Consistency and community are critical to educational development. Those are the motivating principles behind Excel Prep, an in-demand charter school group in San Bernardino, California.
Chartered in 2009 with its first campus open in 2010, Excel Prep charter schools offer an excellent learning environment dedicated to helping K – 6 students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Excel Prep stands out for offering a unique model in the charter world, a model that is based in a sense of community. Each campus is limited to 200 hundred students who wear uniforms to help them identify with one another. Teachers spend time with each student on campus daily and also speak with parents on a regular basis. Rules and practices are the same at each campus helping school officials maximize efficiencies as well as recognize patterns and identify issues early. The model has proven to be very successful, and the future is promising.
“I’m just truly excited about what’s about to take place,” says Antonette Sims, founder of Excel Prep. “I feel that from the beginning that there has been this sense of urgency, because I feel like there are a lot of kids falling through the cracks… I think that now we’re in this season that we have the right administration to pull off growth.“
Growth is exactly what is taking place. The school has added three campuses and several hundred students since 2010, evolving from a highly dedicated grassroots team to an organization that attracts top-quality educational professionals. But such rapid expansion has presented its own set of challenges.
“If it hadn’t been for Charter School Capital, we wouldn’t have been able to start this year…. We wouldn’t have had any start-up money… Keeping the doors open is thanks to Charter School Capital,” explains Sims. The charter school funding was a start and the partnership looks promising for the future as well. “l know that we have the system; I know we can duplicate it… So we’re definitely ready to expand.”
In addition to new campuses, Excel Prep is working to grow their program offerings, particularly for those kids who need “extra support.” Food, computer and uniform assistance are all starting to come together so that Excel Prep can enroll more disadvantaged students who require additional services.
“Our goal is to take kids from struggling areas and make sure that they have additional opportunities,” finished Sims. “We’re proud that we’re able to provide these kids with a zeal and a love for school.”