Why an annual fund
By staging an Annual Fund Campaign we can make improvements to our facility, purchase critical educational technology and infrastructure, and provide targeted professional development for our teachers and staff. As we look to the 2020-2021 school year, raising additional funds is more important than ever, as we will likely be offering remote instruction for some portion of the school year, and it will be doubly important that we have reliable technology for staff, as well as students. We are looking for community partners to provide much of the financial support we need, but we are also turning to our always-generous families and friends to help ensure the success of our students and staff during these unprecedented times.
There are a couple of ways you can make your donation:
- Make a one-time donation that will be used toward purchasing technology for student or staff use ($250 covers the cost of a student Chromebook as a reference point).
- Make a recurring donation (for instance, $25 per month for 10 months) that will be used toward purchasing technology for student or staff use.
- Submit a check via mail in the amount of your choosing.
285 South Main Street
Alpharetta, GA 30009
Who we are
Amana Academy is an educational community whose mission is to prepare students for high academic achievement, beyond what they think possible, so they become active contributors to building a better world. Our unique educational model is rooted in the EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) model – a pioneering organization in the world of socially conscious project-based education that pushes kids to apply their learning to projects that bring positive change in their communities. Founded in 2005 as a K-8 public charter school, we now serve 740 children and their families. We are a public charter school authorized by Fulton County and the Georgia Department of Education.
What we do
At Amana, equity is at the heart of what we do. Our student population is one of the most diverse in Georgia, with no majority racial or ethnic group represented. While we are located in North Fulton, 10% of our students drive from south Fulton daily to attend Amana – a commute of more than one hour each way. All of our students, regardless of their background or life circumstances, are prepared for high academic achievement; and, more importantly, they understand that there is more in them than they realize, and they are empowered to use their knowledge for good.
Our kids and teachers rise to the challenge. Students consistently score on par with, if not better than, their peers in other Fulton County Schools (even schools with far lower economically disadvantaged populations) on state standardized tests. We are able to motivate and grow children in a given school year at a faster rate than 99% of students across the state of Georgia. That doesn’t happen by accident, but by intention. Amana has developed a culture where each step taken is measured to ensure equitable, culturally responsive classrooms that meet all students where they are.
The Covid-19 Effect
Amana responded swiftly and effectively to the school closure in March with a virtual learning strategy that was replicated in schools across the country and will be featured in a soon-to-be published report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Public Impact. Despite this, we know that we were working under less-than ideal conditions and that several students lacked the resources they needed to participate virtually. We distributed 70 laptops and 10 wi-fi hotspots to the families who let us know they needed them. However, we know that there are many others who did not reach out. In many cases, students in the same household only had access to a parent’s computer and had to wait until their parent was done with work before they could use it for schoolwork, and then had to share with siblings, which meant more waiting. These students couldn’t participate in live virtual small group sessions, or take the time needed to complete assignments; in short, it is not equitable.
As we look to reopening our doors in the fall, we know school is going to look very different. Depending on the level of the COVID-19 outbreak in August, we could be facing a variety of teaching and learning scenarios for several months. Even if we come back to the building with full enrollment, we could face rolling two-week closures depending on outbreaks in our school community. Our students are successful because we create an environment that pushes them and supports them to be their best; this is simply not possible when some children lack access.
How do we move forward?
We consider these last two months to have been “crisis learning” – effective given the circumstances, but not ideal for long-term learning and growth. We now need to move out of crisis mode and into a new, re-imagined way (or even several different ways) to do school. We feel that, in order to provide a truly equitable learning environment for our students, we must invest in three critical areas – 1:1 technology, social/emotional support for students and teachers, and targeted training for teachers to help hone their virtual instruction skills. For the purposes of our 2020-2021 Annual Campaign, we are focusing on 1:1 technology.
Even when we’re not doing virtual school, as a STEM-certified school, Amana relies heavily on technology for students to do their work. In our traditional school setting, students are required to share technology or bring their own from home because we don’t have enough funding (charters are not included in the district’s SPLOST allocations) to provide a laptop or tablet for every student. In a COVID-19 environment, this will not be permitted. CDC and DPH guidelines recommend that students not share supplies or technology because the virus can live on hard surfaces for up to two or three days. And taking time to disinfect items between uses will just be more time taken away from teaching and learning. And while many of our families have resources to purchase a device for their child, half do not. In order to be truly equitable, we need to increase the number of devices we have by 600.
It is more important than ever, especially in light of recent events in our country, that we continue to conscientiously and radically pursue equitable access to high quality education for our students. We cannot allow lack of access and resources to be an excuse for the educational opportunity gap that persists in our country. We must do better, and we’re looking to our community to partner with us in this important work. With the right tools and resources, we can transform education and in doing so, transform lives.