MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minneapolis charter school has gained national attention for its success in narrowing the achievement gap and now it’s earning a reputation for producing future teachers.
Harvest Preparatory School in North Minneapolis opened in 1992, after the success of the SEED Academy preschool.
Today it has expanded into what’s called the Harvest Network of Schools, made up primarily of African-American students, and several of its graduates have come back to teach.
Mariecus Jarvis teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science at Best Academy, which is part of the Harvest Network. Her college degree in biochemistry could have led to a career at a big company, but instead it brought her back to the classrooms where her education started.
She has fond memories of her years as a Harvest Prep student.
“I think it taught me a lot of confidence,” Jarvis said. “It taught me a lot of background of who I am as a black person. I am grateful for that because it allows me to go on and be confident in other settings.”
Twenty years ago, Maya Buckner was a student at Harvest Prep. Today, she has a master’s degree in social work and is on the staff at Best Academy.
“I see myself in all of their faces,” Buckner said. “Especially wearing the same uniforms, using the same language, walking down these hallways. I see myself in each and every one of them. Knowing that they are thinking about going to college inspires me every day to come and be an encouragement to them.”
Isaac Anderson is an assistant teacher who graduated from the University of Madison, where he also played football. As a child, he was a student at Seed Academy and Harvest Prep.
“Growing up it was instilled in us that it takes a village to raise a child,” Anders said. “That’s stuck with me since the first day I walked in this building. From there it’s just instilling that and passing that on to other people and not allowing them to make the same mistakes I did. We call it a walking example.”
The Harvest Network of Schools serve about 1,300 students.
Most are from low-income families and they are achieving some of the state’s highest math and reading proficiency rates for children of color and English Language Learners.
The founder and CEO Eric Mahmoud would like to open more schools in North Minneapolis so that they’re able to serve 2,500 more students in the community. They hope to open more schools in the next ten years, serving kids who are pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.