GFM JUN 2016
ACE opened on August 4, 2014 with 760 students. While the school is awaiting its accreditation certification from AdvanceED, it is in its second year of business and possesses a student body of 1,127 young pupils. Presently, ACE offers grade levels kindergarten to ninth grade, but the school plans to add grade levels each year until it is a K–12 school. In its attempt to create a culture for educational excellence, ACE’s mission is “to build the foundation of knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary for children to become independent learners for life.”
Principal Laura Perkins and Esterine Stokes, Dean of Instruction, are the founders of ACE and the creators of this mission. Together, they bring 60+ years of educational experience to the school, and they intend to protect the integrity of the teaching and learning environment. Perkins and Stokes aim to reduce the pressure placed upon teachers with the hope that this effort will strengthen students’ knowledge retention. “If we say that students should be our focus, then that must be the case. Teachers can’t continue to be bombarded by paperwork of no value while taking time away from the students,” explains Perkins. ACE uses a classical education model of curriculum to assist in attaining this goal. The curriculum maximizes the focus on students’ experiential learning while lessening the pressure often placed on teachers to meet certain standardized results.
The classical education model provides a rigorous, relevant educational experience for students in an environment that encourages the consideration and investigation of various events. ACE’s educational program helps students develop real life skills that will enable their creativity and allow them to be self-directing, productive members of the Macon-Bibb County community or any setting of their choosing. Hands-on learning and the application of knowledge are also crucial points that are stressed within the program. Recently, kindergarteners studied fairy tales and dressed up as characters to experience the fairy tale life. In third grade, kids compared the works and lives of Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez. Meanwhile, sixth graders debated nurture vs. nature as they read Beowulf, and eighth graders used PVC pipe to play “Ode to Joy,” studying how sound waves are affected by changes in amplitude and pitch. Ninth grade students in their first AP class discussed models of agriculture and the economic challenges farmers face, as well as assessing the concept of economy of scale and evaluating the role of women in economic development.
Students’ hard work and determination does not go unnoticed at this groundbreaking school; rather, it is noted, recognized, and rewarded. Several young authors who attend ACE have won awards in the Young Georgia Authors Competition held throughout the state, while the visual arts students have been invited to paint murals in downtown Macon. In the music program, the band, orchestra, and grammar school choruses all scored superiors at their recent music competitions. Likewise, the Advanced Women’s choir was invited to perform at the 2016 Georgia Music Educators symposium held in Athens—a remarkable achievement. Moreover, in its first year on the Academic Bowl team, ACE won first place in the Quiz Bowl Championship. Due to outstanding performance and ranking during the second year, the school received an invitation to compete in the 9th Annual Junior National Academic Championship held in Washington, D.C.
Aside from its exciting academic programs and accomplishments, ACE also has several opportunities for students interested in athletics. Students have the option to participate in cross country, soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, cheerleading, and swimming; for younger scholars, peewee football and peewee cheerleading are offered as well. In an effort to enhance its athletic programs, the school has raised over $370,000 to establish athletic fields so that ACE Scholar Athletes can compete at home.
Lastly, ACE gives much credit to its body of parents: “We believe that the success we have is because we have parents who work to ensure that their children come to school prepared to learn each day,” Perkins says. She and others at ACE believe that the extraordinary happens every day when students discover new things and ideas and become excited about them. #