We will appreciate if you fill out the “Testimonials” by clicking here. Please share your thoughts to promote a more positive environment at GSA. This will help build a better school culture and understanding. We thank you in advance.

Charter Schools Provide A Sense Of Community

Dear Mrs. Park,

We couldn’t let today pass by without sending you a message wishing you the happiest of teacher appreciation days! You have been such a blessing to Evie, and the epitome of an incredible Kindergarten teacher. Evie went from having consistent yellow days and crying each day at her previous school to all green/purple and always happy in your classroom, all in the midst of a global pandemic. Evie loves going to school each day, and when she is not there, she pretends to be you—what better form of flattery than a kid imitating her role-model.

I’m amazed at how calm you are while juggling virtual and in-person lessons, and how patient you’ve been teaching us parents and grandparents how to navigate zoom and online learning.

The fact that you were able to get Evie’s speech evaluation initiated and completed in record time, was nothing short of amazing. The fact that you recognized the need for her to attend four day in-person lessons, and then advocated for her, made a HUGE difference in her learning experience. She has learned so much this year, and has developed a real love for learning!

I really can’t say enough good things about your teaching skills. We are so lucky to have you as Evie’s teacher to help us navigate this unusual, and what seemed at times to be impossible, year! THANK YOU for doing a phenomenal job! – Love, Anna & Evie

“The school is an AMAZING place! We have been apart of this Gator family since 2011 (2nd year it was open) with two of my older kids. LOVE IT!!!! Even when things might get rough, the parents at this school and the other two campuses come together with admin to help each other. Just like FAMILY….My youngest just started this year in KG and we definitely wouldn’t leave unless forced too. Staff/Admin are amazing and really want what’s best for our kids! 100%+ BEST SCHOOL in the city for education!” – Nicole Bieser, Parent

“I like GSA! I get to see my friends every day at school! I really like my teachers! They are fun and sweet! I love all my GSA people!” – Stella H., 1st Grade Student

“GSA is a very good school that should keep on growing! I’ve been hear for 4 years and never once have I been bullied! I have never even seen a bully! The teachers teach real well! I have a lot of friends because of GSA. I’m glad that my parents found GSA!” – Logan H., 3rd Grade Student

“I absolutely love many of the staff that I’ve come to know during my short time at Smiley. Even through all the stress of this year, many teachers have been nothing but kind and patient as I “learn the ropes”. Every question or request I’ve had has been answered or heard and that’s so comforting!” – Tasha McIntosh, GSA Staff

“GSA has been a great school for our kiddos! The teachers go over and beyond the call of duty, the curriculum is great, and the families are incredibly helpful!” – Latieke Lyles, Parent

“Great school! Good community! Definitely recommend GSA SMILEY.” – Marisela Rodriguez, Former GSA Parent

“Great school for our kids. Teachers, Staff, Principal, all team together make a big difference in our kids education. Thank you all!!!” – Ferida Abdagic, Parent

“GSA is a great school with awesome teacher’s that REALLY care. Great environment for kids to learn! They just get kids!” – Michelle Crocker, Parent

“GSA is fun! The learning is easy the way my teacher teaches me. The classroom decorations make me excited about going to school!” – Jayne C., 2nd Grade Student

“My son is in 1st grade and this is his 2nd year at GSA. We love the teachers and staff and the care of learning they have for the kids! Everyone shows safety and kindness. During the Covid shut down virtual learning they have made it so comfortable. GSA ROCKS! MY SON LOVES THE SCHOOL!” – Yamira Moore, Parent

“GSA is a wonderful school! All of the teachers and staff are completely invested in the children!” – Carrie Miller, Parent

“We have loved GSA and all of our teachers! Mrs. Park, Mrs. McEnaney, Ms. G, and Mrs. Leveque have all been awesome. My children love school because of them!” – Danielle Buscher, Parent

“We love this school for our son. The administration and educators are easy to contact and did a great job during the pandemic to get parents information in a timely manner. Our son feels challenged and loves his classmates and teachers. The class sizes and homework load are age appropriate. We are in our third year and so happy with our decision to send our son to this diverse school.” – Anne Vincent, Parent

“I like that we get to stay in our learning cohorts and come to school during COVID. I like Social Studies the best because I like history and learning about the past. I also like learning about what the future could be like.” – Camren B., 5th Grade Student

“I like to learn and play with my friends. I also like to meet new people. GSA lets me do all of these things!” – Vinny B., 3rd Grade Student

“GSA is a wonderful school community! We have 3 kids, all graduated KG here and are still going strong, thanks to the teachers and staff support! They continue to grow, improve and challenge our children accordingly. We so appreciate GSA and all it has to offer! ” – Jennie Hampel, Parent

“Great school in the city! Backed by Missouri Charter Public School Commission & great STEAM curriculum. The teachers & administration is great! We love GSA!” – Gina Missel, Parent

“We have sent our son since kindergarten and now he’s in 2nd grade. It has been a wonderful experience! Diversity, education, staff have all been excellent. There has not been one surprise or anything we have questioned. From day 1 our son has been pushed academically and he has thrived. The teachers have been great and understanding in the time of this pandemic. Their planning and patience shows how professional this school and its staff are! The curriculum is great with great focus on all subjects needed to successfully teach our children. We couldn’t be happier that we chose GSA!” – Mike Missel, Parent

