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  • What is the motivation for opening PROUD Academy?
    Our founder, Patricia Nicolari, is a part of the LGBTQ+ community and was a teacher and principal. Experiencing harassment firsthand from students, coupled with a school atmosphere where it did not feel safe to “come out,” she was prompted to reflect on how this impacted her ability to be an effective teacher. The stress of being guarded diminished her full potential as an educator. Coming out changed that - it empowered her. To be authentic is life-changing. Years of watching LGBTQ+ youth struggle motivated Patty to open a school focused on creating the safest, most affirming learning environment for students – a space where youth can be their true selves 100% of the time.
  • When does PROUD Academy anticipate opening?
    We are working hard to open PROUD Academy and will do so when we can best meet the needs of our students. In our travels throughout the community, it has become clear that the need for Proud Academy is urgent, especially for transgender and non-binary youth. In response to this need, Proud Academy has put together a leadership team with expertise in opening schools, administration, inclusive curriculums, finance, and law. We are in a network with the four other LGBTQ+ schools in the country, and they are sharing their expertise and offering support. Proud Academy leadership shares the sense of urgency and is working to make this ambitious plan a reality.
  • Do you have a location in mind?
    After searching for the most ideal home for our school, PROUD Academy is excited to partner with The Boys & Girls Club of Ansonia, CT as they've generously offered to rent their space with us. The Boys & Girls Club in Ansonia occupies a beautiful 32,000 square-foot facility equipped with a full-size gymnasium, an outdoor recreation area, spacious classrooms, and a warm, inviting atmosphere that will complement our inclusive blended-learning model. After school programs will also be offered for PROUD Academy students courtesy of The Boys & Girls Club. We have also partnered with the Ansonia Nature & Recreation Center where we will host Live-Learning Labs once a month for our students to enjoy hands-on, practical learning opportunities.
  • Why a private school versus a charter/magnet school?
    Charter/magnet schools are open to all students, however, enrollment is determined by a lottery. Students who are not chosen through this process are put on a waitlist. As a private school, Proud Academy is not bound to this lottery system. Private schools also enjoy a great degree of flexibility and autonomy to create their own ideal of education and community, affording them the greatest ability to not only dream of what school can be but to act upon the dream to create a school as it ought to be.
  • What grades will be offered?
    PROUD Academy will offer grades 7 and 8 in our first year. As we continue to assess the needs of the community, our goal is to expand the grades we offer in future academic years. If you are interested in enrolling, please visit our Enrollment tab to complete our pre-application!* *To complete the pre-application, a non-refundable $100 tuition deposit is required.
  • Will Proud Academy offer after-school clubs and activities?
    Yes! As part of our partnership with The Boys & Girls Club, we are pleased to offer PROUD Academy students opportunities to engage in after school programs through The Boys & Girls Club. We are also exploring offering yoga and mindfulness classes, peer mediation training, youth Stonewall Speaker training, as well as art, music, and theater programs. There is potential for PROUD to partner with organizations that enhance co-curricular programs and we are excited about cultivating potential opportunities for a youth radio talk show and sailing program, for example.
  • How will transportation needs be met?
    In our first year, we will be unable to provide transportation. For subsequent academic years, we are consulting with schools in our network, along with other experts, to develop a transportation plan.
  • Is breakfast and lunch provided?
    We believe that nutritious, delicious food is essential to learning. While students bring their own lunch to school, we are pleased to partner with Haven’s Harvest, a non-profit that provides nutritious foods to other nonprofits on a regular basis.
  • Is there a dress code?
    Wearing clothing that aligns with students’ gender identity is whole-heartedly supported and encouraged. We are planning to have a gender-affirming closet where clothing options are available should a student arrive at school and feel more affirmed by changing into clothes that best reflect their gender identity and expression. There will be a PROUD community dress code with input from the Youth Advisory Council.
  • What will the curriculum entail?
