New Grand Rapids charter school, Gerald Dawkins Academy, puts the focus on literacy

Buddy Moorehouse
Sep 6, 2023 8:56:11 AM

A new charter school in Grand Rapids has an intense focus on the most important skill that young people need to succeed – literacy.

Located in the heart of Grand Rapids on the city’s southeast side, Gerald Dawkins Academy is an elementary school with an intense focus on reading and writing. Authorized by Grand Valley State University, Gerald Dawkins Academy opened as a K-3 school and will eventually expand grades to become a K-5 school.

The school is named for the late Dr. Gerald Dawkins, a lifelong educator who was a teacher, counselor and administrator in the Grand Rapids Public Schools district. He later served as the superintendent of the Saginaw school district.

We are so excited for the children and families who are making Gerald Dawkins Academy their choice,” Principal Mark Frost told Fox17. “My Assistant Principal Lacey James and I believe in this literacy-intensive model and have the utmost confidence in the teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, and volunteers who have been assembled for this awesome opportunity to provide a well-rounded academic experience for our scholars.” 

Gerald Dawkins Academy will feature small class sizes, one-on-one technology and individualized learning. The driving force behind Gerald Dawkins Academy is the Center for Sound Literacy, a Grand Rapids-based organization with a mission “to impact the future lives of urban elementary students through the power of literacy achievement.”

The school’s curriculum will integrate reading and writing into every academic subject.

School officials also say that community involvement and partnerships will be a hallmark of Gerald Dawkins Academy.

One of the most attractive aspects of this school is its location, because proximity matters,” Board President and former Grand Rapids Public Schools educator Jerry McComb said. “One of our primary goals is to have all of our students reading at grade level by third grade, and we know this neighborhood is growing and there are more families moving in. We also know literacy rates are not where they need to be in this neighborhood, so it’s our desire to come and walk alongside children and families in this critically important work.”

The school opened in grand fashion on Aug. 22 with an actual red carpet that was rolled out, welcoming the students to their new school. The grand-opening ceremony featured officials and guests from the community as well as Grand Valley State University.

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