By Gerhard Schneibel

The Fulton County School Board unanimously voted June 12 to approve a charter for Riverwood High School, something Assistant Principal Kari Schrock said is “sort of a public accountability of who we are and the direction that we’re headed.”

Approval of the charter received a majority vote from the faculty and community before it was brought before the school board and state Board of Education, according to Schrock.

Riverwood will still operate under the state-mandated Georgia Performance Standards curriculum, but the charter will allow some flexibility, allowing the school to pursue the distinction of International Baccalaureate World School.

To work toward that goal, Riverwood will cooperate with Ridgeview Charter School to implement the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program for ninth- and 10th-graders.

The cooperation will bring about a seamless curriculum between the schools, and an elementary school may be added to the partnership in the future, Schrock said.

“It’s focusing on the students’ areas of interaction and how the student becomes more the owner of their learning,” she said.

Ridgeview Charter School “is our only direct feeder middle school,” she said.

“The advantage, I think, is we have a common platform upon which all teachers will approach and handle the curriculum in dealing with our students.”

Another goal of the charter is to close a gap in student achievement and raise academic standards at the school through programs offering support to students reading below grade level and enrichment to students who are already performing well. Riverwood also committed itself to using technology to foster a multicultural and international environment.

“We are hoping to revamp and to upgrade the technology that is available here for our students. That’s tangible as far as the computers and the software that’s available in the classroom, all the way through to the resources that teachers have to connect with classrooms throughout the world,” Schrock said.

“Our greatest need is with Spanish speakers. Students who have no or low ed prior to coming to us will have an opportunity to learn literacy in their native language.”

Foreign students with limited knowledge of English will be able to learn material in their own languages so that they’ll be able to perform at their appropriate grade-level when they enter into an English-speaking classroom, Schrock said.

Riverwood also will work to recruit community volunteers and expand its internship programs under its new charter.

“The charter really is going to provide us with what we need to provide the support and structure that the teachers need to give the students what they need,” she said.