“Our kids don’t have do-overs. … This is their one window of opportunity.”

— Don Doran, head of school

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Grades PK-8
  • Atlanta Public Schools
  • Public Charter
  • Urban
  • DTM awarded in 2014

School Overview

Drew Charter School is at the center of an unusual philanthropic effort to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty in a large Atlanta neighborhood. Although much of the effort, directed by the East Lake Foundation, centers on providing housing and social services for public housing-eligible families and working families, the school serves at the project’s heart, propelling the children of the neighborhood into the wider world.

“Our kids don’t have do-overs,” says head of school Don Doran. “There is no practice run. This is their one window of opportunity.”

Project-based learning tied directly to standards and with an integration of math, science, and the arts is at the heart of instruction, an approach brought to the school some years ago by Barbara Preuss, principal of the lower school (and former assistant principal of 2003 DTM winner Centennial Place Elementary School).

“We were doing what Common Core standards call for before they were even developed,” Preuss says. Drew Charter recently added an upper school, the goal of which is to ensure that every student graduates with a college acceptance in hand. “They won’t all go to college,” says Doran, “but that will be their choice. We will make sure they have the option.”

Updated 2014

“Think Promise Neighborhoods before Promise Neighborhoods Were Cool” by Karin Chenoweth profiles Drew Charter School.

“It’s Not What You Do but How You Do It,” by Marni Bromberg talks about Drew’s project-based curriculum.

School website

District website

Great Schools profile