Phoenix Academy Expands for 2013

Aug. 11, 2013 @ 05:27 AM

Phoenix Academy will be bigger and offer more programs when it opens Aug. 19 with 750 students in two buildings.
Plans for the public charter school include a high school with an aviation theme in 2014.
“Competition is what it is all about now,” said High Point businessman Paul Norcross, Phoenix Academy co-founder. “With the growth of charters and vouchers for private school, it is more competitive now and you have to come up with innovative programs and you have to stay ahead of the curve.”   
A second renovated building in Mendenhall Business Park will open to house grades 2 through 6 and there are plans for property surrounding and near the original building. Overall, the school will spend a reported $13 million for upgrades, expansion and property.
Property additions include nine acres near the original building at 4020 Meeting Way.
“We plan an outdoor gym on part of the property,” Norcross said. “When we are finished with that, we’ll have to recruit another 500 students for high school through 10th grade next year.”
The high school will be developed on 43 acres on Clinard Farms Road at Barrow Road. The “Aerotropolis Academy” will offer a curriculum aimed at preparing students for either advanced education or immediate employment in the Triad’s growing aviation industry. The prospect of more skilled workers in the local aviation industry is exciting for many community leaders, Norcross said.
Ed Frye, retired transportation department chairman at Guilford Technical Community College, will lead the aviation program he helped to develop along with the leading Triad aviation businesses. In their junior and senior years, academy students will be able to enroll in the certification courses offered at GTCC at no additional cost. Students would have the ability to go to work in the field, or go on to more advanced study.
“This will work into a dual-diploma program with one track that goes to GTCC for part of the day,” Norcross said, “to work on the associate’s degree.
The Aviation Academy at T.W. Andrews High School offers classes at GTCC toward the FAA certification that employers require.
“But that is more about becoming a pilot,” Norcross said. “Our program is more mechanical. It takes 200 people to get an airplane in the air. We don’t have jobs anymore in the traditional manufacturing areas. We need to train for these jobs.”
The school also will offer recreational programs on a 48-acre horse farm at Walpole Road. Instruction in archery, sailing and marksmanship will be available.
“We will have that built out by October,” Norcross said. “This will be lifelong learning that students can use as they grow.”
With the additions, admissions could become more competitive, Norcross said. Phoenix is tuition-free, publicly-funded and privately managed. The academy uses a lottery to fill out enrollment.
Health care, criminal justice and hospitality management are other growth specialty areas, Norcross said.
“We have the flexibility to do things like that,” he said.
Part of the growth plan is a partnership with two nonprofits. Horsepower Therapeutic Learning Center will provide equestrian programs geared toward developing leadership and literacy skills. Seven Degrees of Change Foundation, founded by Norcross family members, will assume some management functions.
“With the expansion to multiple sites and with as many as 1,500 kids, we need to have the ability to bring in more talent and the mechanism to do that is a separate management unit. Seven Degrees will manage the programs and work with the school foundation,” Norcross said.
Both nonprofits also will offer their own specialty programs for disabled children, veterans and others.

Growth at Phoenix Academy

Staff: 30 new employees
Students: An additional 400 from Guilford and surrounding counties. 
Campus: An additional 90 acres.

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