Savant Preparatory Academy of Business
By Dianne Anderson
Some local kids may look like they’re straight out of angel face modeling school, but actually, they represent the future face of the aspiring Savant Preparatory Academy of Business.
Parents and supporters for the one of a kind public charter school packed the house last week at the San Bernardino Board of Education Office to help the next generation create the next big thing.
The goal is to get the young ones thinking about their bottom line, and in the process, probably teach their parents a thing or two.
Eva Tillman, the co-founder, along with Jeannette Balcazar, and Jea Reese, have been working out their plans for the last year and a half, and they are excited to finally see it come into focus.
Ms. Tillman said ideas around the finance curriculum has been percolating for quite a while. In working in local classrooms with her colleagues, she said they were able to forge relationships with parents who are familiar with their background in education.
“The parents were very interested in finding a quality program,” she said. “I thought, let’s design something different. The parents and community have always been there.”
The curriculum also fills a void.
While there have been great strides in local education, she said the entrepreneurial approach is innovative and needed. It also hasn’t been implemented to any significant degree in the community before.
In her own educational background, Tillman grew up taking GATE classes and pulling honors. Like many of her classmates, even with exposure to some economics classes, she said it is difficult for millennials to understand what it takes to buy their first home or start their own business.
“I feel that I received a quality education, but the one piece that was missing was the financial [aspect],” she said.
If approved, the school, which is located behind San Bernardino High School, is set to open its doors in August. Enrollment packets will be available for parents and attending public charter school is the same process as attending any public school in the district.
As a school of choice, students are also not required to live in the district, and they can receive a transfer. The school is free of charge.
Talking with local kids was also key toward developing the school. Many children are natural entrepreneurs. With a little help, she said the financial lessons they learn today could last a lifetime.
Besides, some students are already hitting the pavement, selling cookies after school every day. She heard one parent talk about how their kid sells enough to buy their own clothes and shoes.
“When I hear that, I’m concerned,” Tillman said. “That’s not a very safe environment out on your own. Let’s provide a safe space to hone in on those skills.”
At this point, the charter framework is already established, and they also have a back-office provider to help navigate the finances and balance the books, which is one reason why some charter schools struggle.
As members of the California Charter Schools Association, she said that the academy can access additional support.
“It’s literally just kind of waiting for their [the school board’s] approval,” said Tillman, who holds a teaching credential and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, San Bernardino.
The academic platform will also encourage students and parents to explore financial concepts, budgeting, investments, and ownership. The school will utilize Bank of America “Your Financial Future” curriculum to help students get comfortable with the financial vocabulary that they can take with them into adulthood.
“We’re starting with the primary grades. We’ll probably break it down a little bit more so that it’s not too heavy for the kids,” she said.
The public hearing last week for the new proposed school brought an outpouring of support. She feels the concept is catching on, especially with parents.
“They were excited for their children to have the opportunity and that we do have these kids’ best interest at heart, and that we’re doing something great for the children. How can you oppose that?” she said.
In the first year, she expects Savant Prep to be able to accommodate 100 students from kindergarten through second grade. Within five years, they anticipate growth to serve 325 students.
They also want parents to have the opportunity to learn about finances alongside their children.
“We’d love to share that information with our parents. That’s part of community growth, and we know that it starts with our kids,” she said.
For more information, see savantprepacademy.com/publichearing.