Education is changing. Gone are the days where all the children in a neighborhood went to the same elementary, middle and high schools and stuck together for 12 years of public education. Today’s students and parents have multiple options for learning. One of the freshest education opportunities is right here in Tucker – Smoke Rise Prep.
According to founding board member Lisa Khemani, Smoke Rise Prep has been well received from the beginning. “Within 48 hours, we had 20 families interested,” she said. “It was amazing.” Smoke Rise Prep is a hybrid of public and home-school education. Students will attend classes facilitated by certified teachers who lead them through the nationally recognized K-12 Curriculum. Students are registered through the Georgia Cyber Academy, a public charter school, and attend classes at the Smoke Rise Prep facility for 5 and ½ hours per day, 5 days per week. In addition to one-hour blocks for core subjects such as reading and math, students will have the opportunity for art, music, and PE experiences. “We’re fortunate to have several artists on our board,” Khemani noted.
Although teachers assist students with their daily work at Smoke Rise Prep, parents are ultimately responsible for their child’s education. Parents work directly with Georgia Cyber Academy, which provides all textbooks and instructional materials for the curriculum, as well as opportunities for numerous field trips. Parents provide additional supplies, including a laptop computer and headphones. There is a $250 nonrefundable deposit to reserve a spot at Smoke Rise Prep, and a $250 per month membership fee which helps cover the cost of teachers and facility rental. Parents must volunteer 10 hours per month either in the classroom or behind the scenes raising funds and grant writing.
Lisa Holloway of Tucker attended a recent informational meeting. “I was very impressed. I was excited about the opportunity to think outside the box and do something different. Instead of trying to fix a broken system, just go ahead and do something totally different.”
For the 2011-2012 school year, Smoke Rise Prep will serve up to 40 children in grades 1 through 6. Students will be divided into two classes, one serving grades 1 through 3, and the other grades 4 through 6. There is flexibility for students to move between the two classrooms as needed for appropriate levels of instruction. Though they are starting small, Khemani has big plans for the future. “We hope to grow by one to two classrooms per year, and then within probably 5 years get our own facility.”
“People are really excited about it. Everyone that we’ve told has said, ‘Wow, what a great idea!’ We’ve talked to some folks at K-12 who are very interested in watching our progress and working with us and also the folks at Georgia Cyber Academy,” Khemani said. “I think we’ll see more innovative ways of educating your children popping up over the next few years.”
Khemani is pleased with the community support she’s received, and is ready for the school’s August 15 start date. “I can’t even tell you how nice it’s been. Doors are opening, people are excited and positive, and it’s been amazing how quickly and relatively easily it’s come together considering what we’re trying to do.”
Smoke Rise Prep is nearing capacity for the 2011-2012 school year. For more information on the school, its staff and how to enroll, visit the Smoke Rise Prep website.