Washington University hadn’t intended to sponsor another charter school in St. Louis. Its leaders changed their minds when they learned more about the mission and vision behind the region’s first all-girls STEM charter school. Hawthorn Leadership School for Girlsquickly gained support among the university’s STEM faculty as well as administrators committed to enhancing education in the city.
In September, Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls will open its doors for the 2015-2016 school year with 160 students in sixth and seventh grades and 16 full-time employees. Hawthorn’s leaders, some of whom are graduates of all-girl schools, will connect students with their networks to help with educational and professional opportunities in the city’s science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
“Hawthorn will be a vibrant learning community for young women in St. Louis,” school founder Mary Stillman said. “Our focus on STEM will prepare our students for 21st century careers. Hawthorn girls will learn to be leaders in their communities and professions. Our goal is for 100 percent of our graduates to attend college. We are grateful to IFF for sharing in our vision and providing funding that enables us to build out a facility that meets our program’s needs.”
Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls is borrowing $1.5 million from IFF to buy and renovate a former school building property. The building is in a neighborhood that will draw students from three of the highest-need areas identified in an IFF schools study. IFF also participated in the Office of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s charter application review process, along with Washington University and the Missouri Association of Public Charter Schools.
At capacity, Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls will serve nearly 500 students in grades 6-12. As part of its rigorous curriculum, girls will meet daily with a faculty advisor and take after-school and summer programs to strengthen skills. Washington University will help develop curriculum, train teachers, and provide student tutors and mentors.