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A La Plata pastor wants Charles County children to receive a quality education, albeit one different from the norm in the area.

Rev. Amina Fola-Rose, pastor of Nia Imani Christian Center in La Plata, said that the church will open its newly established school, the Nia Imani Academy of Excellence, for enrollment this Friday. The school represents a dream Fola-Rose said she has worked to see to fruition for a decade.

Before beginning to work as an educator 14 years ago, Fola-Rose said, she worked in the corporate world, where she had a revelation about a simple but meaningful way to make a change for the youth and for the future.

“I switched in because I was at a board meeting ... and they were sitting around lamenting the future of Generation X,” Fola-Rose said. “And I thought, ‘Well, it’s easy to sit in a board room and talk, but what are we doing to make a difference?’”

With that in mind, Fola-Rose said she set out to find a way to provide an alternative form of education for young minds. The newly formed school will serve kindergarten through fifth-graders, and Fola-Rose said the classes will be “looped,” meaning that students who begin with a teacher in kindergarten will have the same teacher by the time they reach fifth grade.

Fola-Rose also said that the school will operate year-round, giving students and faculty six weeks of instruction with two-week breaks in between. As a Christian school, the children also will receive a spiritual education, Fola-Rose said.

“We want to provide that character building,” Fola-Rose said. “We’re concentrated more on the application of what the Bible says more than just the memorization of verses. We’re looking to see the children implement it.”

Fola-Rose said that report cards at the school will be more similar to those in Canadian schools, awarding students separate grades for work ethic and academics. Despite these differences, Fola-Rose said the teachers at the school still will follow the Common Core Curriculum recently adopted by school systems nationwide so they can be eligible for federal Race to the Top funding. Fola-Rose noted, however, that the school is following the curriculum because she believes in it and not to receive the funding.

“I believe our students need the rigor,” Fola-Rose said. “I want them to be competitive in the public arena because we know they won’t be with us forever.”

Fola-Rose said the school’s tuition will be $6,300, plus a $100 application fee, a $200 enrollment fee and a $300 book fee. The cost for enrolling a second child will be $5,700, and the price for each additional child parents choose to enroll will be $5,040.

Charles County commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) said he has spoken with Fola-Rose while she has been undergoing the process of getting the school up and running, and considers her “a brilliant woman and educator.”

“I think that educating our children is extremely important to every parent in our community, and I’ll always maintain my role as an advocate for public education,” Collins said, noting that his children attend public schools in the county. “But there’s an importance for alternatives for parents who don’t view public education as best for their child. She understands that it’s not the best option for every child ... and this should be viewed as something associated with a democracy. ... I commend her approach to providing that for our children. These are people with a total vision.”



To learn more

Nia Imani Academy of Excellence will open for enrollment at 7 p.m. July 19 at the school, 101 Catalpa Drive, Unit 104, La Plata. The school will be for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The event will feature actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymah, who will pose for pictures and sign autographs for a small cost to raise funds for the school. Items from the school’s bookstore also will be for sale. Call 301-392-1848, email niaimaniacademyofexcellence@gmail.com or go to ourniaacademy.com.



lrenner@somdnews.com