‘We are growing and growing’
Construction for the new Henderson Collegiate facility is only in the clearing stages, but staff said it is time to move forward.
“We’ve been in this small facility, but we are growing and growing,” said Jennifer Robertson, the school’s office manager and transportation supervisor. “I can see it in a lot of things we order but have no place to put it. I want to see more space to make things happen. We will get the opportunity to do so much more.”
A yearlong building project started about two months ago for their new school off Old Epsom Road.
Henderson Collegiate co-founder Eric Sanchez said the treasurer of the board of directors, Stephanie Rogers, and her husband, Cliff, found the 31-acre property and worked with other members of the board of directors to secure it.
The finished structure will include enough space for more than 500 students, a multipurpose room, a kitchen and administrative offices.
The school opened four years ago in trailers on Health Center Road. It has grown from about 100 fourth-grade students to house some 400 in grades four through seven. The school adds a grade each year.
“We’ve known we were going to outgrow this land since the start, since day one,” Sanchez said.
Though excited about the new facility, Sanchez said his main goal remains educating his students.
“The biggest thing is that we continue to help build young men and young ladies, that they are ready for the challenges of being an older teenager and are going to be on track to go to the college of their choice,” he said.
He said in the coming years, teachers, staff and parents will focus on project-based learning and college-level reading and writing.
“We have purchased a lot of technology, and we are ready for our eighth-graders to run with that in every facet of their educational experience, the same way they will be asked to do that in high school and college,” he said.
Henderson Collegiate students have already excelled at the high school level.
On the last day of school, students and parents joined in the school’s cafeteria, where teachers awarded gold medals for all As, perfect attendance and stellar performances on standardized tests.
Math teacher Josh Carson gave gold medals to 25 of his seventh-graders who moved into high school math the second semester and earned college credit.
He said 95 percent of students scored a level three or four — which shows proficiency — on the end-of-grade test.
“I was surprised after reflecting on it,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I always knew that all of them passing was a great possibility.”
Parents see the evidence of hard work, too.
Marolyn Rasheed said she saw the turnaround in all her grandchildren after they left the public school system for Henderson Collegiate.
“I think the school is wonderful,” she said. “They focus on reading and help them improve academically across the board. Students are laser focused, and I really applaud the staff for their work.”
Carlya Burgess said she saw improvements in the structure and motivation her daughter, Kayla Burgess, received after leaving the Warren County School system after third grade.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” she said. “I have enjoyed every minute of it, and I am glad she is here.”
Sanchez said he and his wife and co-founder, Carice Sanchez, want to make sure that Henderson Collegiate remains a collaborative effort that empowers students to learn and have fun.
He said he owes a big thank you to his leadership team for the hard work they have put in so far to advance the curriculum.
“They really guide the culture and the educational experience of our kids, and they are the people that are looking at it every week, reflecting on it on a weekly basis, tightening it every day and making sure that the high expectations that we all talked about at the beginning of the year are being met every day throughout the year,” he said.
Eric Sanchez said he hopes to conduct celebrations for future achievements in the new facility.
“As long as we keep conversing with our students and involving our parents and keep helping students see the end in mind, we will ride the bumps and be successful.”
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