By Kelsie Patrick
Lansing Township News
LANSING TOWNSHIP– Cole Academy is not your average charter school. Through new additions to the school, increased technology in the classroom and impressive state test scores, Cole Academy is making strides toward increased success.
Cole Academy, located on Mt. Hope, between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Pleasant Grove Road, is a charter school, which means it is a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.
Cole Academy is Lansing’s longest-standing charter school and received a charter through Central Michigan University in 1995. The Academy originated as an early childhood center and over the years, gradually became a K-6 public school. Cole Academy currently holds 210 students.
Cole Academy is run by Central Michigan University’s assessment system. This system consists of a MAP– Measures of Academic Progress– test. The academy is required to have all students take this test three times a year. The test is used to see what level of learning students are at, and in turn creates a unique learning path for each student depending on their results.
Cole Academy has made many strides toward success in recent years. On the 2012/2013 MEAP test, Cole Academy’s 6th grade class came out on top in both reading and writing scores in the area beating out Okemos, Haslett, and East Lansing. On the 2013/2014 MEAP test Cole Academy students continued to tremendously improve. The 6th grade class improved in social studies, math and reading by over 10 percent. 5th graders tripled their science scores, were up 12 percent in reading and also up 12 percent in math compared to last year.
“For being a 60-75 percent free-reduced school, we are making remarkable achievements,” said Brian Shaughnessy, principal and superintendent of Cole Academy.
Cole Academy has had a lot of additions to their school in recent years. Principal Brian Shaughnessy said they were able to build a brand new $850,000 gym without any bonds or loansdue to great financial decisions the school has made over the past three years. The academy was then able to create a PE program. The school also added a new art program, library, computer lab and an intervention teacher.The intervention teacher helps guide students who may have a hard time in general education or are educationally gifted as well by giving them the extra support they need to strive and succeed.
“The academy has been doing a lot of great things,” said Elaine Lewis, whose child attends Cole Academy. “It’s added so many new programs and technologies in recent years.”
Increase in technology has been a huge asset for Cole Academy in recent years. All classrooms are equipped with Polyvision Whiteboards, which is an interactive whiteboard that functions without a power cord, or even a USB cable. The only part which is powered is a wireless Bluetooth pen. On top of the new computer lab, the academy will soon provide grades K-2 with chromebooks and iPads and supply grades 3-6 with mini iPads for each student to enhance their methods of learning.
The school follows the NCTE –National Council of Teachers of Education– curriculum for their language arts program. This allows students to read books at their own level and choose their own books, which will in turn make them better readers. For math Cole Academy follows the NCTM –National Council of Teachers of Mathematics– based curriculum.
“Whatever they tell us to do, we do,” said Shaughnessy. “Whatever the research says to do, we do.”
The academy also has numerous extra-curricular activities to offer, including an aftercare club where students use the gym or playoutside. This includes a homework club as well. Cole Academy also has a Girl Scout program, Bible club and is creating a newsletter for kids.
Another special asset of Cole Academy is their work with the National Center for Homeless Education. This program helps provide transportation and provide certain amounts of funds to students in hard situations.
Shaughnessy stated that the biggest problem for his academy is that the kids have nowhere to go after 6th grade. Since Cole Academy is such a small school, there aren’t currently enough children to create a middle school. He said the only way to address this problem is to open another elementary school in Lansing. This will make room for expansion to create a middle school. The Board has approved Shaughnessy’s idea and is allowing him to further pursue this goal.