Thomas Academy celebrates successes to start academic year

October 8, 2019

Thomas Academy Fall Staff Photo

Lake Waccamaw, NC – For the second year in a row, Thomas Academy received a North Carolina Academic Growth Award for meeting expected academic growth.

“We just received notice from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction that for both the 2018 and 2019 academic year we met expected growth,” said Vice President for Education Dr. Tom Simmons. “What that means is that our students achieved state standard growth for two consecutive years. Those growth measurements are meant to be a true challenge so to be able to meet the standard two years in a row is impressive.”

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.”

“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.

The growth statistics show a 74.9 percent growth for Thomas Academy students from the previous year.

“Making expected growth by the state standards is a huge accomplishment for our students,” Simmons said.

According to Academy Director Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw, that growth is a result of the way a Thomas Academy education is structured.

“Thomas Academy is a school of opportunity,” Bradshaw said. “We go where the students are and bring them forward. Not everybody can do what we do. We look for the positive, no matter how small it might seem to someone else, and work forward. We watch the day-to-day interactions in the classroom and find the ways to build for success. We truly have a passion for student success.”

This is true of all students at the school, which allows for the acceleration of those students who are already at or above grade level. One of the ways this is accomplished is through the after school program.

“The first hour of after school is focused on academic tutoring and acceleration activities,” said Bradshaw. “The second hour is activities, whether athletics or extracurricular. After school has become the place to be for students as a place for connection and personal development.”

To make after school a true option, Thomas Academy provides transportation for students to their regular drop off locations.

“We want to make sure that all students have access to the after school program without creating an inconvenience for their families,” said Simmons. “This kind of support has made the partnership between the school and families that much stronger.”

One of the crowning achievements made possible through the after school program was the movement of students away from a formal Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

<span style="font-size: 12pt;>“Last academic year, we had seven students outgrow their IEP,” Bradshaw said. “That is incredible for those students. It is opening so many doors of opportunity that are not available when you have a formal IEP.”

As part of the Thomas Academy education, students are expected to work toward a plan they have worked out with the teachers and staff.

“Our goal for every student is that they are going someplace after they graduate, whether it is work, college or the military,” Bradshaw said. “At Thomas Academy, we encourage our students to dream about their future. But that is just the first step, because we then challenge each student to take action toward achieving that future. This can be an uncomfortable growth process, but we are here to guide them to success.”

Having the individual planning opportunities has been a positive thing for Michael Hopkins’ three daughters at Thomas Academy.

“Each of my daughters have different strengths and weaknesses,” said Hopkins. “Instead of all three being forced to follow the same path, they are each being provided with the opportunities that fit where they are. My oldest had the opportunity to explore a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) camp over the summer because of Thomas Academy and realized that she is really interested in heating and air conditioning work. My middle daughter is enjoying taking online courses that allow her to move at her pace instead of working at the pace of other students. And my youngest has truly discovered a love of drama thanks to the arts program elective. She has been so excited every day to tell us about the latest addition to the work they are doing in that class. And we are seeing a love of education flourish in all three girls.”

While this success path looks different for each student, there are some impressive statistics for the Thomas Academy Class of 2020. During the fall semester, 89 percent of seniors are dually enrolled at Southeastern Community College. This includes certification and degree track programs. That number will climb to 100 percent in the spring semester.

“It is about providing the opportunities for success,” Bradshaw said. “Our teachers are phenomenal in paying attention and listening to what each individual needs for success. They truly care about each student and demonstrate it through their dedication and commitment every day.”

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 in Lake Waccamaw, 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.