    We are committed to offering an inclusive rigorous curriculum encompassing the holistic developmental needs of adolescents, particularly around the formation and affirmation of their identities. PROUD Academy is the first school in CT to have purchased the LGBTQ+ History Unerased curriculum developed by queer educator, Deb Fowler. We've also purchased the Self-Evident Education program that offers a race-focused curriculum which will be incorporated into our Humanities courses and enhanced by its integration across the scope of our curriculum, including STEM courses. Surveys taken at Pride events highlight that students are eager for a curriculum that is LGBTQ+ and race inclusive. We have a Curriculum Committee comprised of experienced educators with expertise in and passion for inclusive curriculum development. This team stays abreast of the educational landscape to not only ensure the curriculum positions students for the widest access to their college and career interests but also offers them electives that pique their interests and passions.
  • Can students in special education attend PROUD Academy?
    We will engage with our counseling staff to assist students and families in public school systems to add further support in honoring existing IEPs or 504s. As part of our commitment to providing an inclusive curriculum, we will also develop our own individualized support plans for our students without need for documentation.
  • With a teacher shortage how do you anticipate recruiting teachers and staff?
    Proud Academy is a place where students want to be, and this is equally true for teachers, administrators, wellness staff, and more. As word has spread, we have received dozens of inquiries about working at Proud. So far we’ve heard from science, math, music, English, foreign language, and theater teachers as well as administrators, school nurses, trauma specialists, and volunteers that want to be involved with Proud Academy. All of them embrace a safe and affirming educational environment.
  • Wholistic Services
    PROUD Academy will facilitate a team approach to best support your whole family on the journey through their time at PROUD Academy. We aim to provide holistic services that bring together your family, community-based partners, natural support systems, and academic personnel to develop a plan of supports unique to your specific needs.
  • How will bullying and harassment be addressed?
    Many students enrolling in PROUD Academy will have experienced some level of bullying or harassment. A safe and affirming educational environment free from bullying and harassment is of the highest priority and we will establish this as the school culture from day one. We are working with a variety of experts and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive bullying and harassment policy with input from the Youth Advisory Council. We aim to develop a policy that will be a model for other schools around the state.
  • How will Proud Academy handle conflict resolution between students?
    We understand that youth are in a period of growth in intellectual and emotional maturity and sometimes there will be conflicts between students. Our founder, Patty Nicolari, is a trained peer mediator and has a decade of experience in peer mediation. Faculty, staff, and select student leaders will be trained peer mediators and will work with students in conflict to teach them to be active listeners. Peer mediators will establish a safe and open setting for students to resolve conflicts.
  • What is your approach to discipline?
    With so many prospective students wanting to be at Proud Academy to escape the bullying and harassment in their current school, we anticipate that empathy will prevail and all students will treat each other with the dignity and respect they all crave. We believe that traditional models of discipline – suspension and expulsion - are too often used and ineffective. We want every student to thrive in school and that only happens when students are present and actively learning.
  • What safety and security measures will be in place on campus?
    We understand the need for emotional safety as well as physical safety. The Boys & Girls Club of Ansonia is a secure facility equipped with a security system including cameras, alarms, and buzz-in entry. The City of Ansonia is eager to be the first home to PROUD Academy, and as such, we will coordinate with local law enforcement to ensure our students are safe and protected. Faculty and staff will be thoroughly trained on proper safety measures and protocol. We understand the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and are committed to prioritizing safety and security at all times.
  • How will you address mental health and trauma?
    When students feel safe, they grow well academically and emotionally. Recognizing that many students have faced tremendous trauma, PROUD Academy will have a Wellness Suite to provide emotional support and assist students in the development and affirmation of their identities. We aim to equip students the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to excel in school and in life, as lifelong learners and responsible citizens, and as effective leaders within their communities.
  • How much is tuition and are there scholarship opportunities?
    We believe all students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds deserve an equal opportunity to learn in a safe and affirming environment that offers an intellectually and ethically rigorous curriculum. Tuition for the '23-'24 academic year will be $19,900. At this time, we are unable to provide tuition aid or scholarships. We will continue to work diligently throughout the school year to develop financial aid opportunities for the 2024-2025 school year. If you are interested in enrolling, please visit the Enrollment tab and complete our pre-application.* *To complete the pre-application, a non-refundable $100 tuition deposit is required.
  • This all sounds amazing! How do I enroll my child?
    Please visit the Enrollment tab and complete our pre-application!* We will continue to update our website once our formal application has been developed. *To complete the pre-application, a non-refundable $100 tuition deposit is required.
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