Christina Womble jokes that there are so many educators in her family, they could start their own school.
Her mother taught English, her sister teaches math and she has numerous aunts, uncles and cousins who cover all types of subjects. This self-described “full-service operation” even has a school nurse in the mix.
Because of her family’s dedication to education, Womble knew right away she wanted to be a teacher, Soon, she will put her own longtime commitment to education to good use by helping open her first school – Pine Springs Preparatory Academy. She is the head of school of the only charter school in Holly Springs.
The tuition-free public charter school would be one of the first in southwestern Wake County to serve elementary school-aged children. Southern Wake Academy in Fuquay-Varina serves children in grades 6 through 12.
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Pine Springs is expected to open August 2017 with 490 students in kindergarten through sixth grades. A grade level will be added over the next two years until the school serves 600 K-8 students in the 2019-20 school year.
Leaders say they have yet to break ground on the $11 million, 44,000-square-foot building at 190 Rosewood Centre Drive, where the school will be located, but Womble said there aren’t concerns that it won’t be completed in time.
An information session about Pine Springs is Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at Triangle Community Church.
Peak Charter Academy, another charter school, also is expected to open August 2017 in Apex and will eventually serve K-8 students. The school will host an information meeting at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at Hope Chapel at 6175 Old Jenks Road in Apex.
Pine Springs Preparatory Academy will use the Core Knowledge curriculum. The Core Knowledge Sequence outlines the content that every child should learn in language arts and literature, history and geography, mathematics, science, music and the visual arts, Womble said.
Fine arts and physical activities, including options for dance and martial arts, will be integrated into the program. Pine Springs also plans to use Singapore math.
Womble said one of the benefits of this program is its emphasis on technology.
“With the world we live in, we’ve got to equip students to be able to make good choices and be prepared for a very changing world,” Womble said. “With the information age that we live in, information is so accessible to students but we’ve got to be able to teach them the soft skills and to be able to think critically and to be able to set goals for themselves.”
Applications will be accepted starting Nov. 1. An enrollment lottery will be held if more applications are received than seats available. The school is now accepting letters of interest.
Gregg Sinders, a member of the school’s board of directors, said they are expecting more than 1,000 applications for the 490 available seats. He added that the new school would provide even more educational choices for a growing area.
“There’s probably 30 studies across the country that show where competition exists, it produces better educational outcomes in all the systems,” he said.
Although it’s Womble’s first time getting a school off the ground, it is not her first time leading one.
Womble, a Lillington native, started her career in Carteret County Schools before returning home and teaching at the high school level in Harnett County. She later served as assistant principal and principal in the Lee County School District.
“I think my greatest love was obviously the kids, but also their excitement, their zest for life and joy of learning new things,” she said. “When they give you that look in the eye like, ‘I got it.’ ”
Womble, a product of the Harnett County School System, loves the feeling of family and camaraderie in schools and wants to give students an experience similar to the one she had.
“The school experience I had was full of supportive, loving teachers that came to my ball games after school and I saw in church and was very much a part of my life, not just 8 to 3,” she said. “I knew they were invested in me and they cared about me and they challenged me, engaged me and pushed me to be my best.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon
▪ Pine Springs Preparatory Academy will host an information session at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Triangle Community Church at 4216 Kildaire Farm Road. pinespringsprep.org or facebook.com/pinespringsprepacademy
▪ Peak Charter Academy will host an enrollment information meeting at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at Hope Chapel at 6175 Old Jenks Road in Apex. Open enrollment has begun. nhaschools.com/schools/peak or facebook.com/PeakCharterAcademy