School days for New Voyage Academy
By: Rosalind Perry-McKnight
Originally posted 3/1/2006
St. Paul charter school is making a difference
Based on Chicago educator Marva Collins’ belief that “all children are capable of learning,” New Voyage Academy in St. Paul is definitely making a difference in the lives of young students. The family-based charter school tries to address the needs of each student and family, whether it be substance abuse or other issues.
The school is comprised of mostly African Americans with some Native Americans and Somali students as well, according to Director Tyronne Carter, who says that his initial goal after taking over the position in 2005 was for the school to become financially strong.
New Voyage Academy seems to be meeting that goal. Since Carter became director, the school has acquired enough computers to create software classes for their parents. “It’s a model for the kids,” says Carter. Parental involvement and volunteerism is one of the school’s strengths, as many parents come to the school to help students with daily assignments.
Another sign that the school is meeting its financial and educational goals is the library, which is currently expanding and adding books to its collection. In the entryway of the school is a large board that depicts African American historical figures, including MSR founder Cecil E. Newman pictured with a young Martin Luther King Jr.
New Voyage’s classes are small as compared with public schools, with usually 20 students per class, making it easier for teachers to provide one-on-one attention to the students.
Students are transported by bus to and from New Voyage Academy. Most students are picked up from the part of St. Paul covered by the 55104 zip code, but the school is getting more students from outside that area. “Now, that says something about our school,” Carter says.
With a casual dress code enforced, students come to school ready to learn without the added pressure on their families to buy expensive clothing. “The school provides three T-shirts, and the parents provide the pants,” says Carter.
The school also has a special education program to address the needs of students with impaired vision and hearing. There’s also an African drumming program after school led by Nimley Napla, a Liberian immigrant and a longtime local drum and dance instructor.
A K-8 school for the time being, Carter says there are plans in the future for expanding the school to the 12th grade, as well as starting a summer school.
New Voyage Academy is located at 1745 University Avenue in St. Paul. Call 651-649-5402 or go to www.newvoyage.org for more information.