By Ice’es Green
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Global Scholars Academy, formerly known as Union Independent School, is different from traditional schools in many ways. The low student-teacher ratio and specific aim of educating children who wouldn’t normally be able to afford a private school quality education gain attention among educators and community leaders. However, the 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. bell schedule may be the most noticeable difference for students.
Similar charter schools in the Durham area, such as Charter Community School and Healthy Start Academy Charter, have school days which generally begin at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Public school systems around the state follow the same format.
Agatha Brown, Head of School for the academy, thinks that the longer school day is a positive aspect of the school.
“It is a safe and engaging environment that introduces [students] to curriculum and subject matter that they may not be able to be introduced to otherwise,” said Brown. “They are being introduced to life long skills that they can use in the future.”
Throughout the school day, students spend 30 to 40 minutes each on traditional school subjects as well as health and Mandarin Chinese.
But in the afternoon hours, students have extra activities, such as library time, art, drama, and dedicated homework time.
Martina Hicks, finance and business operations director for the academy, feels that the extended bell schedule is necessary for the students’ success.
“If you look at where we want our kids to be, you have to capture it,” said Hicks. “We have to utilize our time the best we can.” An article published by CNN in 2010 supports the claim that student benefit from longer school days. In the article, Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, says that the traditional 180-day school year is too short and that school days are too short. The Global Scholars Academy has a 190-day year while Durham Public School students attend 180 days per year.
“Studies show that an extended day has an effect,” said Hicks. “Students have to be able to keep up with children from across the country.”
Brown says that parents believe the extra hours in school truly enhance their child’s education.
“If a child isn’t as successful as they need to be, it allows that child more time to work on a particular project,” said Brown.
She says that parents also like the longer hours because many are unable to afford after-school childcare. The longer school hours gives them a sense of security and financial relief.
According to Brown, practice and homework are big factors at Global Scholars Academy, and the longer day gives students a chance to receive help from teachers and peers.
“We don’t like to refer to it as ‘extended’,” she said. “It’s extensive.”