There are great things happening in the Town of East Spencer! From the newly opened Splash Pad at Royal Giants Park to the upcoming East Spencer Community Day on August 3, the community is lively and excited.

Additionally, the Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School is a major highlight in the community, making those who are from the area very proud of this awesome opportunity for children and families that are served.

The school was named after the late Essie Mae Kiser Foxx, a prominent community leader in East Spencer, NC. Ms. Essie was a strong woman who cared for everyone in her community. She valued education and encouraged all of her children and grandchildren to get the best education they could.

“My grandmother was always a teacher and taught her children and grandchildren to respect everyone, be honest, and stand up for what was right no matter what,” stated Tony Hillian, Ms. Essie’s second oldest grandchild and East Spencer Alderman. Mr. Hillian indicated that his grandmother felt that education was very important and played a major impact on him completing his college degree.


Ms. Essie (middle) pictured with her grandchildren, Kyuanna Foxx (left) and Tony Hillian (right).


The school is referred to as “Essie’s School” for short. Essie’s School is a community-centric school of choice— a free public school — that opened in August of 2018. Currently, they serve grades kindergarten through four. Each year, it will add a grade until reaching grade 8 and becoming a K-8 school. The school will enroll 150 lucky students on a first-come, first-serve basis. If they receive more than 150 applicants, decisions on final slots will be determined by a lottery.

The school currently has 7 teachers and 5 assistant teachers, along with an Exceptional Children’s Teacher, and both Art and Spanish teacher. There are 125 students currently enrolled.


Students and teacher at Essie’s School in East Spencer, NC.


An Alternative to Learning

“Our school has given parents and guardians an alternative to learning. Administration, staff, and faculty make it a priority to engage with all students and their families to determine how to meet everyone’s needs. Our students are demographically diverse; therefore, it is imperative that we are innovative in our communication, teaching, and discipline techniques”, says Courtney Sawyer, Director of Marketing and Community Relations.

Essie’s School has high expectations and a commitment to developing relationships with parents so that they are involved in their child’s education.

The African proverb states “It takes a village to raise a child.” Essie’s School does not take that statement lightly. The school promotes and encourages community involvement as well. Some of the highlights of the first school year included:

  • A warm first day of school welcome on the “Red Carpet”
  • Field trips to the Chemistry Lab at Johnson C. Smith University, the Culinary Arts Department at Livingstone College, a Catawba College football game, the Rowan Soil and Water Conservation incubator, and the Parent Teacher Community Organization (PTCO)
  • Sponsored bowling, Valentine’s Day, and spring dances
  • Field Day
  • Kindergarten Graduation
  • Monthly Student Recognition at the Town of East Spencer
  • First Annual Great Gatsby Gala
  • Visit from Dr. Lisa Davis
  • ‘Tis The Season Spectacular Community Holiday Parade
  • Preparation for End of Grade Testing


First day of school (2018-2019)


PTCO Bowling Game


‘Tis The Season Spectacular Community Holiday Parade


The Compact

Essie’s School has a parent, student, and school compact that discloses the shared responsibilities between all parties. In the compact, the school agrees to strive hard to provide a clean, safe, and orderly learning environment. The school agrees to also provide high-quality teachers and high-quality instruction for their students. They will exercise diligence in providing instruction consistent with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. They will also regularly engage in academic testing and use data to guide instructional services to students. The school will maintain a high-quality learning environment using state-of-the-art teaching techniques, while working diligently to establish and maintain a school culture designed to facilitate student achievement. Each student will be recognized as an individual and work diligently to provide the best educational experience they can.

Students are responsible for doing their best, listening to their teachers, and striving for excellence and self- improvement. The parents are expected to maintain a home environment that encourages and establishes high expectations for student achievement.

Essie’s School is big on parent engagement and involvement. They have frequent parent meetings and provide assistance to parents of children served by the school, as appropriate, in understanding topics such as the following:

  • The state’s academic content standards
  • The state’s student academic achievement standards
  • State and local academic assessments including alternates assessments
  • Requirements of Title I, Part A
  • Monitoring their child’s progress
  • Working with teachers and staff at the school

Essie’s School is a beacon of light for the Rowan community. As the school begins its second year, the goal of preparing students with an academic foundation which ultimately makes them a benefit to themselves, to their families and to their communities, remains the same.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-2010 school year on their website here.