Cradle-to-college education with an emphasis on educating the whole child results in a holistic education that goes “beyond the test”

Regardless of background, students thrive at Drew 

Watch some magic

Learn about Drew's engaging and fun approach to helping all students meet standards in literacy and math.

Holistic education “Beyond the test”: what it means and How we get there

Thorough early learning programs

Language-based development unlocks student potential before kindergarten and closes the 30 million word gap that exists between low-income students and their more affluent peers

  • Two site-based early learning partners ensure that students enter kindergarten ready to learn to read so that they are on track to read to learn by third grade

  • Mixed-income classrooms create a language-rich environment for students where they learn from both teachers and peers

  • The Creative Curriculum helps teachers develop meaningful experiences and developmental growth for infants, one-year-old and two-year-old students 

  • The OWL (Opening the World of Learning) curriculum helps Drew’s children in 3-year-old through pre-k classrooms to foster cognitive skills through thematic units of study using high-quality children’s books

  • Growing with Mathematics uses a language-based approach to build understanding of math concepts based on research that demonstrates a correlation between language development and a child’s ability to learn math

Research-based interventions 

Students are supported heavily through their academic challenges as soon as they are detected  

  • Diagnostic tools are used to regularly assess students and inform flexible grouping and individualized interventions 

  • All first and second graders receive 45 minutes of intensive literacy instruction daily in which they are placed in subgroups across classrooms based on proficiency 

  • Pull outs are in addition to regular classroom instruction and allow students to work in small groups or individually with a certified reading or math teacher and highly trained paraprofessionals

  • Creative staffing through paraprofessionals and AmeriCorps volunteers lowers the student/teacher ratio and gives students the individualized time they need to succeed 

A rigorous Literacy Center  

The Literacy Center ensures that no student slips through the cracks using tier-3 intensive, individual interventions to support students below grade level to catch up to their peers.

  • A systematic multi-sensory approach to literacy instruction is used to meet the needs of every child 

  • Three times yearly, the Literacy Center staff assesses each student with an age-appropriate universal screener that identifies areas of strength and weakness in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension

  • Individualized Plans are developed for each student depending on the results of their assessment that include goal setting and weekly progress monitoring

A structured Math Lab   

Math ‘interventionists’ at Drew work in a tier-3 intensive, individual intervention environment to keep each student on track for academic success in math 

  • Universal screening and diagnostic tools assess student proficiency and assess areas of growth 

  • The Math Lab ‘interventionists’ collaborate closely with classroom teachers to intervene during regular instruction as well as in the Lab

  • Certified math instructors work on concepts and content with students individually and in small groups 

Arts Integration    

Drew integrates the arts into a broader “STEAM” (STEM + Arts) theme. The arts program both stands alone and is integrated into other disciplines nurturing creativity.

  • All third grade students at Drew learn to play the violin

  • Drew’s performing arts program includes a harp lessons, a band and chorus, dance troupes, drama, and an orchestra

  • Students receive instruction in traditional instrumental music, as well as technology-integrated instruction like using Garage Band software on iPads to create their own ‘iPad band’

Social-Emotional Learning  

A culture-based rather than discipline-based approach to student behavior develops key social-emotional skills and urgency around learning from an early age. 

  • The Pacific Institute supports teachers in developing strong student habits and culture in their classrooms

  • The Pacific Institute uses goal setting and positive affirmations to teach self-efficacy, optimism and determination 

Holistic Neighborhood Revitalization  

The East Lake Foundation was created to build a better future for residents of East Lake, Atlanta, where Drew is located 

  • Mixed-income housing (half market-rate, half government-subsidized) brings diversity to the community and school

  • Drew parents and adults in the community are often asked to speak to students about their specific careers and volunteer at school to support student learning 

  • Projects at Drew are often community-centered and integrate the curriculum with initiatives that better the community 

  • East Lake Healthy Connections ensures that all eligible East Lake families are connected to accessible medical homes, effectively utilize primary and preventive health care services, and properly manage chronic diseases

  • The East Lake Family YMCA promotes health, fitness and wellness within the neighborhood and collaborates with Drew to provide physical education to students in kindergarten through fifth grade 

Partners and resources

The Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School helps develop a curriculum for strong language and literacy skills before kindergarten and provides teachers with individual mentoring, in-class observation and feedback, coaching conversations, and planning support

AmeriCorps volunteers tutor struggling students in reading and math 

The James M. Cox Foundation supports the Cox Pre-K program at Drew 

Bright from the Start licenses the child care programs, administers the nutrition program, and manages voluntary quality enhancement programs

The Rotary Club of Atlanta helps fund the materials used in Drew’s Literacy Center

The East Lake Foundation provides tools that allow East Lake residents to build a better future through high-quality mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education and community wellness - watch an Emmy nominated, 13-minute clip on the transformation at East Lake here

EdisonLearning serves as the Education Management Organization for the school

The Pacific Institute provides social-emotional learning curriculum to extend student growth beyond academics

Growing with Mathematics provides a language-based introductory mathematics curriculum for pre-k students 


contact us

Purpose Built Schools is a partner organization to Charles R. Drew Charter School and grew out of the work done by Purpose Built Communities to share the East Lake neighborhood revitalization model around the country. Reach out to us at