Feature story by Faith Burton
Alliance Charter Academy is a one of a kind school. In the days that are to come and the ones that have been, schools in America and even in the world have come close, but have never been what ACA is.
Eleven years ago, I was just a small little girl, shy, and curious. I was the little girl sitting on my Aunt’s lap in the back of the classroom in the school which ACA was born from, Linkup. “I remember how intrigued you were with Devon’s science class when you popped in with me at Linkup” my Aunt, Diana Ferguson said. Linkup eventually faded out and when I was in 2nd grade Alliance Charter Academy was created.
Intended to be family focused and designed for individual needs, Alliance Charter was the perfect fit for my family. I remember walking the halls and being my shy self. I tried to stay invisible to what and who was around me. The whirlwind of posters and colors tacked to the walls, trying to compensate for the dark halls that were Eastham Elementary. Backpacks, blankets, and moms with babies lined the hallway floors. The brisk smell of fresh clay and paint from the art classes I loved and, to the small second grader I was, a loud and intimidating amount of people that filled the cafeteria. All these things and more make what ACA was and, to this day, still is.
My aunt, Diana Ferguson helped administer the grant and watch over the finances for the first year of ACA. I asked her what she liked about the school, and why she believed in it.
“The girls liked it better than traditional schools. The benefit was being able to tailor their education to who they are and how they learned,” Ferguson said.
I LOVED having my Aunt and Cousins at school, they were my “safety net”. My aunt and the fact that my cousins who were three and five years older than me could go to the same school, made my life so much better. When my mom would be in class with my younger brother, and I didn’t have a class I would go into my aunt’s office, get into her secret stash of Cheez-its, and sit under her desk while I ate them. Contentedness would wash over me, and everyone who would come in the office would either not know I’m there or smile a cheesy grin in my direction. They never gave two thoughts to it being weird, or why I wasn’t in class, no, it was just ACA.
In public schools, you are basically a number in the crowd, you probably don’t get all your needs met, you may not get the help you need and there is probably some “not nice people” around you. In ACA you are seen, heard and have value. If you have a need and if there’s any way possible to meet it, it will be met. If you’re struggling, teachers, parents and the students around you will lift you up, bring you along side of them and push forward with you.
As graduation comes closer, I find myself trying to soak in the atmosphere of ACA. The sounds, smells, and most of all the people. Everyone at ACA truly is a family. I’ve grown up with many of them, and I value the time teachers, and parents have put in to my life. When I think about going from a “scheduled” life for the past twelve years, to graduating and being on my own, I get kind of freaked out, but I know everything will work out for the best.
Who knew, eleven years later, that shy, timid, small girl sitting on her Aunt’s lap would grow up to conquer the challenges she faced, change her perspective for the better, and be morphed by Alliance Charter Academy. When you hear someone say that ACA is “Child Centered, Parent Guided, Teacher Supported”, you need to believe it. Teachers are here because they want to be, parents are here because they love the kids, and the students will welcome you with arms wide.