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National Heritage Academies Names Founding Principals


MARCH 10, 2014 Contact: Katie Baker 616-929-1103 (W) 517-282-7579 (C)
Dr. Clifford Wallace and Melissa Jones Clarke to Lead New Public Charter Schools
BAKER, La., March 10, 2014—
Dr. Clifford Wallace has been named principal of Advantage Charter Academy, a free public charter school scheduled to open August 2014 in Baker. It is managed by National Heritage Academies (NHA), which operates the NHA sister school Inspire Charter Academy in Baton Rouge.
"It is my honor to serve as founding principal of Advantage Charter Academy," said Wallace. "I am excited to work with the families of Baker to create a positive learning environment for all students."
For the past year, Dr. Wallace has served as principal of Pinnacle Academy in Euclid, Ohio, a sister NHA school. Prior to his leadership within NHA, Wallace served in a variety of educational roles in traditional K-12 schools. He brings more than 19 years of experience to the position, as well as a strong educational background. Wallace received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Hampton University and a master’s degree in education administration, an education specialist, and a Ph.D. in urban education from Cleveland State University.
"My goal as principal of Advantage Charter Academy is to create a strong learning environment where students thrive," said Wallace. "Student success requires many factors: dedicated teachers, focused leadership, and involved parents. Together these factors can prepare our students for success in high school, college, and beyond."
NHA also has named Melissa Jones Clarke principal of Willow Charter Academy, the NHA school opening in Lafayette in August 2014.
"I am thrilled to serve as founding principal of Willow Charter Academy," said Jones Clarke. "It is an honor to serve the families in the Lafayette area and build a culture of high-quality education in our school."
In 2010 Jones Clarke helped open Atlanta Heights Charter School, an NHA sister school in Atlanta, Ga. While serving as founding principal, Jones Clarke helped increase fall to winter student growth by 13.5 percent. She brings more than 19 years of educational experience in a variety of roles to Willow Charter Academy. Jones Clarke received a bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio University, a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from National Louis University, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in urban education and educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
"Our goal is to establish a rich school culture where our scholars have an opportunity to thrive," said Jones Clarke. "Our school culture will embrace each scholar and support them by holding them to high expectations for achievement. Our dedicated staff will focus on using rigorous instructional strategies each day that challenge our scholars to achieve. Willow Charter Academy will embrace and welcome the involvement of our parents and other community members as we all work together to prepare our scholars for academic success."
As NHA schools, Advantage Charter Academy and Willow Charter Academy’s curriculum will be built around a strong emphasis on math, reading, science, and social studies—the foundation for college readiness. The goal is for every student to be on a college bound path before they enter high school.
Both schools will host enrollment information meetings for interested parents in March. Advantage Charter Academy’s meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 19, at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Baker Branch Library. Parents can stay up to date on the school’s Facebook page Charter-Academy/357131624431434, and on Twitter at
The enrollment information meeting for Willow Charter Academy will take place on Tuesday, March 18, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Auditorium, Building C, Clifton Chenier Center. Parents can stay up to date on the school’s Facebook page, and on Twitter at
Advantage Charter Academy and Willow Charter Academy will open in the fall of 2014. Both schools will serve students in grades kindergarten through fifth for the 2014-2015 school year, adding one grade level per year until eighth grade.

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