Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is STAR Academy?
STAR Academy is a single-site charter, Kindergarten - 6th grade school, located in the city of Memphis. Technology has revolutionized many industries, yet we've only scratched the surface in education. Our team of educators and leaders are creating a new ecosystem for what it means to "do school" where teachers can personalize learning for each student, enabling students to reach their full potential.
2. What are Charter Schools?
Charter schools are partly autonomous. They receive public funding and operate with permissions of state governments & school districts. The charter contract spells out the rules of operation, curriculum and staff responsibilities.
Charter schools operate on a state-standard aligned curricula. However, they have more flexibility on how to implement it. Each state can set up different operating rules for charter schools and their staff. Not all states require charter school teachers to be licensed, for example. However for Tennessee, The Department of Education requires teachers to be licensed or on a licensure track in which teachers can receive a permit to teach while they work toward licensure. Charter schools also do not charge fees to their students. Charter schools are public schools with public funding and, accordingly, do not charge tuition like a comparable private school might.
There are many types of charter schools. Some provide services not available in public schools. Others cater to specific groups of students, such as those with gifted abilities or students with disabilities or special education requirements. In the Shelby County Schools District, charter schools serve about 16,000 students, which is around 17 percent of the student population.
STAR Academy is governed directly by their board of directors with accountability to Shelby County Schools, as their authorizer.
3. What makes STAR unique?
There are many things that make STAR unique, but three things set us apart from other schools: a deeply personalized experience for students and families; exceptional educators; and a relentless focus on improvement toward excellence.
4. How are we funded?
Charter schools are funded like district public schools, we are funded according to enrollment (also called average daily attendance, or ADA), and receive funding from the district and the state according to the number of students attending. STAR is also pursuing philanthropic dollars, which will allow us to enhance our academic and student life program, and provide professional development and incentives for our staff.
5. How is student work assessed?
When framed in the context of growth, feedback inspires children to reflect and reach for continual improvement toward excellence. STAR educators regularly assess progress through individual student work and projects, sharing frequent updates with families throughout the school year. Students develop self-awareness and critical thinking by being part of the assessment process.
6. What is the leadership structure?
Our classrooms are designed for participatory leadership between a lead teacher and educational assistants; and all of our instructional staff is managed and led by our Chief Academic Officer (also known as "principal"). Our operational and strategic functions are entrusted to our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Strategy Officer.
7. How are you using technology?
Most technology is invisible in the classroom. Student-facing technology complements but never replaces the relationship with the teacher. We use technology to superpower our teachers and improve the quality of time spent with each student.
Technology in the classroom varies by program. With younger children technology is used mainly for chronicling students’ work and to provide communication between parents and educators. A younger student might use technology to take a picture of an activity, provide feedback on a project, or create a video for a story they wrote. For older students, technology is integrated throughout their curriculum as appropriate, and they leverage it to augment learning and accomplish their overall goals.
8. How are parents involved at STAR?
Teachers and parents are a team at STAR. They work together to form a deep understanding of each child. Parents are encouraged to provide feedback to teachers to improve their child’s learning trajectory. On a regular basis, parents receive updates regarding student progress and updates from the class. Parents, students, and teachers also meet for in-person conferences to evaluate and improve the learning experience. STAR parents have the opportunity to suggest experiences for inclusion in the curriculum on an ongoing basis and to contribute their own talents to the classroom.
9. Where do students go after STAR for middle school?
After STAR, many of our graduates attend local public and private schools after leaving us. What remains most important-and consistent-is that our students emerge from STAR as independent thinkers, compassionate world citizens, and lifelong learners who possess the academic and interpersonal skills they need to succeed wherever their choices and circumstances take them.
10. Do the scholars wear uniforms?
Yes, all scholars wear khaki pants, red or blue polo shirts with a Star logo, and dress shoes, or sneakers; or khaki skirts, red or blue polo shirts with a Star logo, and dress shoes, or sneakers. On Monday's scholars wear professional dress including a tie, white shirt, and blazer.
11. Is there a tuition charge for scholars who attend Star Academy?
No, all families admitted attend our school free of charge.
12. How is Star Academy connected to Golden Gate Church? Is it a religious school?
Star Academy was founded by and sponsored by a partnership with Golden Gate Development Authorization. All Shelby County charter schools are public, non-profit, and non-religious schools. While Star Academy is location on the campus of Golden Gate Church, the curricula, resources, administrative staff, and academic design are explicitly non-religious.
13. How long are school days and the school year?
Star Academy follows an 8:00am - 3:15am school day, and has an 180-day school year, allowing our scholars to focus on what’s most important: their learning, while also balancing the needs of breaks and mental rejuvenation. Scholars get up to 100 minutes of daily math instruction and over 120 minutes of ELA, giving them considerably more time than their peers with core academic subjects and other enrichment activities.