This Durham Public Charter School is Rooted in Justice and Equity, Creating a Community Where All Children Thrive

Cpsc Hands Cp

If you are seeking a Kindergarten-8th grade learning community for your child that prioritizes critical thinking, creativity, and engagement, then Central Park School for Children (CPSC) is worth exploring as a home where your child will thrive.

Founded in 2003 as the first North Carolina Public School with a project-based learning and teaching approach, CPSC is a small, diverse public school with two campuses in downtown Durham.

Who is CPSC?

Educating approximately 300 students at the K-4th grade campus and 325 students at the Middle School (5th-8th grade) campus, CPSC does things differently than many other public (and private) schools.

Here are a few quick things to know about Central Park School for Children.

CPSC is:

  • Child-centered with a whole child approach
  • Equity-focused
  • Committed to social justice and anti-racism
  • Racially and socio-economically diverse 
  • Pioneering education using project-based learning
  • Rooted in critical thinking and joy for learning
Photo By Satsuki "sunshine" Scoville

Photo by Satsuki “Sunshine” Scoville

How CPSC has grown since its founding almost 20 years ago

Central Park School for Children believes students learn best when their social and cultural lives and communities are at the heart of the school’s curriculum, instruction, and learning.

Here’s a short timeline of CPSC’s progress living out these beliefs:

  • In 2003, CPSC became the first North Carolina Public School with a project-based learning and teaching approach.
  • In 2013, CPSC initiated the first charter school admissions policy in the southeastern United States that prioritizes socio-economic diversity.
  • In 2014, CPSC started its Middle School Campus.
  • In 2017, they oriented their strategic plan, mission, and vision toward their North Star: All Children Thriving.
Photo By Satsuki "sunshine" Scoville

Photo by Satsuki “Sunshine” Scoville

Checking in: How is CPSC doing in 2021?

Over the last three years, CPSC students of color, Exceptional Children program students, and economically disadvantaged students have increased their North Carolina test scores by 10%. These groups are also outperforming their peers in the Durham Public School system by 10-15% on North Carolina end-of-grade standardized tests.

Enrollment by CPSC students of color in advanced math and English language arts classes increased from 5% to 44% over the last three years as well.

Additionally, each year, CPSC’s race and socioeconomic demographics in both staff and students better reflect and represent the diverse community they serve.

Development staff at CPSC is not shy to give credit where it is due. One of the main keys to All Children Thriving at this school are the parents. CPSC parents are passionate partners for the All Children Thriving Plan.

Families are engaged through the school’s Equity Committee, Board of Trustees, Parents of African American Children, Parents of Latinx Children, Room Parents, and CPSC’s popular Strawberry Festival.

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What’s ahead for CPSC’s All Children Thriving Plan?

To advance CPSC’s All Children Thriving Strategic Plan, the school seeks to:

  • Improve curriculum to reach all children through integrated anti-racist teaching and culturally affirming Project-Based Learning, integrated arts, and outdoor learning practices 
  • Increase fair access to advanced courses, extended learning, and extracurriculars—with a focus on mathematics for historically marginalized students 
  • Enhance the socially just, whole-child approach with restorative practices, mindfulness, student leadership, and access to inclusive student services


Does CPSC sound like the school for your child or children? The CPSC community is welcoming new students for the 2021-22 school year. To apply…

  1. Sign up for a virtual information session and tour with Executive Director John Heffernan
  2. Fill out your CPSC application by February 28, 2021
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