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Kudos for Great Valley Academy described as model charter school
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Great Valley Academy in Manteca was described as one of the “few (charter school) models that exist” by the Center for Educational Reform.

GVA “demonstrates the power of the ‘Ripple Effect,” reads the online article that ran in conjunction with the observation of National Charter Schools Week in May.

“In its first year, the API score was 800, without test prep. Its kids include high numbers of children with dyslexia, ADD and Autism, yet their students are able to function without academic deficiencies. Great Valley ensures that not only does every child succeed academically, but every class learns to run a business. And there’s still time to be a model for physical fitness and instill strong character in its students. In a short period of time they have been successful that the traditional school district signed a contract with its leaders to implement the program in their schools and they are beginning to work with a country school to do the same.”

GVA which took over the old Manteca Christian School campus on Button Avenue when the charter school, a branch of the Modesto GVA, opened two years ago through the aegis of the New Jerusalem School District in Tracy. New Jerusalem is the smallest school district in San Joaquin County. It is also the sponsor of the innovative Delta Charter School whose main campus is located in Tracy but offers a combination of schoolroom, online, and home-school learning which are also offered by GVA campuses.

During its first year, Great Valley distinguished itself academically by posting an 800 mark in the 2012 STAR testing. It was a significant accomplishment for a school whose charter was denied twice – first by the Manteca Unified School District, and then by the San Joaquin County of Education – before New Jerusalem welcomed the Modesto-based charter school into its district fold.

Principal Russell Howell attributed that first-year success as “the result of a collaborative effort among students, staff, and parents.”

In his e-mail to all the people to whom he piled on the credits for that milestone achievement, Howell stated, “Those of you who receive the Manteca Bulletin likely read the front page article today regarding the school API scores. In case you missed it, of the 20 elementary schools in Manteca Unified, 5 earned an API score of 800 or better; 800 being the California state API target. Manteca Unified over-all API score was 758.”

He added, “This is obviously a very positive beginning for GVA of Manteca. It brings me a great sense of satisfaction to have accomplished this in our first year while maintaining our commitment to developing student character, while emphasizing music, Spanish, and PE, without teaching to the test, and without overwhelming our students with homework.”

At its 2013 graduation, and the second class to graduate, 26 eighth graders received their certificates of promotion to freshman high school.

The publicly funded charter school, which was founded by Modesto optometrist Dr. Eldon Rosenow, currently has an enrollment of 526 students in 22 classes run by a staff of 47 which includes teachers, office personnel and administrative employees headed by Howell. Each grade level, with the exception of the sixth, seventh and eighth grades which have one class each, have multiple classes – four in kindergarten, first grade and second grades; three in third grade; and two in fourth and fifth grades.

Enrollment for the 2013-2014 school years is now closed because all the classes are full. That leaves more than 300 students on the waiting list. GVA students are from San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties with some of them coming from Manteca, Lodi, Stockton, and Lathrop besides Manteca.

The Center for Educational Reform is described as “one of the leading voices on the right that supports charter and vouchers and online schools….”

For the full text of the CER online article about Great Valley Academy and other charter schools in the country that were noted in the story, visit