RALEIGH—A new type of school opened its doors in Wake County Monday. In the Wake Leadership Academies, sixth, seventh, and ninth-graders take classes in a single-gender, all boys or all girls, learning environment.
"I just felt like this would be a great opportunity for my life, an easier way to get into college." said ninth-grader Jjileel Ford, who is one of 150 guys in the inaugural Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy.
Ford said he is looking forward to taking college courses during high school and hopes to become the first person in his family to attend college. He is not alone, as school leaders said about half of the students will be first generation college-bound.
"We will accelerate the high school students in ninth and tenth grade so we can create the space in eleventh and twelfth grade for them to begin taking college courses and advance placement courses," said Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata.
At the Wake Young Women's Leadership Academy, students like Emma Verdi said it is easier to focus on learning and achieving their goals.
"It's a lot quieter,and it's just more calm and you don't really have to be stressed out," said ninth-grader Emma Verdi.
In small classes, teachers said they will be able to work closely with the students and help them develop their leadership skills and guide them toward colleges and careers.
"Growing the girls as leaders and ensuring that they do enter college and become part of the professional network that our state needs," said teacher Karyn Gloden.
While the Leadership Academies currently accommodate grade levels sixth through ninth, they will eventually be available for students grades sixth through twelfth.