October 3, 2023
Annapolis, US 69 F

New Village Academy — A New Charter School Possibly Coming to Annapolis

New Village Academy, a new non-profit proposing to open a small public charter high school in Annapolis in Fall 2024,
has received a prestigious national grant to foster public school innovation. NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture
philanthropy, has included New Village Academy in its Launch 2024 Venture Portfolio – one of 18 new public and charter
school teams around the country showing promise in seeking to meet community needs and provide a holistic approach
to student learning by expanding the definition of student success. NewSchools bridges the gap between those with
capital and those with the courage to put that capital to work on the frontlines of education, especially for student
populations that have been traditionally underserved or overlooked.

NOTE: The event below, Arts Alive 25, was held on September 8, 2023.

New Village Academy has submitted a proposal to Anne Arundel County Public Schools to operate a charter high school
in Annapolis. If approved, the school plans to begin operating in Annapolis in Fall 2024 with 150-250 young people
seeking “high school done differently.”

The school’s name calls forth the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” and asks the community to come together to “launch all its youth into thriving careers, strong character, and active civic engagement.” The Mayor and City Council have heeded that call – offering the partnership of the City of Annapolis. The Annapolis community’s support also seems strong, with community leaders like Carl Snowden, Laura Gutierrez, Will Rowel, and Pam Brown on its Advisory Board, and Letters of Support from a broad range of community organizations and individuals. The school declares that students will use “Annapolis as their classroom.”

Students’ lack of interest in school has a lot to do with them not being in control of their decision-making process..

Student Nakiyah Lewis

Members of the school’s Youth Advisory Board were at the recent Annapolis Juneteenth Festival to let families know
about the new high school option, which focuses on building student agency – the “will” and the “skill” to be ready for
their future through personalized learning, community-based interdisciplinary projects, college coursework, internships,
and apprenticeships. According to Youth Advisory Board member, Nakiyah Lewis, currently an Annapolis High School
student, “Students’ lack of interest in school has a lot to do with them not being in control of their decision-making
process. Connecting to students’ personal interests will have a better outcome for their future.”

New Village Academy intends to reengage disconnected students by drawing on well-established research about what
makes people willing to work hard at something, summarized in the popular book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about
What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink. Their brochure promises to meet four conditions to rebuild student enthusiasm for
school – ensuring that every student is “known as a unique individual, connected to real-world learning and networks,
empowered to take charge of their education and future, and accountable to meaningful quality work.”

In addition to grant funding, the NewSchools Innovative Public Schools award includes management assistance and a
national community of practice to help teams build and operate strong, excellent schools.

If approved at the August 23rd AACPS Board meeting, their lottery-based enrollment process – intentionally weighted to favor students from low-income communities in Annapolis – will begin on the AAPCS website on October 1st. There will be no selective admissions– all high school students who choose the school’s approach are welcome. As a charter school, New Village Academy would be free to all Anne Arundel County residents.

The purpose of the Maryland Charter School Program is to establish innovative learning opportunities to improve the education of Maryland students. New Village Academy founder Romey Pittman suggests, “Our small size will enable us to be more nimble than a larger school system and provide an incubator for new strategies to inspire and challenge students who are not thriving in larger traditional high schools.”

If approved, New Village Academy will pioneer some of the most talked-about innovations in education across the nation: a focus on work-based learning, strong advisory and relationship-building, competency-based learning – where students are awarded credit based on their skills, not on seat-time, culturally responsive curriculum, and personalized learning where students can move forward at their own pace.

The school proposes to tackle urgent needs in the Annapolis community, addressing the racial, ethnic, and economic
opportunity gap, the Maryland Blueprint’s call for career and technical education pathways, and the shifting educational
and workplace demands of the 21st century.

New Village Academy is in conversation with Westfield Annapolis Mall to lease space within the Mall itself, contributing
to Westfield’s strategy of strengthening the Mall’s role as a community hub. This innovative location allows students to
learn from the “real world” businesses and organizations in and around the Mall, and to take advantage of its location as
the endpoint of many public transit routes.

For more information about New Village Academy, curious readers can visit the school’s website:

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