Fusion Academy Buckhead Post Re-Grand Opening Reflection

By Robert Stewart, Fusion Buckhead Head of School

After a much-needed Spring break, I had time to reflect on our recent re-grand opening, celebrating two years as a new school community here in the heart of Buckhead. I want to thank everyone who joined us for a day that has literally been years in the making.

 

Recently, Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that one of her proudest moments since being nominated to serve is the letters from young girls who can envision themselves on the court.

Judge Jackson will not be the first woman to serve on the court. However, she will be the first African American woman to be.

We all need role models.

I am starting with Jackson’s story because I understand it.

I can identify with the sentiments of those girls.

I am a product of private but also public schools. My first public school was at an HBCU- Savannah State University. This diverse place taught me so much academically and social-emotionally. This school was my first academic setting where I felt at home and helped land me where I am at today. SSU’s motto is, “You can get anywhere from here.”

I believe that every level of education is a pathway to endless opportunities anywhere.

But along that path, we need to feel like we are welcome.

We need to feel that we are normal.

We need NOT feel different.

I joined Fusion Academy Buckhead not just because I wanted to but also because I felt that leading this school was a calling.

At Fusion, what makes you uniquely you is expected.

Our differences are our commonalities.

At Fusion, we find a way to make students feel comfortable.

Because when they are comfortable –

they become confident.

And when they are confident –

they can and will learn.

And when they learn –

they become self-assured.

And that’s when they flourish.

At Fusion, every person is accepted – and welcomed.

Our model of teachers as mentors – speaks to the privileged role that all teachers play in their students’ lives.

It’s not just because of height that students look up to us!

We are living, breathing examples of what happens when you put the work in.

As teachers, we are the materialization of dreams –

Dreams that are only in their infancy –

Dreams in the minds of our students.

What a gift we are given.

To be that person to help that dream to come to life.

I want to take a moment and recognize our original dream team teachers who helped launch our new school opening from the beginning …

The originals are Jessica Bailey, Brandon Voss, Alex Nguyen, Russell Cambron, and Charli Wakeman. I also want to give a massive shout to our leadership team-Andy Donohue, Sara Grise, Ana Avecedo, Tanya Max, and last but not least, Mariana Cardoso!

For those of you who don’t know, an exceptional woman, Michelle Rose Gilman, founded Fusion in 1989.

A crisis at her school had her tutoring her students with a whole array of needs.

Their needs drove her to create a school.

Fusion Academy was too good a model NOT to replicate.

And since 2010, we’ve been building Fusion Academies.

Today we have 67 campuses in 18 states, plus the District of Columbia

Last year we served more than 5,000 middle and high school students.

In April of 2020, with little fanfare, at one of the most uncertain times in my generation, we opened Fusion Academy Buckhead.

It’s hard for us to think back to what things were like two years ago.

We’ve lost a lot.

We’ve lost family members and friends.

We’ve gained a lot, too.

We gained perspective.

We’ve been reminded of what is important.

Our families, our friends, our greater community – they are important.

We’ve weathered the storm.

Our resilience has been tried and tested, and we are stronger for it.

When I think of what this grand opening was to me –

It’s the recognition that each one of us landed in this space, this Fusion Academy, and have shared a journey

Whether it be to teach or learn

Each one of us is a student in this shared experience of life

And our collective experiences are to be savored and celebrated.

Thank you to each family, student, staff member, professional referrer, and business community member who made today possible. Special thanks to Rick Hamilton of The Buckhead Business Association, our community partner-Denise Sterling, the Executive President of Livable Buckhead, and past-Congressman Kwanza Hall.

 

This evening was a grand day. All because of each of you.

March 25th, 2022, was a day that marked the beginning of our campus being resilient to now, THRIVING! I sincerely thank you all.

Take care,

Robert Stewart
Head of School
Fusion Academy Buckhead

About the Author

Robert Stewart

Head of School

Fusion Academy Buckhead

Robert is a Georgia native and a product of private and public schools. Mr. Stewart attributes his commitment to education to his family’s history of becoming teachers and also takes pride in being a lifelong learner. He recently earned two certifications in School Management and Leadership (CSML) from Harvard Business School. Robert is currently finishing a doctoral program in Executive Business Leadership at The University of Charleston, West Virginia.

Robert has spent his professional life using personal and career experiences to add value to learning communities. His success in education started in the classroom in 2008. For two consecutive years (2011-2013) at Coan Middle School, he obtained the district’s highest student growth percentile. In 2013, Coan Middle School had the highest gains of all traditional middle schools in Atlanta Public Schools. Mr. Stewart was named teacher of the year in 2013. He then taught at Inman Middle School and served as a demonstration classroom teacher for the district. He served various district-level roles, including curriculum writing and serving on the benchmark assessment design team. These experiences led him to be hired as an instructional core content specialist, supporting and supervising multiple schools within the district. Mr. Stewart previously served as the role of assistant principal for almost four years. Last year, he was named elementary assistant principal of the year for Atlanta Public Schools.

Robert enjoys reading HBR magazines, cycling through the city, traveling to anywhere with great weather, and spending time with family during his free time.

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