attendance record of 722 students.
“The reason for the excitement and enthusiasm of its teaching staff are several-fold,” said Superintendent Mark T. Cramer. “Last year was a challenge, as we instituted major new curriculum changes in grammar, writing and literacy.”
While both schools usually scored exceptionally well on all of the year-end state tests, Cramer said the Charter Day School Board of Trustees felt these subjects needed to have even more rigor.
“Rather than introduce one new change each year, we changed all three areas last year, and the training and teacher adaption was a monumental challenge,” Cramer said. “By the third quarter, things smoothed out and the advantages of the new curricula were evident to all students and teachers alike.”
“The new grammar curriculum is incredible with my children learning the parts of speech and correct sentence structure,” said kindergarten teacher Brianna Cox. “They can then begin writing with an understanding of the basic elements of style and correct grammar, which is not traditionally taught that early.
The literacy elements also underwent a major revision last year with more advanced textual structure and instruction in reading comprehension strategies.
“Now that we have a year’s experience under our belts with these new programs, everyone is looking forward to a fun year of the children advancing their skills and showing what they are really capable of,” said Cary Andrews, associate superintendent for reading and literacy.
Cramer is returning to his role as headmaster, as former Headmaster Jennifer Beamer moves back to her home state of Maryland. A retired Marine Corp Major, Cramer was Charter Day School’s headmaster from the school’s founding until 2008.
“The most important aspect of our schools is the students,” he said, as he helped kindergarteners find their rooms along Learning Lane. “And while I will continue my role as superintendent of schools, it gives me great pleasure to be back working on a day-to-day basis with the staff, teachers, and students at Charter Day School.”
Charter Day School and Columbus Charter School, which are managed by The Roger Bacon Academy (RBA), are year-round schools where classes start earlier in the summer but have longer breaks throughout the year. Experience has shown that academic skill retention is higher with shorter summer breaks and a year-round schedule.
The Charter Day School Board of Trustees was recently recommended by the N.C. Charter School Advisory Council to be approved by the State Board of Education on their next charter school, Douglass Academy.
“Now that the charter school cap is lifted, we are continuing to expand and add new schools,” said Barbra Jones, coordinator of community relations and new school development.
“We are anticipating opening our downtown charter school for the 2013 school year and providing quality education to even more North Carolina students,” Cramer said.
The Roger Bacon Academy schools are tuition-free, open enrollment public schools in southeastern North Carolina. Since 2000, RBA has focused on quality K-8 education and develops premier performance-driven year round schools. Widely recognized as a compelling choice to conventional public education, the organization has built a reputation for dedicated and highly qualified teachers that give students a strong and proven academic foundation. RBA schools have received numerous awards, including the designation of being a Top-25 School for Academic Growth and Excellence in the state of North Carolina.