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Our School

North Star Academy Charter School of Newark is one of New Jersey's very first charter public schools, and after more than sixteen years has also become one of its most celebrated.

North Star Academy, winner of the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence, has recently been featured in the New York Times, Time Magazine, and on PBS. We currently serve over 4,000 students in grades K-12 across 13 schools: six elementary schools, five middle schools, and two high schools.

Teach Like a Champion, written by Uncommon Schools Managing Director Doug Lemov and Driven by Data and Leverage Leadership, written by North Star's Managing Director Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, are now reaching half a million educators nationwide. Thousands of visitors from Chile to India to Japan to Sweden have visited North Star and are explicitly implementing our instructional systems at their own schools.


To serve Newark children by building an uncommon school where students partake of a rigorous, 10-month, extended day academic program that gives them the means to beat the odds in school and life.

To shape an intimate, supportive, engaging school community where classes are small and personalized; where parents are partners; where teachers teach with passion and commitment; and where all the adults model—and all the students develop and live—the values of caring, courage, justice, respect, and responsibility.

To generate for students a transformative experience at an age when they are forging their very identities and lifetime aspirations and to cultivate in them the belief that they are the masters of their own destinies: each one worthy of greatness and goodness, each one capable of—and responsible for—serving the community and the world around them.


North Star Academy was founded in 1997 by James Verrilli and Norman Atkins. To learn more about our founders and their enormous impact on Newark public education, see the videos below.


According to 2003 U.S. Census data Newark ranks as the second poorest city in the country, with almost half of its children living at income levels of less than $18,660 for a family of four. The New Jersey City Kids Count 2003 data paints a similarly grim picture: Newark children are less healthy, less likely to finish high school, and less likely to reach adulthood than other children around the state.

When students enter North Star they are often significantly behind their state peers. In fact, their test scores are often below the Newark District average, which is one of the lowest performing districts in the state. Chosen from among Newark residents by random lottery, nearly all North Star students are students of color. 80% qualify for free/reduced price lunch. 90% of their parents never graduated from college.

The North Star has long been a symbol of hope and freedom. Frederick Douglass used this symbol in the struggle against slavery by naming his abolitionist newspaper The North Star. Every facet of  North Star's culture supports the vision of “seeing the star,” guiding students along a path to success in college and in life. The school strives to build a sense of community where everyone feels a part of a shared mission. North Star creates a structured, supportive community where everyone is a valued member.