Thomas Academy receives academic growth award

November 9, 2018 

Lake Waccamaw, NC – Thomas Academy received a North Carolina Academic Growth Award for the 2017-2018 academic year from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

“Academic growth represents an impressive amount of hard work by students and educators,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson wrote in a letter of congratulations to the school. "Again this year, I'm presenting awards for achieving and exceeding expected academic growth."

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website, “Student growth is the amount of academic progress that students make over the course of a grade or class. Students enter grades and courses at different places; some have struggled while some have excelled. Regardless of how they enter a grade or course, students can make progress over the course of the school year.”

“Our student population is different from other schools in the area as the majority of our students come to us significantly below grade level,” said Dr. Tom Simmons, vice president for education. “Making expected growth by the state standards is a huge accomplishment for our students.”

It is an accomplishment set up by the educational plans put in place for each student according to Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw, director at Thomas Academy.

“Thomas Academy is a school of opportunity,” said Bradshaw. “As Director, I look at each student individually and assist in putting a plan in place to assist all needs. Every transcript, every report card, is looked at personally by me. My school counselor’s background has come in handy with assisting the student and parent in planning their future. With the data provided through all these programs, our staff is able to differentiate instruction to best serve each individual student.”

Maintaining a focus on success in this day and age requires the continuous use of data for evaluation. One of the tools used by the school to measure achievement is the Education Value-Added Assessment System, or EVAAS, scores provided by the state. EVAAS is a statistical analysis of student assessment data, such as the EOG and EOC assessments, over time. It provides districts and their schools with growth data to consider, in addition to achievement data. This lens of measuring student learning provides educators with information to help ensure they are meeting the academic needs of individual students.

“Using the EVAAS model, we have shown an increase in our test scores in both the middle school and high school,” Bradshaw said. “Overall test scores for the middle school increased by 15 points collectively. Our high school overall test scores increased by 8 points, showing growth in all but one academic area. Because we have this information, we have been addressing that issue through early intervention this year and expect to see continued growth in the coming year.”

It is the teachers in the classrooms who are responsible for making sure the students are receiving the kind of instruction they need to continue to achieve.

“All of our teachers are either certified or lateral entry in the area they teach,” said Simmons. “Our goal is to provide our students with a top quality education from qualified teachers who truly care about their success. Our teachers are dedicated educators who want to ensure that every student moves beyond their expectations.”

Bradshaw agrees, “Our teachers truly deserve the credit for helping our students succeed. The statement I have heard over and over from the staff is that it is about focusing on student success,” said Bradshaw. “If it means that the teachers are expanding their hours to provide the needed interventions to bring these children to the next level, that is what they are going to do.”

These interventions are no surprise for a school that prides itself on a policy that does not allow the students to fail.

“Our no fail, no expel policy is something that truly sets us apart,” said Simmons. “Many of our students come to us having been given up on by other educational systems. We work with them to make sure they know that we truly care about their education and their success as an individual.”

For more information about Thomas Academy, contact Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw at 910-646-2237 or visit the website


About Thomas Academy

Thomas Academy is a North Carolina Public Charter School that educates middle and high school students. Located on the Lake Waccamaw campus of Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, the academy provides a tailored academic experience to students who are oftentimes in need of a more specialized, integrated curriculum. Thomas Academy was founded on personalization in education, unique offerings and educating through purposeful design. Enrollment is open to any student in grades six through 12.