Jenna Leahy and Tacey Clayton have an ambitious task. The two teachers are aiming to open their own charter school in Central Phoenix by August of 2014.
Both Leahy and Clayton are under 30, but they've secured a $690,000 grant to open CASA Academy. The charter school will focus on kindergarten through third grade students only.
"We'll serve students from low income communities and we'll be serving kids in kindergarten through third grade, which makes us pretty unique in terms of the schools in this area," said Leahy, the school's founder and Director of Students and Operations.
The duo said they saw a need for a specialized school after working in the public school system.
"We felt like our students were so advanced at the end of the year, but then we sent them to the next grade level, and it was just a toss up. They might get a great teacher that challenges them, but then they might not get a great teacher," said Leahy.
The pair's goal at CASA Academy is to help younger students focus on the future.
"From day one when students enter, they'll be on the path to college. We will have our school decorated so it has college pennants around the campus. So really it's a mentality and mindset that students are encountering from the first day they're there," said Tacey Clayton, the school's Academic Director.
Already, some 70 valley families are signed up to enroll, including two members of the Martinez household.
"I like the ideas they're going to bring though," said Israel Martinez. Two of his children are expected to attend.
"When they start growing up, my goal for them is to get a high education and do something better in the future," he continued.
A final location has not yet been chosen, but the pair hopes to open CASA Academy near 15th Avenue and Maryland.
"We want to be that change. We know we're young but we had incredible results as teachers, and now we want to be that change that we create in that community," said Leahy.
For more information on the school and enrollment, click here.
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