Community Academy Opens its Doors at Charter School Newark

Tuesday, 07 October 2014 14:13 Local Talk News Editor


Even though Tqisha Floyd dropped out of high school when she was 16, she constantly tries to instill the need in her three children to finish school.

Floyd admits, however, that she isn't the best messenger: "How can I tell my kids to finish school, when I didn't?"

So at 40, Floyd is hoping to set an example for her children by getting her GED through a new Community Academy sponsored by North Star Academy, the Urban League of Essex County, the City of Newark and At-Large Councilman Carlos Gonzalez. It was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Newark Charter School Fund.

The Community Academy opened its doors on Saturday, Oct. 4 at North Star Academy's Alexander Street Elementary School in Newark's West Ward. The Community Academy will also offer free fitness and nutrition classes and parent advocacy and empowerment workshops taught by local experts.

"Our Newark communities are full of citizens who are eager to contribute to society in larger ways," said Vivian Fraser, president of the Urban League. "We are proud to offer these additional services in a local public school building."

Already, 40 people have signed up for the GED class, and another 60 are on the waiting list. Most of those who registered for the class have no prior connection to North Star Academy.

"At North Star Academy, our mission extends beyond educating just our students,"
said Juliana Worrell, principal of the North Star's Alexander Street school. "We are here to serve the entire community, including those who may not have received the benefits of a high-quality education when they were younger. We hope many members of the community will take advantage of this tremendous asset."

For Floyd, the Community Academy is giving her an opportunity to improve her life. She is hoping to obtain her general equivalency diploma by the spring at the same time her two oldest children, ages 19 and 17, are getting their high school diplomas. Afterwards, she hopes to attend college so she can become a drug counselor.

"Fear kept me from going back, but I am ready now," said Floyd, who has been in recovery for six years.

In addition to offering GED classes, the Community Academy will offer a variety of educational and empowering workshops, including knowing your legal rights, money matters, college readiness, parenting, community activism, education policy, career development and entrepreneurship and housing rights.

"All Newark residents, regardless of their age, deserve access to high-quality educational options," said Mashea Ashton, CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund. "We're proud to support the Community Academy in providing adults across Newark with access to quality educational resources so parents like Tqisha Floyd can set an example for their children by prioritizing and committing to their education."

The first workshop, "Know Your Rights," kicked off on Saturday. It is being led by Shekera Shahid, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society, and Zerandrian Norris, a social justice educator.

The four-week workshop will focus on police brutality, the rights of those who are stopped by police and what to do in certain situations involving the police.

"Newark needs more community-based programs to help our residents with issues of health, education and self-improvement," said Councilman Gonzalez. "We are glad that North Star Academy and the Urban League have opened up such a resource."

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