While others talk a good game Ms. McFarlane, a veteran educator and administrator is hip deep in a solution. Her plan was to open a charter school in an economically deprived area and improve education. When she unveiled her plans for her project to financiers, she was told her model was too large, too expensive and failure waiting to happen. She knew the only way to fix the problem was to meet it head on. So she put her money where her mouth is, literally by mortgaging her own home to open Celerity Nascent Charter School. She could’ve chosen an affluent location. Instead she selected an adverse area notorious for poor education standards, South Los Angeles.
Her agenda was to change how children were educated, to offer them choices. “It’s about being able to walk away with a choice. To decide what you want to do whether it’s going to college, trade school or straight into the job market. With choice anything is possible and students are more likely to succeed,” says McFarlane.
Celerity is comprised of approximately 70% African-American and 30% Hispanic students all of which are largely considered ‘at-risk’ students. Celerity has turned the tables on a failing system by scoring a 664 on the Academic Performance Index (API), outperforming the schools it draws most of its students from. Their Average Daily Attendance (ADA) is 98.1% which is unheard of in the school system and Celerity is making it happen in the inner city.
How are they succeeding? “By providing an atmosphere of high expectations, engaging, standards-based accelerated curriculum with challenging learning activities,”
In an area synonymous with educational failure, mellifluous echoes of happy children now ring through the halls. Vielka McFarlane has taken a stand and turned the tides of a failing system. She’s made the notion of change, in an impoverished area a reality. It’s the now blueprint for future Celerity Educational Group charter schools and an example other schools, nationwide should hastily follow.