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National Heritage Academies Celebrates 26 Years of Making a Difference

National Heritage Academies Celebrates 26 Years of Making a Difference

PR Newswire

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The birth of his son sparked J.C. Huizenga to think about education through the eyes of a parent. He believed that every child should have the opportunity to have a great education and that schools should be held accountable to produce results, so he opened the first National Heritage Academies (NHA) school, Excel Charter Academy, in 1995.

May 9-15 marks National Charter Schools Week and the 30th anniversary of the first charter school law, a time to reflect on NHA's impact and what keeps people rooted at the organization.

NHA has been in the business of making a difference in education for 26 years, now operating 90+ public charter schools across nine states serving over 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Dan Bartels has been with Excel for 24 years. Starting as a teacher, he moved his way up and has now been leading the school for 12 years. Bartels is also a proud Excel parent of four.

"I have appreciated NHA over the years because of the commitment to student learning, growth mindsets, Moral Focus, and care for others," said Bartels. "Having high care and high expectations is something that sets NHA apart."

Christy Spurrier, principal at Matthews Charter Academy, has been with NHA for 20 years. Spurrier's daughters attended Queen's Grant Community School and have since followed in her footsteps as Queen's Grant teachers, where her granddaughter now also attends. To Spurrier's family, NHA has become a family tradition.

NHA's Moral Focus curriculum teaches virtues like respect, integrity, perseverance, and courage daily to build strong moral character to help students grow up to be successful. Spurrier believes Moral Focus is what makes the organization unique.

"That is what I wanted for my kids, and it's what our society needs," she said. "These values are woven throughout the course of the day, and from the beginning, I believed in what NHA set out to do. We offer a choice in public education. I've had the opportunity to watch students grow up and witness them becoming productive members of society. The education provided at NHA played a vital role in that."

Bartels' and Spurrier's reasons for staying rooted with the organization's mission showcase the NHA difference. 

"At our core, NHA exists to change the lives of children through education," said Brian Britton, Chief Executive Officer at NHA. "We also infuse a Moral Focus approach into our curriculum that empowers students to become citizens of their community. That's the NHA difference. We are so proud of our educators and students, and cannot wait to see what the next 26 years will bring."

About National Heritage Academies:

NHA is a network of 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. For more information, visit

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SOURCE National Heritage Academies

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