The National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA)—formerly the National Title I Association—selected ArtSpace Charter School as a 2022 ESEA Distinguished School. The Elementary Secondary Education Act is the largest federally funded pre-college education program in the US, and it acknowledged 55 schools in one of three categories: Category 1: exceptional student performance and academic growth; Category 2: closing the achievement gap between student groups; and Category 3: excellence in serving special populations of students. ArtSpace is one of just 14 schools to win in Category 3. “Since our founding over 20 years ago, the school’s vision statement is to be a ‘national benchmark’ in excellence in education, and it feels like we are becoming just that,” says ArtSpace executive director Dr. Sarena Fuller. “The recognition helps us recruit and retain staff who are also brought into our mission and vision. Hopefully, this can also be a catalyst for us to spread our educational philosophies on a broader scale, helping other schools implement strategies that can reach struggling learners, build community, or spurring innovations that can impact more learners.”
ArtSpace was notified by North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) Federal Programs that its students’ test scores and growth were amongst the top in the state, which made the school eligible for this recognition. “We then completed a robust portfolio, detailing our approach to teaching and learning, school culture and work with educationally disadvantaged students,” says Fuller. “Our portfolio scored in the top two. The top two schools welcomed a site visit from a DPI panel, where they toured the school and interviewed staff, parents and school leadership. The composite scores of the portfolio and site visit were used to select the winner.”
The school announced its win to the community at a staff meeting, surprising staff with confetti cannons and celebratory music. ArtSpace and the other Distinguished Schools were recognized at the National ESEA Conference in early February. “ArtSpace is an inclusive community that focuses on instruction of the whole child,” says Rob Sine, middle school director at ArtSpace. “This designation shows the impact that teaching the curriculum through the arts has on all children, including those who may have learning differences, come from varying backgrounds or just have not had success with other education models. As a school, we will continue to connect with students and families, teach through the arts and focus on student growth using a whole-child approach. This recognition has helped to give us a platform to make real change in public education for all students.”
To learn more, visit ESEAnetwork.org/ds/schools/artspace-charter-school and ArtSpaceCharter.org.