Charter Schools

Stillman plans all-girls charter school

WUSTL sponsorship of Hawthorn School in St. Louis Business Journal

Stillman plans all-girls charter school

(January 15, 2014 by Jacob Kirn)

Mary Danforth Stillman plans to open an all-girls charter school in north or central St. Louis in August 2015.

Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, which will eventually enroll 500 girls, would be the first of its kind in the region and state, said Stillman, daughter of Sen. John Danforth and niece of former Washington University Chancellor William H. Danforth.

Washington University will serve as the institutional sponsor for the school, which will implement a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Stillman, who is an alumna of an all-girls school in Washington, D.C., said inequities in the STEM fields and the educational opportunities found in a single-sex environment were important factors in her decision to found Hawthorn.

“The goal is (for girls) to come away with career options, pathways to jobs that they want — good jobs that break the cycle of poverty,” Stillman said. “The STEM field is where those jobs are.

The school would initially accept 6th graders and 7th graders, but would expand to grades 6 through 12 by 2020.

Stillman hopes the school’s charter application will be approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by summer 2014.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s office and the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN), which created and supports other inner-city single-sex charter schools, have aided in the application process, Stillman said. Hawthorn would be affiliated with YWLN, which was founded by Washington University graduate Ann Tisch.

Public charter schools in Missouri are funded with tax dollars once students are enrolled, but Stillman said Hawthorn would require extensive private fundraising to cover startup costs. She said a couple major donors have expressed interest, but she declined to name them.

Hawthorn will likely seek to rehab an old school building in north or central St. Louis along a major bus line, Stillman said.

Washington University also sponsors KIPP Inspire Academy, a charter middle school in the Fox Park neighborhood. The university will also sponsor KIPP Victory Academy Elementary School, a charter school in north St. Louis that’s set to open in June.

Read story in the St. Louis Business Journal Morning Edition.