PATERSON, NJ – College Achieve Paterson is expanding and becoming a K-9 school for the 2020-21 school year. This September, the public charter school will launch its ninth-grade academy bringing their overall enrollment to about 1000 students. 

Dr. Gemar Mills, the school’s Co-Founder and Chief School Administrator, said he’s excited to be able to take another step toward realizing the school vision – preparing students to excel in and graduate from the top 100 colleges in the country.

The new grade level will have 125 seats – 90 of which are already filled by students who matriculated from 8th grade, he said. About 35 spots are still available and all students receive laptops.  Additional information on enrollment is available at

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The 9th-grade academy will prioritize four initiatives, to ensure that students are prepared to excel in college:

  1. Character-building:  Through classes and electives that expose students to real-world experiences, such as international travel, mock trials, community service, and more, students experience the possible life and career paths they could take.

  2. Science, Technology, Engineering Art, and Math as a core area of learning:  STEAM is not a separate course; it’s a core part of College Achieve’s educational philosophy, and school officials and educators dedicate more time to STEAM areas than the typical public school. Ninth-grade academy students have an extra period each week for science labs as well as multiple technology course options. Art is an elective for students in most grades. Finally, all students in 9th grade receive two periods of math instruction every day.

  3. Advanced Placement opportunities for all: College Achieve Paterson’s curriculum is backward-mapped from college entrance exams so that scholars are prepared for A.P.  Data shows that participation in Advanced Placement classes is correlated with higher college matriculation rates, higher GPAs in college, and higher college graduation rates. 

  4. Rigorous writing using the Toulmin Method: College Achieve Paterson’s curriculum features the Toulmin College Writing Model, a foundational program used successfully for years by some of the most elite private schools in the nation. It challenges students to develop and defend their arguments through multiple rounds of review. This comprehensive critical thinking and writing model is applied to almost all core disciplines and will help ensure that College Achieve Paterson scholars are prepared to write an “A” level paper in college. 

“I grew up in the Christopher Columbus projects and I wholeheartedly believe the way I embraced education was ultimately the thing that changed the trajectory of my life,” Mills told TAPinto Paterson.

“I went to Kennedy High School and met people there that shaped my life – teachers, administrators, and peers,” he said. “So, to be able to help young people navigate the things they’ll face with the right teaching, teachers, friendships, and mentorships is a way to keep things headed in the right direction.”

Ninth grade will be rolled out is September, Mills assured, regardless of whether schools in New Jersey transition from remote learning back to in-person instruction after an extended closure due to the COVID-19 crisis.

State health and education officials are currently discussing how schools will return and, according to Gov. Phil Murphy, there could be a decision by mid-June on when buildings will reopen to students.

“We’re still waiting for guidance from the governor for next steps, yet either way, current and incoming students will have the tools needed to learn virtually,” Mills said.

Since mid-March, virtual learning has been the new normal for the 757 students and 46 teachers at the public charter school. Even before the pandemic unfolded in New Jersey, the charter school was in the midst of implementing an initiative to distribute technology to students whose homes lack computers or internet access.


 College Achieve Public Schools

College Achieve Public Schools (CAPS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing all students with the best of what we know about education. CAPS mission is to prepare its students to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. CAPS currently operates seven campuses and schools in Plainfield, North Plainfield, Paterson, Asbury Park and Neptune, NJ serving over 2,850 students. To learn more, go to