Eastern set to open charter school this fall

Eastern recently founded the Eastern University Academy Charter School, which will provide a unique learning environment for 7th to 12th grade students within the Philadelphia school district.

“It is an early college high school, which means students are earning college credits while in high school,” said Yvonne Turner, director of the early college high school and dual credit programs.

At the charter school, students will be able to earn up to 60 college credits by the time they graduate. Some graduation requirements include taking the SAT, visiting and applying to colleges, completing a college portfolio and earning at least three college credits.

According to the school’s Web site, “The mission of Eastern University Academy Charter School is to provide a holistic, college-integrated learning community dedicated to the education of each student in the context of his or her unique interests.”

The school will provide an individualized learning plan for each student. All subjects will be studied within the context of the student’s customized plan.

“The individualized learning plan process is an ongoing process,” Turner said. Three times a year, students meet with a teacher and a mentor to determine their academic program.

At Eastern University Academy Charter School, the students’ learning experience includes both classroom time and internship experience. Three days a week are devoted to the individualized learning plan, while the other two days are used to work at internships.

“The student and teacher – we call them advisors – have a long ongoing relationship,” Turner said. “The advisor is with them when they start and will stay with them until their senior year.”

A small student-to-teacher ratio is important in maintaining the close student-teacher relationship, so each teacher will only advise 17 students.

The school will start this fall with just 51 7th graders and 51 9th graders. Over the next four years the school will grow to have students in each grade from 7th through 12th. From then on, new students will only be brought in for 7th grade. The school will never exceed 357 students.

Eastern got the idea to start an early education program about five or six years ago.

“It evolved from communication between Dr. Black and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation,” Turner said. The Big Picture Company also got involved, which led to the individualized learning plan structure.

The Eastern University Academy Charter School is currently accepting applications for enrollment. The school will officially open in July and students will begin classes in September.

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