New Asheville charter high school seeks community input

Here’s the press release from the Appalachian Heritage Academy:

New high school in Asheville run by and for local people

The Appalachian Heritage Academy, a communally governed charter high school to open in downtown Asheville in fall 2014, challenges the stereotype of charter schools as “publicly funded but privately controlled.” AHA, with its focus on integrating regional wisdom and sustainable living skills with core academics, is unique among public and charter schools in being run by and for local citizens. That’s because the mission of AHA is not only to educate students but also to empower community.

Like all charter schools, AHA will be tuition-free and open to anyone in the region. But AHA’s leadership also involves the public in ways that most charter schools don’t. The board actively invites the public to events and recruits potential new board members from socioeconomically and ethnically diverse parts of the community. Their self-created by-laws require that at least two of their twelve board members are parents, and all members live in the local area. The school itself will be governed by Dynamic Governance, using facilitated consensus between interconnected committees of parents, students, teachers, and community stakeholders to make decisions. Shared leadership is a major component of the school curriculum, and because of its small size (maximum of 200 students by 2016), the school will be more flexible to community feedback and change than a larger school can be.

Asheville is touted as an innovative, holistic community based in values of sustainable living, environmental responsibility, arts, self-expression, and Appalachian heritage–and yet our economy of low-skill jobs and out-of-town wealth is not sustainable. AHA’s founders want to help make the Asheville dream a more viable, grounded reality, by creating a curriculum that gives the new generation a sense of place and builds skills in a variety of trades essential for a real community to thrive. Such a community would sustain itself from within through a network of high-skill professionals, farmers, artists, and tradespeople. AHA will actively invest in this community–and encourage its students to invest their futures in it–through partnerships, a local year-long apprenticeship required of all seniors, and classes run by community artists, farmers, and experts. By rooting its core values in the most fundamental ideals of the community whose students attend it, AHA will draw from the diverse heritage of this region to create an intentional, beautiful, and livable heritage for the future.

AHA is always seeking new potential board members, future teachers and employees, and community input. Attend one of their meetings, which are always open to the public, every fourth Thursday at 6:30pm at the FBFC, or find them online at www.AppalachianHeritageAcademy.net. Contact appheritage@gmail.com for more information.


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