Invictus Academy of Richmond is a different kind of charter school, one where students will take double periods of math and English along with communication classes like speech and debate.
On September 27, the Contra Costa County Office of Education approved plans to open Invictus, a new public charter school. Invictus, which has been in the works since August 2016, will be open to students from grade 7 to 12 by fall 2018.
Gautam Thapar, executive director and lead founder of Invictus, noticed that his previous school, Leadership Public Schools, wasn’t able to keep up with community demand.
“The challenge that eventually led us here was that more families wanted to attend than there was space,” he said. “I thought we could create something like that and maybe even build upon it.”
The school’s mission, as stated on its website, is to educate students “to thrive in the college of their choice, solve relevant problems and communicate with confidence.” Thapar places an emphasis on teaching communication skills to his students. This is what sets Invictus apart from other charters, he said.
Thapar traveled to 50 different charter schools, in every region of the country, to look into the strategies that worked and the ones that could be built upon. The Invictus program includes a double period in both English and math, a required speech and debate program and a “deliberate practice period” that will allow teachers to plan a class based on a non-academic subject such as dance, chess or yoga.
“We’re going to be a strict school, but we’re going to be very loving about it,” said Thapar while chuckling.
Celia Sotelo, the parent of a sixth-grade student, is excited about the prospect of a new charter for her kids. She said her daughter is more advanced than the rest of her classmates and Invictus will give her “an individualized program.”
Though the school has yet to find a permanent location, they are hoping to find a space in central or south Richmond. They will apply for a location on November 1 and should hear back from the district sometime in April.
This story has been updated from its original version.