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New charter school selects headmaster

pic drobertsonThe Shelby Star
Jessica Pickens

Pinnacle Classical Academy has its first headmaster.

Danielle Robertson was introduced Friday as the new administrator for Cleveland County’s first charter school.

“I’m ready to hire a quality staff that will help us reach our dreams,” Robertson said. “I look forward to building up our charter school so our students can have top, 21st century learning.”

Robertson has been an assistant elementary education professor at Gardner-Webb University since 2010. Her contract with Gardner-Webb will end in May.

When her contract is complete, Robertson will assist in the teacher hiring process at Pinnacle.

The school will employ about 60 full-time and 15 part-time faculty and staff members.

Prior to working at Gardner-Webb, she was an assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and taught elementary school for 12 years.

Earlier in March, Pinnacle was awarded its full charter.

The school will have a similar curriculum to Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and will have an International Baccalaureate (IB) program when high school grades are added in coming years, Robertson said.

The school expects to open in August with 308 students, 22 children per classroom, said Pinnacle Classical Academy School Board Chairwoman Debbie Clary. The school will add grades each year until there is a 12th grade class.

“I’m humbled and excited,” Robertson said. “I’m well reminded that it isn’t me who will make this an excellent school, it will be all the students who attend that will make it great.”

Pinnacle Classical Academy's opening location will be in the old Hallelujah Acres, 900 S. Post Road in Shelby.

New charter school selects headmaster was originally published in The Shelby Star on Friday, March 29, 2013. Reach reporter Jessica Pickens at 704-669-3332 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow on Twitter at @StarJPickens.

Lottery for future charter school?

pic townhallThe Shelby Star
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Leaders overseeing the organization of Cleveland County’s first charter school approved a lottery system Sunday that will help determine which applicants will attend the new school when it opens this August.

Pinnacle Classical Academy will approve 308 total students – kindergarteners through sixth-graders – for the 2013-14 calendar year.

The lottery process will only take place if the school receives more initial applications than the allotted student enrollment.

School leaders expect nearly 400 student applicants.

"Our biggest concern is disappointed parents,” said Debbie Clary, the academy’s board chairwoman and a former state senator who represented Cleveland County. “It’s disappointing we can’t accept every child that applies."

Sixteen of the 308 slots have been reserved for potential students with parents on the academy’s board members and teachers.

The reserved slots for school administration and board members were approved 4-1 at a Sunday meeting of the Pinnacle school board.

"It’s the right thing to do for our employees," Clary said of the reserved slots. "If they wish to have their child at the school, they should be able to."

The academy won’t hire any teachers or teacher assistants until after the lottery is complete, Clary said.

The school plans to employ 14 teachers. It’s still unknown how many teacher assistants will be hired, Clary said.

How does the lottery work?

The lottery system is based on numbers, similar to a Bingo game.

Student applicants will each receive a number. If that number is pulled, parents will be notified via mail.

Parents have 10 days to notify the school of their interest in their student attending the school.

Any available spaces, from the lottery or slots meant for children of teachers or board members, will be filled from a waiting list.

"We have to have full enrollment to be successful," said Wes Westmoreland, vice chairman of the school’s board of directors.

So far, the board has received nearly 400 letters of intent from parents interested in enrolling their children.

With 308 student slots available and 16 of those reserved for children of administrators and teachers, 292 spaces will remain for public children who must be North Carolina residents to attend the school.

School moving toward opening

More than 150 parents and their children attended a Pinnacle town hall meeting Saturday.

Seeing Pinnacle grow from an idea to a future school has been humbling for Clary.

"To watch these parents that have been with us… and now they’re filling out the real application feels pretty good," she said.

The academy plans to open its doors this August in the former Hallelujah Acres store site on South Post Road while a permanent location is built. The school will then relocate to a 56-acre permanent location on Joe’s Lake Road.

Parents can begin filling out initial applications Tuesday. All initial applications will be accepted until 4 p.m. April 5.

The board plans to announce the academy’s headmaster in April, Clary said.

Lottery for future charter school? was originally published in The Shelby Star on Sunday, March 10, 2013. Reach reporter Alicia Banks at 704-669-3338, email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow on Twitter @TheStarAlicia.