If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. – Derek Bok

High poverty schools often have a low rate of achievement, with students more likely to end up incarcerated than in college. Drop out rates are staggering, resulting in young people reaching adulthood undereducated, unprepared for the workforce and ultimately unequipped to craft a life of meaning and value.  So when a school soars beyond the boundaries of poverty, low expectations, and what may seem like the norm, it is worth studying their story, their journey, their programs and practices, and the mindset behind their success towards better outcomes for all students.

Schoolwise is a new initiative of the UNC Charlotte Urban Education Collaborative in which researchers will study the high achievement of Sugar Creek Charter School and other schools, using what they learn toward creating a model to improve student achievement on a larger scale. Launched with seed money from the K-8 charter school, Schoolwise is a one-of-a-kind partnership in the Charlotte region.

Dr Chance W. Lewis, Ph.D.Chance W. Lewis, Ph.D. |  Dr. Lewis is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair of Urban Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is also the Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Education Collaborative, which is publishing a new generation of research on improving urban schools. Dr. Lewis received his B.S. and M.Ed.  from Southern University and completed his doctoral studies at Colorado State University.

Dr. Lewis formerly served as the Houston Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of Urban Education in the College of Education at Texas A&M University and as co-director of the Center for Urban School Partnerships. Prior to that, he was as an assistant professor at Colorado State University. Dr. Lewis began his education career in Baton Rouge Parish Schools where he earned State Teacher of the Year honors in 1997.  He has authored over 100 publications and consulted with school districts and universities across the United States and Canada.


Dr. Ayana Allen, Ph.D. Ayana Allen, Ph.D. |  Dr. Allen is the Post-Doctoral Research Associate for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Education Collaborative.  Upon completion of her B.A. with Honors from UNC- Chapel Hill, Dr. Allen joined the 2001 Teach for America Houston Corp where she served for seven years as a first grade teacher and a literacy specialist. She received several awards for teaching excellence, including Teacher of the Year, Houston Area Alliance of Black School Educators Outstanding Teaching Award, and Houston ISD East Region’s Outstanding Young Educator Award. Most recently, Dr. Allen served as Director of College Counseling and Alumni Programs at YES Prep Southwest in Houston, Texas.  Dr. Allen received her Ph.D. in Educational Curriculum & Instruction from Texas A&M University in 2010.



Cheryl TurnerCheryl Turner, School Director, Sugar Creek Charter School| Cheryl Turner has been director of Sugar Creek Charter School since 2001. Under her leadership, the school has grown from 435 students to 875 students and the staff, from 45 to 121. With 25 years’ experience as a teacher, school administrator and principal, Cheryl is the individual primarily responsible for the academic program supporting Sugar Creek’s success. She holds a B.A from University of Maryland, an M.A. from Seton Hall University and is currently pursuing a doctorate at Gardner-Webb University. Cheryl also serves as a member of the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Council and chairs it’s policy committee. Prior to becoming a professional educator, Cheryl served for 10 years as a Military Broadcaster in the U.S. Army.


Frank MartinFrank Martin, Chairman, Board of Directors, Sugar Creek Charter School |  Frank Martin was one of the founding directors of Sugar Creek Charter School in 1998 and currently serves as its board chairman.  He is the managing partner of a Charlotte, NC real estate company and for more than 30 years has been among Charlotte’s most active developers, with work including condominium, townhouse, single family residential, mixed use, commercial and medical office developments.

Frank has a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Spencer Love Fellow. He is a past president of the Charlotte Homebuilders, commissioner of the Charlotte Housing Authority, and chairman of the Harvest Center homeless ministry.