“Our quote for the week is, ‘Do all things with love, do all things with love,’ ” says Angela Edmond 88C over the intercom. Gently, clearly, Edmond goes on, praising achievements and encouraging efforts. And as she does every morning after the bell, “Miss Angela,” as she is known to the seventy-five students at Atlanta New Century School (ANCS), leaves her listeners with a bilingual goodbye. “Hasta luego—see ya later!”
Across the street on this sunny March Tuesday, whale sharks are awaiting visitors to the world’s largest aquarium, while just blocks away at the New American Shakespeare Tavern, Montagues and Capulets are readying for another night’s performance. And in the century-old building at 300 Luckie Street in the heart of downtown Atlanta, a singular school is working to educate in novel ways.
Indeed, of the more than seventy independent, nonprofit schools in Atlanta, only one can lay claim to a “campus” with a MARTA station, a six-million-gallon fish tank, and a library featuring one of the nation’s foremost collections of African American literature. ANCS’s unique inner-city real estate makes Angela Edmond—president, principal, and head of the school—beam with pride.
“We use all this stuff,” she says, gesturing out the window. “We’re out and about at least twice a week. Atlanta-Fulton County Library is our library, Centennial Park is our playground, the Piedmont Park Conservancy is where we learn about botany. It’s hands-on, experiential learning, and it’s a vibrant experience.”
When Atlanta businessman Cole F. Walker founded ANCS in 1994, he aimed, as he put it, to “break the mold.” He wanted to give working families in metro Atlanta an education option that cut costs by using the city’s wealth of resources. ANCS has remained true to Walker’s vision—accessible, affordable, and utterly integrated into the downtown community. Edmond estimates ANCS tuition is a good 35 percent below that of comparable programs.
But the school has evolved in ways few could have foreseen. And with a major move to a nearby, much bigger building planned for this fall, Edmond has her sights set high.
“We want to have a world-class elementary school with the technology and the ability to link into classrooms all over the world,” she says matter-of-factly. “That’s our vision.” To do that, she says, ANCS needs a global curriculum. “We’re going to implement the International Baccalaureate Program, because we already do a lot of these things anyway. We’ve had kids go to Paideia, Woodward, Pace. . . . And they’re savvy. They’re cosmopolitan. They know about China and India, and they know downtown as well as their parents do.”
If forging relationships is critical to her task, it’s also one of Edmond’s strong suits. With ten years’ experience in New York’s corporate consulting world and a penchant for personal interaction, alliance building comes naturally to her.
And yet, for all Edmond’s charisma and ability, she’s a rather unlikely candidate for the head post at a school most notable for its urban location. “I grew up on a farm in Dublin, Georgia,” she says. “My mom tells me, you’re the most cityfied country girl I ever have seen!”
Edmond had the chance to return to Emory in January, when Provost Earl Lewis met with her to discuss ways the University might support its alumna’s efforts. One way the two agreed on is to bring students in Emory’s MAT program to ANCS for semester-long teaching stints next fall.
Nothing stirs Edmond like talk of the future. As she shows off plans for the school’s new building, her eyes light up, and she hardly can get the words out fast enough. “We’ll have a garage door that opens up onto the playground, and then the media center right here, at the core of everything.
A couple of companies may be able to help us make this state-of-the-art, with smart boards and wireless connections so we can link into satellite feeds. So that someday we’ll be able to say, ‘Okay kids, today we’re going to see a Spanish class in Madrid.’ This just gets me so pumped.”—Pat Adams 08MPH