By Joe Jarosz
February 3, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Northeast’s Scuola Vita Nuova [SVN] and downtown’s Crossroads Academy — two of Kansas City’s leading K-8 charter schools — will merge organizations in July 2017 and open a new high school in August 2018.
The new high school is set to be located near the Kansas City streetcar line and will enable students to enhance their education by engaging in the cultural, artistic and business communities of downtown Kansas City. The new high school will serve up to 600 students between ninth and 12th grades. The building’s size will allow the school to offer a full complement of AP courses and electives, along with sports, music, drama programs and other extra-curricular activities.
In a press release announcing the merger, SVN Principal Nicole Goodman said this high school will fulfill the dreams of their students and their families, “as together we create the educational experiences needed to succeed in the 21st century.” Dean Johnson, co-founder and Executive Director of Crossroads Academy, added that from day one, their goal has been to offer children and their families an education using real-world classrooms in a collaborative learning environment, with a diverse student body.
“We saw a need and set out to fill it, and with these expansions we continue to fulfill that mission,” Johnson said.
Not only will the recently renovated Northeast location be affected by this merger, but it could soon see more students in its hallways, as well. Goodman said the school’s leadership team is discussing ways to double enrollment, thereby serving closer to 400 students.
“There’s a lot going on right now,” Goodman said.
The talks between the two charter schools have been going on for almost a year, Goodman said. She added the leadership team felt a need for students to continue in the same style of education through high school. The merger made sense, she said, because of the two school’s good working relationship.
“If we had decided to do this alone, it would have taken a little longer,” Goodman said.
In addition, Crossroads Academy also announced that it has selected the former United Way of Greater Kansas City headquarters at 11th and Washington Streets as the site of its second elementary school. The new school will be named Quality Hill Academy. The Victorian-era brick building was once a centerpiece of the Quality Hill non-profit campus, but has sat vacant the past few years. The new school will open in August 2016 with 186 students in grades K-3 and grow to 422 students in grades K-8.
“The success of the Crossroads Academy and SVN models has helped educate hundreds of Kansas City-area children,” Tysie McDowell-Ray, Co-Founder and Principal at Crossroads Academy, said. “We are thrilled to now offer the continuation of that education through high school, as we prepare our students to be the future of our communities.”
Scuola Vita Nuova, Crossroads Academy and Quality Hill Academy are tuition-free, charter, public schools. Enrollment applications for the 2016-17 school year are currently being accepted for all three schools. All families residing within the KCPS district boundaries are eligible to attend. Parents are encouraged to visit www.svncharter.org to learn more about Scuola Vita Nuova, and www.crossroadsacademykc.org to learn more about Crossroads Academy and Quality Hill Academy. Scuola Vita Nuova, Crossroads Academy and Quality Hill Academy are sponsored by the University of Central Missouri (UCM).
Founded in 1999 by Judge Charles Shangler, SVN is among Kansas City’s original charter schools. Located in the Historic Northeast, SVN was partially conceived as a continuation of the Northeast Community Center’s long history of educating the neighborhood’s immigrant community. With its high academic expectations, outstanding faculty and arts infused curriculum, SVN quickly became an education pillar in the Northeast.
In 2013, Goodman was recognized as the Missouri Charter School Leader of the Year due to the significant academic gains achieved by SVN’s students under her leadership. SVN refurbished and relocated to the former Don Bosco School in 2014. Today SVN serves 204 students in grades K-8, with more than 100 additional students on its waitlist.
Crossroads Academy was co-founded by Dean Johnson and Tysie McDowell-Ray in 2012, in the heart of downtown Kansas City. The school’s rigorous curriculum and exceptional teachers challenge students to master core learning standards through project-based learning, with an emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills. Crossroads students are well-known downtown, traversing the city to the Central Library, Barney Allis Plaza and other destinations in their extended campus.
Crossroads Academy is the top-rated charter school in Missouri, earning 98.6 percent of its eligible points on the State’s 2015 Annual Performance Report (APR). Today, Crossroads Academy serves 347 students in grades K-8, with more than 100 on the waitlist.
“My commitment to momentum in Kansas City and downtown is exceeded only by my desire to ensure that every kid has more and better opportunities for high-quality education,” Mayor Sly James said. “This announcement from Crossroads Academy and Scuola Vita Nuova is good news on both fronts.”
Goodman echoed the mayor’s excitement, saying she’s glad SVN students will have a real K-12 experience.
“They don’t have to worry about finding the right high school anymore,” Goodman said. “The parents here like the small, family feel we provide and we’ll be able to offer that for four more years now.”