Monday, November 22, 2010

LEAP, Rutgers, Knight Launch ELRA In Camden

 Dr. Richard L. McCormick, President of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey speaks as Rutgers Camden Chancellor Dr. Wendell Pritchett and LEAP Founder Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago listen.

 The site of the new Early Learning Research Academy.

 LEAP Founder Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago

 Dr. Wendell Pritchett, Chancellor of Rutgers Camden speaks at the event.

It was a glorious morning in our hometown of Camden, NJ this morning and we were happy to be on hand for the groundbreaking of the new John S. and James L. Knight Early Learning Research Academy on the campus of Rutgers University.
We attended this gala event at the invitation of Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, the Rutgers Board of Governors Distingtuished Service Professor and the driving force behind the LEAP Academy University Charter School. The school was created in 1997 as one of 13 inaugural public charter schools in the state of New Jersey.  Originally a K–5 charter school serving 324 students, LEAP has since expanded to serve 780 students grades K–12 and also houses a 90-student preschool program. 
LEAP’s story actually began in 1993, when Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago and the Rutgers Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership developed the concept of an independently governed, public charter school that could improve education and opportunities for the children and families of Camden City. 
In its time LEAP Academy has graduated four senior classes and every year since the first in 2005, LEAP graduates have achieved 100% college acceptance.  The school has earned praise from the state, receiving both the New Jersey Public Charter School ExemplarySchool Award and the 2002-2003 Pioneer Award from NJ Dept. of Education.  
This new facility will mark a move by LEAP, Rutgers and the Knight Foundation into the realm of preschool and early learning. It's a very exciting development and it bodes well for Camden and the entire region.
BTW: We understand that $30 million in state funds are available to eligible charter schools and LEAP would certainly seem to be a worthwhile beneficiary of such funding. New Jersey's Acting Education Commissioner, Rochelle Hendricks was at today's groundbreaking and she spoke highly of LEAP. We also know that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a major booster of charter schools.
We direct the Governor and the Commissioner's attention to LEAP. Here's one program that certainly seems worthy of additional funding.

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