Q. Is Grand Traverse Academy a private school?
A. Grand Traverse Academy is a public school academy, also called a charter school. There is no tuition, but parents do make an extra commitment when they choose to enroll their children here. They must commit to driving them to and from school each day, pack daily lunches and snacks, attend culminating events and meet with their child's teacher two or three times per year to discuss academic progress. Our operating funds come from the State of Michigan on a per-pupil basis. We receive the same amount per student as other local public schools.
Q. What is a charter school and who holds Grand Traverse Academy accountable?
A. A charter school is actually a public school district authorized through Michigan law and the Department of Education. Two of the major differences between a charter school and a traditional public school are that we have no geographic boundaries and we are purely a school of choice. All of our students are here because their parents chose for them to be here. Like all public schools, we are accountable to the Michigan Department of Education and must abide by all laws, including participating in the state testing program. In addition, we are accountable to Lake Superior State University, which granted our charter. A representative of the university attends each of our school board meetings, reviews all of our documentation (including teacher certification) and makes unannounced visits to check on the quality of our program. Our highest level of accountability is to our customers: our students and their parents. If we do not satisfy our customers, they will not continue their relationship with Grand Traverse Academy.
Q. Why does everyone wear a uniform?
A. At Grand Traverse Academy, we want our focus to be on learning and getting along. Research is very clear in showing that schools with uniforms have fewer disciplinary problems and a greater sense of unity.
Q. Why do you have small, multi-age classrooms?
A. Research has shown that one of the best things schools can do to increase achievement is to reduce class size, especially at the lower grade levels. Relationships are also improved with smaller class sizes. With our multi-age program, students in grades 1-6 stay with the same teacher for two years, and potentially with the same teaching family for all of 1st - 6th grade, providing time for very strong relationships to form. Students are continually challenged academically and not restricted by their grade level.
Q. Do you offer programs for students with special needs?
A. We have programs in place for gifted students, as well as students with special education needs.
Q. You have a reputation for high academic expectations and performance but what about the arts and sports?
A. At Grand Traverse Academy Elementary School, we offer band, music, choir, art and physical education classes. Each class participates in fitness two to four times per week, which includes personal fitness goals and traditional sports and games played in the gymnasium. Upper Elementary students may participate in intramural boys' and girls' basketball and volleyball, and represent Grand Traverse Academy in cross country and track & field through the Grand Traverse Area Youth Athletic League (GTAYAL).
Grand Traverse Academy Secondary School students may participate in band, choir, art, graphic design, drama, yearbook and physical education classes. We also have an established Secondary athletic program that offers cross country, boys' and girls' basketball, girls' volleyball, track & field, cheerleading, equestrian, and co-op softball, baseball, tennis and downhill skiing.
In addition to our regular curriculum, we offer a full complement of enrichment opportunities for all ages, including drama and talent shows, hobby and activity clubs, NJHS, NHS, Builders Club, and Key Club.
Q. What else makes Grand Traverse Academy unique?
A. To complement traditional academics, character traits are modeled by Grand Traverse Academy staff, taught at all grade levels and evaluated periodically. Elementary students are assessed on their display of Optimism, Getting Along, Work Ethic, Responsibility, Respect and Kindness, while Secondary students are evaluated on Caring, Integrity, Interpersonal Communication, Initiative, Optimism and Professional Work Habits. All students receive Character Education report cards periodically throughout the year, and participate in self-assessment.