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A School Where Educating Is Our Number One Goal

Alphonsa Foward grew up in a two-parent household with his five siblings in Dayton, Ohio. His parents taught him and his siblings early on about the importance of independence and leadership, and education was held in especially high regard. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Miami University (Oxford, OH) and his Master’s Degree in Christian Education from the International Apostolic University of Grace and Truth (Indianapolis, IN). Prior to becoming the principal of New Life Academy of Excellence, Mr. Foward work experience consisted mostly of teaching jobs in which he taught classes of students in the 1st, 5th, and 7th grades. In his spare time, he also does volunteer work in his community, such as assisting the elderly in nursing homes and motivational speaking at local youth camps.

The foundational principle of New Life Academy of Excellence is to be a school of choice that focuses on teaching the Mandarin Chinese language to its students in addition to its set curriculum in order to prepare them for the global economy. Mr. Foward grew up in the Midwestern United States where English was virtually the only language spoken, but when he moved to the state of Georgia where the population is more diverse, he discovered the importance of being multilingual—especially with business languages like Chinese. Because of this, NLAE uses the Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) model in which students in all grade levels learn Chinese for at least 45 minutes per school day. Some of Mr. Foward’s best memories from being NLAE’s principal come from the yearly school trips to China that he takes with the 7th- and 8th-grade classes so that they can learn more about the country’s history and culture and have the opportunity to speak Chinese in real-world situations. As a student who has been on one of these trips, I can say that it is one of my fondest memories, as well!

One valuable lesson that Mr. Foward has learned as NLAE’s principal is that he can successfully provide educational opportunities that allow his students to demonstrate high achievement and growth while receiving less funding than traditional public schools. Allow me to share a direct quote from him regarding this lesson:

“I truly believe that if doctors and lawyers were produced out of one-room schoolhouses on a backcountry road, then we can educate students with the funding we receive.”

Mr. Foward is grateful to Mr. Wilbanks and the Gwinnett County Board of Education for granting NLAE four charter contracts and the resources that it needs so that he can carry out his dream of successfully operating the school that he envisioned. As for his goals and hopes for the future of NLAE, he plans to expand from being a K-8 school to a K-12 school so that his students have the opportunity to learn Chinese from kindergarten to 12th grade, and wants the 9th through 12th graders to have an international business program added to their curriculum in order to further prepare them for the global economy. In addition to expanding NLAE and its curriculum, Mr. Foward also has plans to introduce a foreign exchange program in which NLAE students are sent to study in China for extended periods and Chinese students come to study at NLAE. As a former student at NLAE, I find both of these propositions to be very ambitious, innovative, and exciting! I wish Mr. Foward nothing but the best in his future endeavors and thank him for taking the time to participate.

Noah is currently a student at GSMST. He is interning with Gwinnett Magazine through our internship program, Converge. Noah decided to intern with us because he’s always been interested in journalism and believed this would be a great opportunity to apply and develop his writing skills.