“We believe students are motivated by including choice in some of their learning.”
The Main Street Academy began with a small group of residents of College Park, East Point, and Hapeville who wanted to bring a high quality educational option to South Fulton. In December of 2006, the TMSA Founding Committee held its first public meeting and worked tirelessly over the next three years to obtain a charter. On May 21, 2009, the Fulton County Board of Education considered TMSA’s charter petition. Busloads of families came to the meeting to support the vote, which turned out in TMSA’s favor. With a new charter in hand, the Founding Committee established TMSA as a 501c3 Non Profit Organization and set about the work of building a school.
Actually, two schools. TMSAs first home was in two red brick schoolhouses, one connected to the United Methodist Church and the other to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Both campuses were on East Main Street in College Park, about half a mile apart. After a national search, the Founding Committee hired Raine Hackler as TMSAs first principal and Virginia Smith as the school’s first school operations manager, and then worked with them to hire the teachers and staff to serve the 600 or so students who registered in the Spring of 2010 to attend TMSA, grades K-6.
After a grueling summer in which volunteers painted classrooms, moved furniture, and built playgrounds, TMSA opened its doors on August 23, 2010. Over the next two years, TMSA grew from 600 to 700 students as it added a seventh and eighth grade. The school’s growth stressed the old schoolhouses. In 2011, TMSA leased the Fellowship Hall from the United Methodist Church and created temporary classrooms there for use when the children were not eating lunch. Other space was appropriated—the faculty/staff break room served as a library and the art room had to be transitioned into a classroom. In 2012, the governing board added portable classrooms to house the Middle School grades. With waiting lists still long for most grades, the search for a permanent facility was on!
TMSA grew academically as well as physically. In 2014, TMSA adopted the Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Proposed and implemented by our teachers, the Renzulli model makes enrichment a part of everyday education, whether it is in bringing experts and artists to speak to students, planning special projects or going on field trips. Teachers also develop special elective classes based on their own interests and expertise. Students in grade bands (K-2; 3-5; 6-8) get to choose from a list of classes that have included “News Crew,” “Yoga and Mindfulness,” “Greek Mythology,” “Archery,” and many others. Also in 2014, TMSA received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and was approved for a five-year extension of its charter by the Fulton County School Board. In 2015, the Georgia Department of Education approved TMSAs charter application for a new five-year term.
In August of 2015, TMSA moved from the two small educational buildings on E. Main Street to the Harriet Tubman/Lakeshore campus. Set in a historic neighborhood in College Park amongst tall oaks and magnolias, the 28 acre campus sports a 110,000 square foot educational building with a media center, art and music rooms, gymnasium, baseball diamond, and track and field.
Today, TMSA is a thriving and dynamic school. We have grown to nearly 900 students. Two of our teachers, Robby Chapman and Karelle Royal, have been selected as Symetra Heroes of the Classroom. Accolades abound. Whether it is stellar performances by our debate team or robotics club, or even TMSA 5th grader Corey Jackson, Jr. winning Michelle Obama’s 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and gaining an invitation to the White House for a State Dinner (his winning recipe, by the way was “Mango-Cango Chicken”), TMSA students are making their mark on the world.