The mission of Tessera Hall Academy is to educate and empower young women from diverse backgrounds so they can achieve success in the classroom and in the community. Tessera Hall will offer young women a challenging and engaging college-preparatory curriculum in a nurturing single-gender environment. Students will be empowered to become leaders through a rich community service program and project-based learning initiatives that link the classroom to the global society.
Tessera Hall is being spearheaded by alumnae and friends of St. Elizabeth Academy, which closed after educating young women for 131 years in the City of St. Louis. The closure stemmed from financial constraints on many students' families who simply could no longer afford a private education. Many of the values that defined St. Elizabeth Academy - academic excellence, diversity and leadership - will also characterize Tessera Hall.
Key Benefits to the Community
- Free, high quality public education option for girls in South St. Louis.
While educational opportunities have improved in St. Louis City in the last ten years, there is still a significant stigma around "city schools." Many young families leave the city and relocate to St. Louis County in order to pursue excellent, free public education options. This pattern continues to hurt the rich diversity of the city and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. With a growing number of quality public and charter elementary school options, Tessera Hall will offer a high-quality middle and high school option. This will encourage more families to reside in St. Louis City, with significant benefits to sustain its tax base and support local businesses. In addition, Tessera Hall will provide a new option for families in the City who are currently planning to send their daughters to expensive private all-girls schools. With a high quality, tuition-free education available in their own neighborhood, families will save tens of thousands of dollars which can be applied towards college tuition.
- Student volunteer assistance at local nonprofit organizations.
Dozens of local nonprofit organizations are headquartered in Tessera Hall's footprint, and Tessera Hall intends to partner with many of these organizations to providing a steady supply of student volunteers for ongoing and one-time projects.
- Female role models for younger girls in the neighborhood.
Tessera Hall students will be seen as leaders and role models across the South St. Louis community. They will wear their uniforms with pride, complete outreach to younger female students, and set a new standard for fostering diverse friendships.
Key Benefits to Students
- Strength through diversity.
South St. Louis City is perhaps the most racially and socioeconomically diverse area of the greater metropolitan region. In the last five years, several studies have been published showing significant benefits to students who attend school in these types of diverse settings. Tessera Hall will be the only all-girls school in the metro area whose students reap the benefits of this exceptional environment.
- Preparation for college and career.
Tessera Hall's challenging STEAM curriculum will provide a well-rounded education to its students, ensuring they are prepared for a wide variety of career paths. All Tessera Hall students will be equipped and encouraged to attend the college of their choice, with a counseling team supporting them in preparation for college entrance exams, college applications and financial aid applications.
- Empowering community leaders.
Tessera Hall is committed to ensuring that its rigorous academic curriculum is also engaging and culturally relevant to students. Through lectures, computer learning and fiction and non-fiction texts, students and teachers will engage in thought-provoking discussions about current affairs and global issues. They will build critical thinking skills through collaborative work and project-based learning that link the classroom to the larger world. Students will build confidence, curiosity and passion around issues affecting their day-to-day lives, preparing them to be informed and active citizens.
- Enrichment through service.
Students at all grade levels will be required to fulfill a certain number of volunteer hours in the community each year. Through this service, students will grow their leadership in a practical setting, explore personal passions and give back to a community that is investing in their education.
- Fostering a lifelong love of learning.
Tessera Hall plans to build a safe, empowering and fun atmosphere for all students to learn. Differentiated instructional models will ensure that students with all learning styles can thrive at Tessera Hall. Students will build strong relationships with peers and teachers and will have the space to exercise their individuality and creativity. As a result, Tessera Hall students will be eager to come to school and grow as learners and leaders.
Charter School Parameters
With a planned opening in August 2017, Tessera Hall will enroll up to 100 sixth and 100 seventh graders from South St. Louis City. Each year, one grade will be added until the school serves grades 6 through 12. Tessera Hall is a Missouri charter school, a public school that operates with state funds but independently of any public school district. Charter schools partner with and receive guidance and oversight from sponsor organizations that ensure quality programs are created and taught. Tessera Hall's sponsor is the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are nonsectarian, do not charge tuition or fees, and may not discriminate in their enrollment or in educational process.
Opening Tessera Hall Academy
Currently, Tessera Hall's founders are actively seeking a building in South St. Louis City to house the school. They want to locate a facility that is attractive, conducive to learning, secure, and easily accessible by public transportation. Ideally, the facility will have ample parking and green space. The cost of the building and renovations as well as all other start-up costs are borne by the charter school, as mandated by Missouri law. These costs include:
- Outreach to the community informing residents about the school and student recruitment.
- Hiring of a principal in early 2017 to develop curriculum and hire staff.
- Purchase of furniture, books, educational materials and software, and supplies to furnish the building.
- Implementation of office functions, accounting systems, and student data collection/reporting systems.
- Acquisition of and installation of computers, data systems, networks, and telephones.
Thanks to generous support, Tessera Hall has already made initial investments in classroom technology, a science lab and a library.
Making an Investment
Education is an investment - in each individual student, in the character and economic health of the community, and in the global society. We invite you to partner with Tessera Hall Academy as we embark on a new educational journey. The cost of a quality student education will exceed public funds the school receives. After opening, charter schools receive public reimbursements that cover approximately 75 percent of annual operating costs. Tessera Hall's initial fundraising goal of $1.5 million will cover start-up costs, the gap in funding for year one, and initial funding for future expansion. Detailed budget projections are available upon request.
Tessera Hall Academy is actively seeking the generous support of individual donors, charitable foundations and corporate supporters to make our vision a reality for young women in South St. Louis. Please join the founders in opening Tessera Hall Academy.