Mission and Vision
Our mission is to develop a strong educational foundation for each student within a caring community using a strengths-based approach and intensive instruction in English language and literacy, academic subjects, and the arts.
Our vision is to ensure that all refugee girls with interrupted schooling have access to the education necessary to pursue their dreams.
Our program is designed specifically to equip recently arrived refugee girls with the academic and social knowledge needed for success in a high school or equivalency program. Many of our students have experienced interruptions and gaps in their formal education and come with limited print literacy experiences. Some are newcomers to school and have had no formal educational experiences before. We are a tuition-free school. Transportation and lunch are provided, thanks to our generous community of supporters. The GVP community includes students, staff, and a large core of committed volunteers. Our student-teacher ratio is very low and every student benefits from individual tutoring provided by volunteers.
GVP students are all young women who share a history of displacement and resettlement, but are still a widely diverse group. We foster a caring environment that values and incorporates the richness of our students’ diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and that nurtures students struggling with the trauma of displacement and war.
Over the past 3 years, GVP has grown from 30 students to 40 students; the program is intentionally kept small to provide individualized instruction and support to all students. GVP students range in age from 11-18. In the 2016-17 school year students come from 15 different countries and speak 17 languages. In addition to currently enrolled students, GVP supports more than 60 alumnae through our mentoring program.
Learners at GVP are part of a growing group of English Language Learners entering middle and secondary schools with interrupted or limited formal education. These students are often unrecognized, under-studied and under-served. A recent report offers valuable insight into the challenges we face as educators teaching these students:
“Adolescent students who are newly arrived and who need to learn English are among the most vulnerable subgroups of English language learners, especially those with gaps in their educational backgrounds. They are held to the same accountability standards as native English speakers while they are just beginning to develop their proficiency in academic English and are simultaneously studying core content areas. With their low levels of literacy in English, these adolescent newcomers are not prepared for secondary level texts and assignments. New to the country and the language, they face acculturation issues too, making engagement with their schools, peers, and teachers challenging. When one considers the likelihood of these students succeeding in traditional school settings, it is difficult to be optimistic”
(Short & Boyson, 2012).
With an approach focused on students’ strengths and resources, we demonstrate how adolescent English Language Learners with limited and interrupted education can be highly successful students and empowered citizens. At GVP, we aim to provide an exemplary model of excellent and equitable education for newcomer refugee learners.
To fulfill our mission and vision, GVP commits itself to the following:
All-female Education—The all-female educational environment empowers our students to take risks, work collaboratively and creatively, ask questions, imagine new paths for their lives, and pursue their dreams. In this safe space, refugee young women grow as leaders and are empowered to reach their potential as students and citizens.
Exemplary Teaching and Learning—Our program is learner-centered and focuses on educating the whole human. It is intensive, integrated, nurturing, and engaging. Our specialized and experienced faculty promotes critical thinking and creativity, and inspires our students to reach their full personal and academic potential. Our students receive integrated instruction in all core academic areas including music and art.
Strengths-based, Holistic Education–We believe that all students come to school with valuable knowledge, experiences, skills, and resources. We draw from and build upon these strengths, as the basis for new learning and growth. We view education as additive rather than subtractive and reject a deficit view of learners. We take a holistic approach to learning, attending to the social, emotional, creative, physical, and academic needs of our students.
Innovation and Excellence—As individuals and as a community, we embrace learning and change, pursue new opportunities and knowledge, and seek continuous improvement. We aim to provide new research and insights into refugee education and literacy instruction for older English Learners.
Good Citizenship, Diversity, and Integrity—We respect the worth and dignity of all individuals and celebrate cultural difference and diversity. We are a caring and collaborative community of learners. We work to make a difference in local and global communities, advocate for our students and families, and are responsible stewards of our resources. We aim for transparency, integrity, and honesty in all activities.
Strong Community—Through our network of teachers, volunteers, families, and community partners, we provide each student with individualized support and extensive experiential learning opportunities. We value social interaction and fun. We encourage loving and supportive relationships among all members of the community. We believe that supportive relationships empower each student to stretch while providing strength for her learning and life journey.
Our Community values
- Lifelong Learning
- Since the 2009-10 school year, GVP’s school and mentoring program have provided more than 175 refugee girls with the educational foundation and support they need to succeed in high school and beyond.
- Over the last three years, GVP’s program has produced excellent academic outcomes for students. 90% of students gained at least 1.8 grade levels in reading and math during each 9-month school year they spend at GVP, as measured by several nationally validated assessment systems.
- 90% of alumnae who complete our program have graduated or are performing successfully in high school or college.
- In the 2016-17 school year, 15 GVP graduates are in college at Georgia Tech, Agnes Scott College, Berry College, and Georgia State University.
- 1 GVP alumna received the Sun Life Rising Star Scholarship in 2013.
- 1 GVP alumna was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship in 2016.