Homewood’s Magic City Acceptance Academy breaks ground and barriers

Inside the Magic City Acceptance Academy prior to the wall-breaking
Inside the Magic City Acceptance Academy prior to the wall-breaking. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Today marked a new day for the Magic City Acceptance Academy (MCAA) as it hosted a ceremonial “wall-breaking” on the Birmingham area’s newest charter school. The MCAA will be the first openly LGBTQ affirming school in Alabama and one of the first in the US.

First of its kind

Magic City Acceptance Academy staff at the wall-breaking
Dr. Michael Wilson, Jim Gibbs, Marixa Coward, Trevor Hauenstein, and Charity Jackson at the wall-breaking for the Magic City Acceptance Academy. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

The vision for the MCAA grew out of an increasing need seen at the Magic City Acceptance Center as LGBTQ youth shared stories of bullying and trauma at school.

The Birmingham AIDS Outreach and its youth center, Magic City Acceptance Center, decided to help by creating a new charter school in the Birmingham area. The goal of the MCAA is to provide a safe and restorative space for all students.

The new public charter school will be led by former Glen Iris principal Dr. Michael Wilson, a former Alabama Principal of the Year. He is joined by CEO Karen Muskgrove, Chief Academic Officer Charity Jackson, Operations Director Jim Gibbs, STEM Director Trevor Hauenstein, and registrar Marixa Coward.

Wall-breaking

With a rainbow of sledgehammers, the founders and administration of the MCAA ceremonially broke ground on the future school in Homewood.

Renovations are already underway and are expected to finish this summer. The school plans to open in Fall 2021.

Creating a curriculum of acceptance

The tuition-free Academy aims to provide a learning environment that focuses on restorative justice.

According to the MCAA’s Chief Academic Officer Charity Jackson, the curriculum of the Academy will use project-based learning and trauma-informed practices to teach its 250-350 students.

Jackson explained the two methods:

“Project-based learning focuses on utilizing skills and knowledge learned in instruction, and applying that to a project students do across the grade level. This method is about taking their knowledge and applying the skills they have learned. Trauma-informed practices involve teaching to the whole child and building relationships with the child.”

Charity Jackson, MCAA Chief Academic Officer

Renovating a school and restoring students

While the MCAA is the first LGBTQ-affirming school in the state, the school will not just cater to the needs of LGBTQ students. The MCAA’s focus is to help students who are not performing well at their current schools. Students of all orientations, ethnicities and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

“We aren’t about being an identity school; we have the letters LGBTQ in our mission, but we also have the word ‘all.’ We want to create a safe, brave, restorative space for every student, to help them heal. We’re a student-focused institution.”

Dr. Mike Wilson, MCAA principal

With no geographic restrictions, students from across the state can apply. A randomized lottery system will select the students who will attend the MCAA.

You can learn more about the MCAA on their website, and prospective students can apply here.

If you’re interested in the MCAA’s journey to Birmingham and the community response, check out this Bham Now article from November 2020.

You can also learn more about the Birmingham AIDS Outreach, along with other local LGBTQ resources, in Bham Now’s guide from June 2020.