George Washington Academy accolades result in congressional visitor

 

ST. GEORGE — Fresh off the recent recognition as a top performing charter school by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, George Washington Academy was further honored Friday morning by a visit from Utah Congressman Chris Stewart.

Congressman Chris Stewart took a tour of the George Washington Academy which was recently named as "one of the top performing charter schools" by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Congressman Chris Stewart took a tour of George Washington Academy, which was recently named as one of the top performing charter schools by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

To kick off the visit, Stewart was given a history of the school by Executive Director Anya Yeager. Yeager explained that the school began humbly as several modular buildings but has since grown to be one of the largest schools in the county, with over 1,000 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. The school’s primary focus is high-standard academics.

After the introduction, Stewart was given a tour of the school. He was taken to the library with its lavishly painted murals and also visited several classrooms. In one class, students sang a patriotic song and gave Stewart handwritten cards. The fifth grade students recited the Gettysburg Address in its entirety, and the eighth grade class delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

After the tour, Stewart said that visiting schools such as the George Washington Academy was an enjoyable aspect of his job.

“We love going to schools,” Stewart said. “It’s fun to meet with the kids, fun to meet with the educators. Education is a very important part of what we do, and as we look to our future, we’ve got to get that right. It’s something we try to do as often as we can.”

The visit to the school left Stewart impressed.

“It’s a beautiful school, great people, great kids,” Stewart said.

Charter schools have a very important role to play in the community, he said, by allowing choices to families that might not otherwise be available in a standard public school setting.


Read more: Primer on public charter schools in Utah


Congressman Chris Stewart took a tour of the George Washington Academy which was recently named as "one of the top performing charter schools" by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Congressman Chris Stewart took a tour of George Washington Academy, which was recently named as one of the top performing charter schools by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

Surrounded by educators in his family for most of his life, Stewart said George Washington Academy is a place where students, their families and the faculty can count their blessings. Not every student in the nation is given the opportunities available to the children who attend the academy, and that is something to be grateful for, he said.

It is important that decisions about the Utah school system and individual schools remain under local control, he said. Every opportunity to relinquish control towards the local level should be taken. This community-level administration of schools is embedded in our country’s historical roots, going all the way back to Jamestown, he said, and we should honor that heritage.

Stewart’s visit came about as a direct result of the proclamation by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, Yeager said.

“We were informed that we were identified as a top performing charter school, and as such, they had contacted the congressman and asked him to visit St. George and our academy,” she said.

It was a proud moment for Yeager personally and professionally. She said:

I have been at George Washington Academy for 9 of its 10 years, and I’ve watched it go from a very tiny school where we began in portables (buildings) to the beautiful facility you see today. We have countless, very dedicated and hardworking teachers and amazingly involved parents and hardworking students at our school, and it means the world to us that we are thought well of and that we did receive that accolade.

The hope for the future is for all charter schools to be seen less as competition to regular public schools, Yeager said, and more as simply another option for students and families. She added that George Washington Academy is not for everyone, but for those who choose to attend the school, it fills a critical and vital role in education.

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Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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