“Lakeside Charter Academy is more than an option, it’s my first choice. More than ever before my son wakes up excited to go to school. The dedicated staff is a breath of fresh air. He has teachers who love him and push him to be the best he can be. The curriculum is engaging and challenging. Our school is more than just teachers and students- it’s a family. The small class sizes allow for teachers to really know their students and tails lessons to them. We love everyone who makes LCA the awesome place that it is. This school sure is a hidden gem!”—Alyson Ford
Lakeside Charter Academy (the former Thunderbird Academy) started this year with a lot to overcome. Last year it had a host of issues ranging from dwindling attendance to low test scores.
But a core group of teachers, a new board, and a new principal decided to turn it around. Dr. Jim Montague, school principal and a charter school veteran, stepped in and gave the K-8 school energy and focus: scholarship, leadership, and citizenship. And it shows in every area of the school.
Teachers in grades K-8 assess students three times during the year using Read 3d/Dibels for kindergarten–3rd grade, and NC Check-Ins for 3rd-8th grades. NC Check-Ins are basically a mini-EOG for math and reading. Once they receive the data back, they chart each student’s progress to ensure that children are learning material and advancing. Growth in reading has shown the most marked improvement and math gains have been made as well. Children now have special classes—Spanish, music, art, physical education, and character education—and after-school sports will be added. Each student has a computer, there are projectors in every classroom, and a library is filled with books and rugs and nooks for reading.
But that only tells part of the story.
Dr. Montague wants you to tour the school yourself—any time of the day, with or without an appointment. “We’ve had people return and say it’s not even the same school.” And he’s right in every sense. All the walls have been painted, the floors waxed, and 150 new desks put together personally by him and another parent. Montague believes in leading by example, so when the desks arrived, he brought in his tools and got to work.
Previously Montague was and administrator at two other charter schools, one in a low-income area and one in an affluent one. He understands that no matter the demographic or the budget, that the culture of the school starts at the top. He meets every week with each teacher for a joint planning time so that he’s not only able to offer feedback but also understand what each teacher needs to be successful in the classroom.
Another part of his leadership strategy is inviting local professionals to speak at Friday assemblies. It has had chefs, a 24-year army vet, authors, a representative from Joe Gibbs Leadership, nurses, firemen, and more. “I want students to see there are many options open to them. I want them to see if you experience a setback that you can dust yourself off and get back up.”
Teaching children what it means to be a thoughtful member of a community is an important differentiator of a Lakeside Charter education. When I entered the reception, I was greeted warmly by a receptionist. When I toured with Montague, I could tell that he knew each child by name, knew who’d been sick and who’d gotten a new haircut. And I saw children’s faces light up when he peeked into their classroom. As we walked from one building to the next, a child walking with his class stopped to hold the door for us. Children are being taught in big and small ways what it means to be a good citizen.
There’s still time for your children to be a part of this community. Apply here to be included in the lottery on February 25 at 9am. Currently 82 of its 84 students are returning and there are 161 new applications already in the lottery. Maximum capacity for the 2019-2020 year is 200, so the school will have a unique problem in the fall—more interest than they have seats.
It’s a problem Dr. Montague has worked hard to achieve.