Our Story

New Branches Charter Academy

Our Mission

At New Branches Charter Academy our mission is to provide a positive learning environment, along with a rigorous academic and cultural program where our children learn to become healthy, responsible citizens, life-long learners, and world leaders.

Our Vision

New Branches Charter Academy, in partnership with educators, students, families and community stakeholders, closes the achievement gap and transforms the human culture by developing problem solvers and life-long learners who are fully prepared for high school, college, global economy careers, and world change.

Our Values

The following values are always at the core of what we strive to achieve each day at New Branches Charter Academy:

  • Community - We strive to create a safe environment that fosters inclusiveness and belonging by students, parents, staff, and community stakeholders.
  • Perseverance - We always strive to push ourselves and our students to their fullest potential.
  • Responsibility - Students, parents and staff are respectful to each other. Students learn to understand their responsibilities and take initiative to act upon them in their local, national and world communities.
  • Diversity - We embrace and value working with families with rich cultural and diverse backgrounds. We recognize that immersion in a variety of cultures will prime our students to work and live in a global economy. We celebrate and honor all the perspectives and aspects of every culture and background that creates the fabric of our school culture.
  • Teamwork - We provide a respectful process for open communication, collaboration and the opportunity for everyone to realize their value in our school community.
  • Communication - We will practice healthy, open and candid dialogue between all members of our school community. Healthy dialogue is that which encourages necessary conversations and respects all parties.
  • Stewardship - We ensure that our teaching and operational principles and practices are morally sound, ethical, transparent, respectful, and honest.

Our History

New Branches Charter Academy grew out of a private, non-sectarian school called The Climbing Tree School, which was formed by a small group of parents and teachers who came together with an idea for an innovative type of school. They wished to provide an alternative to the programs and practices of traditional schools. The Climbing Tree School opened in September of 1971 and was approved by the State Board of Education in December of the same year. Twenty-one students attended during the first year. For the next four years, the school operated out of a two-room country school building in Comstock Park. In the spring of 1975 the members of the community voted to sell the Comstock Park facility and relocate within the City of Grand Rapids. After renting space from Saint Francis Xavier School for six years the school facility at 256 Alger St was purchased in 1980. In January of 1994, members of the Climbing Tree community decided to begin working together to form a new charter school. Charter schools, part of the educational reform movement, act as an independent public school, overseen by an authorizing body. Charter schools receive the same per pupil allotment as the local public school districts in which they reside. After many months of work on the charter school application and contract, the New Branches’ charter was authorized by Central Michigan University in August, 1994. It was the third school in Michigan to receive a charter and was the first school to be approved by the State of Michigan. New Branches Charter Academy has been a staple in the Grand Rapids community for 15 years. Starting in the 2006-2007 school year New Branches School began a growth process, adding 1 new classroom each year. We started with the addition of a second Kindergarten room and have moved up a grade each year since. In 2007-2008 New Branches proudly added the specialized 6th Grade Environmental Outreach Program. Following this addition the school began to upgrade the environmental theme through all of our classrooms. In the 2010-11 school year, New Branches moved to a new location at 3662 Poinsettia Ave SE in Grand Rapids, just two miles from our previous destination. In June 0f 2015, the self-governing board of New Branches Charter Academy decided to hire Choice Schools Associates as the academy’s management company. Since Choice’s leadership, New Branches has been branching out and building a sense of community within the school and neighborhood.

Charter Schools

Charter schools extend the privilege of choice to all families. They provide options for parents and students in pursuing their ideal educational experience. Public charter schools are open to all children free of charge who are eligible to attend traditional public schools in the state of Michigan. Charter schools are governed by a local Board of Directors and are required to meet and often exceed the standards of its Authorizer and the State Board of Education.  NBCA’s chartering organization is Central Michigan University.

Charter schools are governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Academy’s Authorizer. Bylaws of the Board of Directors outline its role and responsibilities. Some charter schools employ an education service provider/management company to provide executive leadership and management services. Other charter schools choose to go it alone with the Board and Academy Director.

Children attending charter schools benefit from smaller class sizes, high academic standards, and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Charter schools are organized by a founding group that is passionate about the basic tenets of the curriculum. Enthusiasm for the school is contagious. Board members, staff members, parents, students, and community members are attracted to the charter school because their interests coincide with the charter school’s educational program and special themes.

Charter schools have to be responsive to parents’ concerns because they operate in a free market. Parents literally make the choice to send their children to the magnet or theme school. Parents also typically transport their children to school, which means that parents have a stronger connection and more active communications with the faculty and staff.