Ivy Prep founder announces school's Norcross address

LAWRENCEVILLE - While members of Ivy Preparatory Academy's inaugural class participated Saturday in their first school activity, parents gathered to learn important details about their daughters' new school - such as exactly where the campus will be located.

Nina Gilbert, the head of the all-girls state chartered special school, said Ivy Prep will be located at 3705 Engineering Drive in Norcross, in a technology park just down the street from Norcross High School and Wesleyan School.

"We knew we wanted something better than a modular in a parking lot," Gilbert told the parents, who cheered as the location was unveiled. "We want the very best, and what was given to use was the very best."

The campus contains two three-story, 23,000-square-foot buildings. The school, opening with 120 to 130 sixth-grade girls, will be housed in one of the buildings this year, but Gilbert said the extra space will allow for growth as Ivy Prep adds seventh through 12th grades in subsequent years.

Gilbert thanked the parents for their patience and for enrolling their girls in a school with no track record and, until Saturday, no known address.

Many representatives from companies partnering with the public charter school also spoke at Saturday's meeting.

Donna Whiting of Georgia Tech's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing told parents the college is helping develop student enrichment activities such as tutoring and mentoring. The college will also help Ivy Prep develop activities to teach students about engineering and robotics.

Kathy Armstrong of FOSS (Full Option Science System) said the company, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, will provide course materials for interactive science classes.

Bill Realbuto of Key Music Center in Norcross said his company is helping design the school's music curriculum. Students will learn about rhythm, reading music and audio engineering, he said.

Zola Shannon of Atlanta-based GOAL said the organization will help the school address the development and well-being of girls with its curriculum of 36 activities that address topics such as building healthy relationships.

But before classes begin this August, the school's staff will spend the summer visiting successful charter schools throughout the country, Gilbert said. She said she wants the teachers and administrators to see the best practices in action.

And the activity in which the girls were participating? It was a test.

Gilbert said the results will be used to determine where each girl is academically, how the school can meet the individual and collective needs of the students and how to best map the curriculum.

"We want to make sure your daughters have the best academic experience ever," she said.