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Second Charter Elementary School opening in heart of downtown KCMO

Crossroads Academy of Kansas City has outgrown their space in their short four years of operation. They recently announced the opening of a second charter school, Quality Hill Academy in the old United Way building in Kansas City, Missouri to accommodate the long waiting list of students.

Quality Hill Academy enrollment is at 90 percent. The building that will house the new academy is rich in history. Built in the 1870’s it began as four individual homes and then in 1910 the homes were joined together to form the Virginia Hotel.

“The building has been vacant for a few years. We looked at a lot of buildings and felt this building was meant to be a school. It has been exciting to see the transformation,” said Lindsay Yates, Quality Hill Academy principal.

According to Yates, the building boasts super classrooms. The third grade classroom is a wide-open room with 1,800 square feet where students and teachers can come together for collaborative learning.

She told Hispanic News that when parents walk through the doors, they gasp, “this is free, wow, and you have buses too. It might feel too good to be true, but we have rethought education and have taken the necessary risks to provide an education for our children that is engaging and rigorous and different for our kids,” said Yates.

As parents learned about Crossroads Academy’s curriculum and their 2-1 teacher-student ratio, they were enticed to deep digger into the schools’ mission.

“We opened in 2012 with 190 students, kindergarten through fifth grade and we now have 350 students in kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Dean Johnson, executive director for Crossroads Academy and Quality Hill Academy.

The Kansas City skyline is changing with a mixture of businesses and homes in downtown. As families move into the downtown area, they need schools close to the neighborhood. Crossroads Academy saw that growth creating opportunities for expansion.

“The growth is incredibly exciting and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Crossroads is willing to rethink school and take a risk. It is hard work – our teachers work really hard here, our students work really hard here, and our families work really hard. It is a community event coming to school every day. I am thrilled that we can afford that opportunity to 186 new kids next year,” said Yates, Quality Hill Academy principal.

According to Johnson and Yates, there are plans for the charter school to open their own high school in 2018 in downtown. As the elementary schools graduate their 8th graders, they want them to flow into the high school.

“We are looking within a two or three block area of the streetcar for the high school location. We want our students to be able to travel around downtown for internships, immerse them in educational opportunities the city offers such as the museums and give them real life education,” said Johnson.

The topic of a new high school in downtown Kansas City is exciting news for parent Dominic Hooper. His son, Anthony is in the 7th grade at Crossroads and they are looking for his future high school.

“To use the word crossroads, we are at a crossroad in looking into my son’s academic future. We are looking at Lincoln Academy or something heavier structured but when we heard they are opening the high school, we are interested. He likes it here and I like the school,” said Hooper.

He attended STEM night, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at the academy with his 7-year-old daughter, Sophia. She was excited to show her father how to make slime.

The first grader took water and added the ingredients to create her science project.

“I am doing science today. The water was liquid and then it turned into this-slime,” she said.

Hooper told Hispanic News that they began home schooling their children and encouraged their children to think outside the box. After homeschooling, his children attended three to four different schools in a short period of time.

“There was bullying at one school, another had inadequate teaching, it just didn’t fit. When we looked at Crossroads, it was an easy decision. We didn’t look at it as a charter but as a new place. My children can expand their horizons here,” he said.

The state of Missouri recognized the charter school as the highest-ranking charter school based on the Missouri Annual Performance Report. The report is a measure of overall performances and gives a district or charter school points for each of several areas, including academics, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rates.

The school’s performance could be influencing parents’ choices to move into the downtown community.

“I think that our school has contributed to the next wave of downtown revitalization. We have families that have chosen to move into the city towards downtown and the school. The students bring new life into downtown,” said Johnson.

Area businesses and city officials welcomed the school that would drive young professionals to live and raise families in the revitalized district, a place where teachers and students step outside the classroom and into the community for their academic life lessons.

“One of the strengths of our school is the kids have access to the rich culture of the city. It creates a setting for real world, experiential learning. We want to replicate that with the second school,” said Johnson.