Dear Supporters, Families, and Community Members:
Thank you for your interest in and support of St. Louis Voices Academy of Media Arts. We are writing to inform you of the Board of Directors' decision to delay the opening of the school until Fall 2023. We recognize that opening this Fall was quite ambitious, and we worked diligently to meet all benchmarks. With all of our efforts, we believe that a rush to open would not provide the exemplary experience we promised in our early conversations with potential families, community leaders, and early supporters of our work.
This decision to delay provides us time to engage with families deeply, build community partnerships, pilot our media and storytelling program, and hire the best team to implement our vision. All of these actions are critical for a successful launch and were significantly impacted by an accelerated timeline and the Pandemic.
We will take this year to:
- Pilot our key design elements (media and storytelling, real-world inquiry, whole-child development, and progressive learner autonomy) with our target student populations.
- Provide media and storytelling experience for families and educators.
- Continue developing our Board's capacity to drive the school's success effectively.
- Build partnerships that create authentic learning experiences for students.
- Recruit and hire the most qualified staff.
We hope that you understand the Board's decision and will continue to support the launch of St. Louis Voices Academy of Media Arts. Our team will continue to provide learning opportunities and be a resource to families in our community. Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can provide any support.
D. Catchings-Smith, Board Chair
H. Russell-West, EdD, Founder & Executive Director
What does it mean to delay the school launch? St. Louis Voices Academy of Media Arts was authorized to engage in a 5-year contract with the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, starting in the Fall of 2022. A delay means that we work with the Commission to commence the contract in the Fall of 2023.
Why Delay? The Board and Executive Director made an early decision to prioritize children over a quick start. As we moved into Spring and found there are open tasks that impact the quality of education for students, it was important for the Board to make the decision to delay. When we received authorization earlier this year, we knew this was a possibility but wanted to give our best effort to provide quality seats to our city's students immediately. A delay means more time to deeply engage families, develop strong partnerships, and strengthen our educational program components.
What about the families that have already applied? It was a difficult decision, especially considering the families committed to St. Louis Voices Academy of Media Arts. Because we honor those commitments, we will serve as an educational resource for families and continue to provide events and programming throughout the school year.
Will there be a new team? No. Dr. Hollie Russell-West will continue as the Executive Director and work full-time in this position. The Board of Directors will remain intact and continue to grow to full capacity.
What are the benefits of delaying for one year? Being in the community is one of St. Louis Voices Academy's core values. Due to the Pandemic, opportunities to engage in person with community members were limited. This is not how we envisioned our work. We want to recommit to being actively engaged in the community, building relationships and partnerships in support of St. Louis Voices Academy's mission and vision.
What can you do to support St. Louis Voices Academy during the delay?
- Join us for our Founder's Forum to get answers to your questions about what it means to be a founding family.
- Participate in our parent events and sign up your child to participate in our camps/programs.
- Bring your voice into spaces as we discuss exemplary education in our community.
- Spread the word about St. Louis Voices Academy.
The Community can:
- Collaborate with St. Louis Voices Academy to support community projects.
- Volunteer at our parent events.
- Provide feedback on our program.