Butler Academy grows larger

Butler Academy Co-Founders Jerome Reyes and Venesa Reyes officially cut the ribbon at the doors of the school’s new middle school wing in a faculty and staff celebration on July 14. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Seventh-grade science teacher Retha Kelly-Horne teaches a first-day lesson in Butler Academy’s new Tuskegee University classroom. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

As 351 enthusiastic scholars poured into Butler Academy’s facility to begin the 2023-24 school year this month, they filled a space some 20,000 square feet larger than it was last year.

“Every year since we first opened our doors in 2020, we have celebrated amazing growth,” said Dr. Je-rome Reyes, president and school co-founder. “This year, it’s natural that our staff and families are excit-ed about being in a school that is 40% larger than it was when we opened 4 years ago. Making it hap-pen was certainly not easy. Even so, we’ve never let our physical expansion overshadow the most im-portant growth that is happening here.

“For this school year, as we’ll do every year until we welcome high school seniors in 2028, we added another grade to the BA Family. This year, it’s Grade 7,” Reyes said. “And with each new year, we inten-tionally widen our view to see new programs and innovations that can help us better position every scholar for academic success.

“With new laboratory spaces for science and engineering, an enlarged full-service kitchen to provide high-quality meals, fresh ideas to increase engagement with our families, and new opportunities to con-nect scholars to our community, our focus on whole-child education continues to center us on what matters most,” Reyes said. 

Specific examples of programmatic growth in 2023-24 include the addition of Honors English and Honors Math in 7th grade, a larger school-wide literacy team, and additional full-time related arts teachers for art, social studies and Mandarin.   

Continuing the school’s practice of naming each classroom after a college or university that is well known for high academic standards and a proven track record for graduating and supporting marginal-ized students, 10 new classroom names were added in the Phase II expansion: Columbia University, Davidson University, Florida International University, Georgetown University, Hampton University, More-house College, Ohio State University, Tuskegee University, the University of Houston, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

In 2022, the first year the school was eligible for a rating by the South Carolina Department of Educa-tion, Butler Academy received the highest rating possible, which is excellent. A member of the South Carolina Public Charter School District, Butler Academy serves students from 13 communities in eight counties and is the only free public charter school in Darlington County. 

Author: Stephan Drew

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