It’s never too early to start laying the foundation for learning. And the earlier good education begins, the more it can shape a child’s future.
As a nonprofit public charter school system founded in 2003, St. Louis-based Confluence Academies provides a high-quality education for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. One of five University of Missouri Columbia-sponsored campuses — along with its Old North, South City, Confluence Preparatory Academy and Grand Center Arts Academy counterparts — Aspire Academy (formerly known as Confluence Academy-Walnut Park) joined the Confluence Academies family in 2004.
With a staff of 25 and a population of 110 students from pre-kindergarten through second grade, Aspire Academy positions students for success by providing a project-based curriculum that focuses on fundamentals like reading, math, science, technology and art, as well as a wide range of after-school activities. Students enjoy opportunities to participate in Girl Scouts, soccer, flag football, dance and cheer, and tutoring is available at no cost for extra academic support.
Principal Lacqweda Taylor launched her career in education as a second-grade teacher at Aspire Academy in 2005 and has worked at all of Confluence Academies’ elementary campuses as a teacher, counselor and administrator.
“Our Aspire Academy facility consists of two buildings,” she explains. “All of our classrooms are located in the Annex building, while our special classes are held in the main building. We also have two playground areas with ample field space to allow teams to practice for soccer and football.”
After completion of second grade, Aspire Academy students transition to Old North Academy, the next campus up in the Confluence Academies model.
Beyond the classroom, Confluence Academies’ schools pride themselves on the partnerships they form within their communities to ensure that the educational, emotional and social needs of all students are met.
“We currently collaborate with the Boys and Girls Club to provide mentor services to our first- and second-graders, the YMCA to provide swim lessons during our summer session, and BJC Behavioral Health for additional mental health support,” Taylor says. “These partnerships are really the key to our success as a network.”
In an effort to help overcome economic, cultural and geographic hurdles, Aspire Academy teamed up with Affinia Healthcare in 2018 to create a new school-based health center, thereby increasing access to primary medical and behavioral health care. The goal? To give students and families the services they need to manage their own health and well-being, in turn improving attendance and academic achievement. The health center accepts private insurance and Medicaid, but no student is ever turned away because of an inability to pay.
“We hope that with a resource like this conveniently located on one of our campuses, students get needed health services, but also eliminate a barrier to healthcare,” says Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, Confluence CEO. “This collaboration has a direct, positive impact on the entire community.”
For more information about Aspire Academy and other Confluence Academies schools, visit confluenceacademy.org.