Celerity Educational Group opened its first charter school in the heart of the Crenshaw community in 2005 with a focused commitment to serve Los Angeles’ most impoverished and underserved students. Their model was simple - expect the best, give the best and accomplish the best. This has proven true. Each Celerity School operating in 2010-11 scored in the top 15% of all California public schools according to CST performance.
“I refuse to expect less from our children or give less to our children in South Los Angeles or Compton than parents from West Los Angeles or Beverly Hills expect or give to theirs,” said Celerity founder and CEO, Vielka McFarlane.
A first-generation immigrant herself, McFarlane came to the United States from her native Panama in 1982. A decade later, she began teaching at some of South LA’s lowest performing schools. Frustrated by the low expectations for these students, McFarlane came together with other reform-minded LAUSD teachers and principals and founded Celerity.
Parents and the community embraced the school with open arms. In the 2011-12 school year, Celerity operates seven schools and serves approximately 3,000 students. Most recently, Celerity opened its first school in Compton - Celerity Sirius. The school was over enrolled in the first two weeks and, thanks to an unprecedented partnership with the Compton Unified School District, Celerity was able to open a second campus on a closed Compton Unified School District elementary school.
Celerity offers a challenging, college preparatory curriculum with an emphasis on project-based learning - a teaching model where students learn through fieldwork, group-projects, and service instead of lectures. Students also participate in computer classes, yoga and performing arts.
“The Celerity instructional model is simple; we focus on servicing the individual needs of each child,” said Markiena Madison, 5th Grade Teacher at Celerity Nascent Charter School. “We do what it takes to make sure they succeed. Instruction is tailored to their individual learning modality. We use project-based learning and culturally relevant pedagogy to engage students but ultimately, we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they are acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge they need to excel as life-long learners.”
Celerity’s teachers come from the community and are at the heart of its success. Teachers are given the professional freedom they need to create dynamic, innovative lesson plans.
Each one of Celerity’s four schools that were open had API scores over 850. The highest performing school, Celerity Troika, reached 970.