Khepera Charter School opens separate elementary school in Mt. Airy

In the gymnasium of the St. Therese of the Child Jesus’ campus more than 100 family members, friends and staff convened for Khepera Charter School’s back-to-school event Tuesday night.

This fall, Khepera is created an elementary school (K-5) at St. Therese, 6611 Anderson St.. Khepera’s middle school students (6-8) remain at Khepera’s building at 144 W. Carpenter Lane.

Khepera Charter School is an African-centered academy that provides a reflective curriculum in all content matters except science.

Growing up in the neighborhood, Khepera’s CEO and Founder Baba Charles Highsmith was more than familiar with the site as he had friends that attended the former catholic school and thought it was a great location because of its surrounding community stating “we found a real jewel by being up here.”

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“One of the things I wanted to have for this kids is as close to a suburban environment as possible,” said Highsmith who said some neighborhoods he worked in as an educator forced him to cross his finger each time the children went outside because of violence.

In addition to having green space surrounding the location where the children can cultivate for the greening effort and play, all the classrooms are open with windows and are considered full-size, which was not the case at some of their former locations.

Highsmith said they are occupying the same exact space as the AMY Northwest middle school used before it moved to Roxborough this fall.

During the event, attendees were commended for their attendance citing the importance of parents’ participation throughout the school year, “You can’t do this without good parents no matter what we think we are teaching and you can’t do this and teach it well without good teachers,” said Highsmith. “You can’t do it without good leadership”

The group was also entertained by the school’s Bennu Dancers before the parents were able to visit their children’s classrooms.While it is too early to tell what the future holds for Khepera at the site, Highsmith said it is ideal because it is large enough to build more space if needed.

He expects this year will be filled with multiple fundraisers in order to improve the new campus by including white boards for smart classrooms as well as providing computers for the teachers and staff. He also would like to be able to have each classroom equipped with air conditioning units.

Besides teaching the students about the African culture, Highsmith would also like to expose them to various cultural experiences through trips in order to introduce them to the customs of other people.

“I want these kids to be able to feel confident that they are equal to the task,” said Highsmith. “Equal opportunity does not mean equal end result. That equal end result comes through hard work, preparedness and exposure which lend itself to whether you have equal success.”

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