Classes back in session: Lake Charles Charter begins 12th year

Published 1:29 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

Lake Charles Charter Academy successfully began its 12th year of operation on Friday.

While the effects of COVID-19 and Hurricanes Laura and Delta on the school were great, great strides have been made to return to normalcy.

“Parents are starving for the connection back to education” said Kathie Istre, Pre-K – 4 Principal “It feels like a revival after the hurricane. Everybody wants to be connected again.”

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Students of LCCA will be walking through a refurbished and expanded front office, eating in an enlarged cafeteria and learning in larger classrooms upstairs. The renovations were supported by ESSER funding as a response to COVID-19, and have been used to meet the needs of LCCA’s growth.

Istre approximated that there would be 1,050 students attending the school this year.

“We’ve come a long way, and our enrollment this year has increased,” she said. “There is a strong interest in the community to get placed here.”

She stated that this year, the school has achieved their highest level of enrollment and their longest wait list.

Marcus Simon, 5-8 Principal, attributes this high demand to choice and the quality of the school’s education. “Parents want to have the option to choose where they send their child,” he explained. “They want to be able to seek out other options that they don’t have to pay for.”

Simon explained that they curate a “public school with a private school feel.”

“We institutie our own mission, vision, core values, and culture that is conducive to learning based on what we believe student’s need to increase their level of student achievement.”

Istre agreed. “Our academic program is really strong.”

Simon believes that the charter school system has surpassed previous public hesitations. “The longer the charter schools stay, I think the confusion and doubt about charter schools goes away, especially whenever you see our performance.”

According to Istre, LCCA’s scores are “back to where they were pre-COVID”

Istre and Simon are proud of the teaching methods of LCCA. “Our kids are looked at not just for academics, but for the whole child,” said Istre,

Simon explained that their method of teaching is well-rounded. “It’s a holistic approach to educating students,” he said. “We are developing them from the inside out, intrinsically versus extrinsically”

LCCA is a “Leader and Me” school, meaning they teach students the 7 habits of highly effective people. “Our kids are raised in these habits,” said Istre

Simon continued, “We’re just really focused on maximizing the potential of our students and finding something that motivates them to want to learn and achieve.”

They achieve this through strong extracurricular activities, goal setting and tracking, a strong art program, and social emotional learning.

Social emotional learning aims to strengthen a student’s social and emotional skills. LCCA does this through their “Leadership Block,” a dedicated time for social and emotional learning.  “They really take time to be with the students in a non-academic way that deals with their emotions, goals settings, and celebrations of that.”

Through social emotional learning, students are able to become more well-balanced people. “Science, Social Studies, and Math are great, but you also have to incorporate teaching students how to socialize and manage their emotions,” said Simon. “It’s important to bring positive choices to bring about positive results”

Istre and Simon are also proud of their African-American Studies course. “It’s not a class that is offered at a lot of places,” said Simon“Students from diverse backgrounds getting a chance to learn about diversity and about the history of African-Americans in our country is something that we really have taken a lot of pride in.”

This class is taught by Sonja Davis, 2023 Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year.

This is the first full year that LCAA has had co-principals. “We’re excited about the style of leadership,” said Simon. “It’s great to continue the mission and vision of the school together.”

They want staff, parents, and students to know that while they run different sections of the school, they are still united in their mission. Simon assured, “We’re still one big, happy family.”

This family extends from the staff to the students and parents, and is a large reason that students continue to attend LCCA. “They know we love our kids, we’re a family,” stated Istre. “They come in Pre-K and they stay all the way through 8th grade, so we have families and families that are raised here.”