Antonio Parks, Georgia Leadership Academy

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

This interview is a part of TARA's Visionary School Founder Series where we highlight the vision, innovation & strides that school founders have made in education.

Founding Principal:
Antonio Parks

School: Georgia Leadership Academy

Location: Atlanta, GA

Antonio Parks is a Georgia native, born and raised in West Atlanta. Growing up in the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia, and having younger brothers, He had always understood the importance of effective leadership, even more so when he joined the United States Navy. 

Antonio was an assistant principal at John H. Amesse Elementary School - where he learned that student achievement and school success are not by chance, or is it a quick fix, but rather a detailed and intentional process that requires consistency and dedication. Additionally, Antonio was a pioneer teacher in Teach to One (TTO) math program and the Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) regional specialists for Denver’s Far North East region.

Antonio wants to guarantee that students receive the best education possible. He understands the value of teamwork and community - because it truly takes a village to raise a child. He wants to be a part of that village, the village that inspires, promotes, loves, and protects our students.

Georgia Leadership Academy is seeking a five-year state-wide charter in Georgia through the State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC) and is slated to enroll 4th - 8th-grade students in Fall 2024. GLA’s vision is “to provide a quality and intentional educational experience that will shift outcomes for students and families in Atlanta.” Reserve your seat at GLA - Learn more!

What is your unique approach to K-12 education? What makes your school different in terms of method?

“Our mission at Georgia Leadership Academy is to elevate culture through Community-Connection, Curriculum, and Curiosity. Our inquiry-based approach promotes high-academic achievement that ignites curious learners today to become confident leaders of tomorrow. We are the school of curious minds. We encourage curiosity because curiosity breeds innovation.

These core values have helped inform the unique characteristics of our education program including:

Trauma-Informed Practices and instruction paired with embedded mental health support:- Current research suggests a correlation between Social Emotional Learning (SEL), college and career readiness, and overall student success (Gregory et al.,2016), as such, we believe approaching SEL through a trauma-informed framework. Research demonstrates that this is particularly important when working with students of color, who contend with both historical and systemic traumas (Alvarez 2020). For this reason, once a week, students will have access to group therapy provided by community partnerships.

Community Connection- Robust community connections aid students in becoming home-grown leaders in preparation for worldwide influence and assist in advancing education in every community.

Nontraditional Master Schedule - Flexibility built into the master schedule will allow us to prioritize academic support, leadership development, and mental health service for every student.

Leadership-focused Extracurriculars: GLA will offer students a plethora of opportunities, during and after school, that will help them begin their leadership journeys. These will include Mock Trial Team, Black Student Union (BSU), Latinas in Leadership, Speech, and debate, and community service.”

Watch Antonio's interview!

What lesson(s) have you learned from the founding process? Looking back, is there anything you would've done differently?

“The one thing that I learned, and already knew, was this work is hard but it is necessary. I would not change anything about this process thus far.”

Why would a teacher want to work at your charter school vs others? What types of support will you provide teachers to cultivate a position culture?

“At Georgia Leadership Academy, we believe in supporting students and teachers holistically. Many of our approaches respond to the national teacher burnout rate pre and post-pandemic. one response we will implement is a balanced school year calendar (year-round school). This form of scheduling allows teachers to receive 10-14 days off and the traditional breaks received in district schools. Teacher retention is a genuine concern that requires honest and intentional responses. We believe that consistent breaks throughout the year will positively impact teachers' mental health, academics, and the overall culture at Georgia leadership Academy. Furthermore, we have a 15:1 student to teacher ratio, with 1:1 tutoring for every student that can be utilized in the classroom as an intervention, small group support, and other differentiation strategies.”

What is your school's biggest need today?

“Our biggest need as of May 11th is to find a building and to find students and families to reach out target enrollment” - Learn more about GLA enrollment here!

Stay connected with Georgia Leadership Academy!

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