• 59°

East Spencer charter school reopens with strong enrollment

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School opened on Aug. 17, the same day as Rowan-Salisbury Schools, and it has seen strong enrollment growth.

The first day was all remote. Principal Latisha Feamster, who is new to the role, said that provided time for teachers and parents to get a running start with remote learning.

Leading up to the first day, the school worked with families to make sure they had devices and internet access they needed to start school. To help with that, the school received support from a number of organizations heading into this year, notably Hotwire Communications, which provided devices for each student.

Feamster said the beginning of school has not been without its challenges, including some faced by other schools like trouble with virtual meeting software. But Feamster said the school adapted as challenges arose, pushing out virtual classes to other platforms with which there wasn’t trouble.

The charter school’s 150-student enrollment is diminutive compared to the 18,000 RSS students, but the community school is meeting its growth goal and families are continuing to enroll.

Essie Mae Board Chair Tina Foxx Wallace said community schools in East Spencer left over the years, and the school was started as a way to bring a sense of community back. 

Foxx Wallace said the pandemic has forced the school to implement some of its long-term strategies earlier than expected, including the school’s growth plan to reach more students outside of its center. She said the school is excited about where it can go and the impact it can have on the town as well as the county as a whole.

“As a school, overall, we’re coming out much stronger and probably progressing much faster than we anticipated toward our growth objective,” Foxx Wallace said.

The school took on a blended schedule similar to RSS and Kannapolis City Schools. K-2 students attend Tuesday and Wednesday, and grades 3-6 attend Thursday and Friday. Monday is an all-remote day.

The school is delivering meals to students via bus on days off.

Charter schools are public schools that operate independently from traditional school systems. They have to provide for capital needs like facilities and buses with private funding, but they receive allocations per-student from the state like public schools.

As a charter school, Essie Mae is subject to the same safety requirements as Rowan-Salisbury. It had to cut student density in the building by at least 50%, begin enhanced cleaning measures, require everyone to maintain social distance and wear masks.

Feamster said students have done well following the safety guidelines, and the staff models behavior they want to see in their students.

Emiliano Merced, the school’s new Spanish teacher, said the start of the year has been challenging, but it has gone OK. He said the school is encountering speed bumps, but it’s adapting. Merced said teachers will come out of the experience stronger.

“It has been a challenge, and it’s still a challenge, it’s still a process,” Merced said. “But, at the same time I know, and I’m 100% sure that this is not just a challenge for us. This is a challenge for the whole district, or the whole county, or the whole nation.”

Merced gave the example of learning a language through immersion. If someone lives in an area where people mostly speak a language they do not know, they tend to learn it quickly as a necessity. He thinks teachers will become stronger at teaching remote and be prepared for a future where blended learning could be the new standard.

Comments

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs