Crossroads Academy, founded five years ago to be downtown’s school and a place where students utilize the city as their outside classroom, has been named the best charter school in Missouri for 2017.
The Missouri Charter Public School Association named Crossroads its Charter School of the Year. The organization represents 68 charter schools across the state.
“Crossroads Charter Schools truly exemplifies the characteristics of a high quality public school with a compassionate and caring staff, excellent academic performance record, strong community ties and talented leadership,” Douglas Thaman, executive director of the state association, said in a statement.
The honor validates the vision of Dean Johnson and Tysie McDowell-Ray who co-founded the charter school in a former office building at 1015 Central St. in 2012.
It has grown from 190 kindergarten through fifth graders at the beginning to what is now a K-12 program with 687 students.
Crossroads Academy has expanded into a former Quality Hill mansion at 1080 Washington to accommodate more elementary students, kindergarten through fourth, and opened its high school this year in leased space at Commerce Tower.
The students have become a new layer of a revitalized downtown community, running lemonade stands for fundraisers, walking to the Downtown Public Library for study, the Folly Theater for performances or the Barney Allis Plaza for gym class.
“Our field trips downtown opened my eyes to the multitude of career options that were previously unknown to me,” said high schooler Imani Berry in a statement. “This has broadened by perspective of the world…with education, dreams can become reality.”
McDowell-Ray, chief academic officer, added in a statement from the association: “It’s our goal that Crossroads graduates are well-rounded, love learning, develop their full potential, are exposed to the many cultural resources of our dynamic city and dream big for the future.”
Johnson, the executive director, credited the staff for its work making Crossroads the top charter school in the state.
“It comes down to the teachers and staff we’ve been able to hire,” he said. “That’s the backbone of any great school.
“Tysie and the principals have done a great job of creating a learning environment and culture where great teachers want to work.”
The Crossroads Academy is currently searching for a permanent home for its high school. It has a two-year lease at Commerce Tower. Last week, it experienced a setback when the property it had hoped to use, the historic Attucks School in the 18th & Vine Jazz District, was awarded to another group.
“They’re are several other properties out there we’ve explored and we’ll start circling back to some of those,” Johnson said.