“I like GSA because of all the nice students and teachers. I’ve been here since Kindergarten! I have so many friends! All of my classes are fun and hands-on. My teachers don’t make things too hard or too easy. I get to learn lots of things when I am at GSA!” – Cooper B., 4th Grade Student

“I love GSA! I’ve been here since Kindergarten. It makes me feel at home, in a good place. I love the way the school looks! It’s so colorful! I actually like everything about GSA!” – Lucy F., 4th Grade Student

“I find GSA to be a very safe school. The teaching methods used by the teachers are nice. I am learning a lot! There is truly nothing that I don’t like about my school!” – Wesley G., 4th Grade Student

“My children love this school. The teachers are very caring and helpful. I would recommend checking it out.” – Jill Murray, Parent

“All of the GSA teachers are very nice! We have sports for kids to play. My favorite thing is that I get to make new friends every year!” – Claudia C., 3rd Grade Student

“GSA is really fun and helpful! Before I went to GSA, I didn’t know how to count by 2’s. I really didn’t like math before, but now I do! I recommend my mom’s friend’s daughter to come to GSA! I know she would like it!” – Lucy E.G., 3rd Grade Student

“All of the GSA teachers care about the students! They give us a great education! I’m happy to go to GSA! It is my favorite school!” – Sasha C., 2nd Grade Student

“I like every year we get to take pictures of our whole class and our teacher! This helps me remember the good old days from my past!” – Jelan H., 5th Grade Student

“I like that GSA gives me the opportunity to do so many things! GSA students and staff accept me for who I am!” – Kida D., 5th Grade Student

“Our children have been attending GSA for over five years. They say a school can only be as great as the teachers who work there and GSA is a sincere testament to that! Our children have had wonderful teachers who are truly gifted at teaching academics and personal responsibility. It is a safe and caring environment with an emphasis on kindness and respect. Highly recommend!” – Mindi Rowland, Parent

“We love this school which has a community feel. My oldest started here in kindergarten and is currently in 8th. I have 2 other kids in this school and we all love it! The teachers are great; admin listens. My youngest attended a SLPS for Pre-K, which felt very big and scary and I never even met administration. At GSA, everyone knows our name — has a small-town school feel to it.” – Angie LaMora, Parent

“We LOVE this school. My daughter is in her second year here. The staff is so warm and friendly and I trust them with my child. We will be sending all of our kids here!” – CC, Parent

“We love GSA! We have been impressed with both the teachers and administration. Academics are strong as well as social/emotional learning. The virtual instruction provided during the 2020 school year has been amazing, my daughter has maintained grade level skills. My daughter absolutely loves her school!!!” – Rich Krussel, Parent

“GSA has been amazing for my family and kids! The staff is supportive and always there for my family no matter what. The teachers and the education is top notch and I couldn’t be more happy about the choice I made to send my oldest here five years ago!” – Maggie Gilligan, Parent

“GSA Smiley is one of best school in St. Louis. I and my daughter love to be a part of GSA Smiley Family. Thanks for doing your great job for future of our kiddos!” –  Gokhan Ozturk, Parent

“The fourth-grade teaching staff this past year was phenomenal. Cameron loved all four of his teachers, and the communication from Mrs. Winter, Mr. Ozturk, Ms. Yol, and Ms. Babcock was impeccable. This was the first year that Cameron wasn’t in a class with the core group of friends that he’s been with since kindergarten, and we were really nervous about how that would turn out. I would say he thrived under the guidance of these teachers, and Matt and I really appreciate the hard work of the entire fourth grade team.” – Amber, Parent

“Letter to the Editor

A recent letter to the editor titled “Focus on helping public schools do better “ claimed that “few private charter schools in our area offer a good education.” For the record, it is important to note that there are no private charter schools in Missouri.

Charter schools are public schools and as a charter school parent, I want to express how happy we are with our child’s academic success and our overall experience with the charter schools in St. Louis.  I chose a charter school because our child was not accepted into a Magnet School, and the assigned neighborhood school did not meet our standards.  If we had not had the choice to send our child to Gateway Science Academy, a non-profit charter school, we most likely would have moved.  Because of charter schools, more families are staying in the city and neighborhoods are again stabilizing and improving.

The editorial also claims that charter schools are not accountable and waste money when they are closed. It seems to me that closing a failing school is the ultimate form of accountability, yet in the traditional system failing district schools are allowed to continue failing students year after year. What is that financial cost? Even more importantly what is the human cost and cost to society when we are unable to prepare young people to succeed?

Of the 917,000 students in Missouri, more than 400,000 can’t read or write at grade level, which does not meet my standards.  The best way to improve, from my experience in the private sector, is to have fair and honest competition; which charter schools are providing and giving more choices to parents in need.


Ryan Tucker, a parent of a child in both a St. Louis public school and a charter school

“Good Morning Ms. McCann, We wanted to take a moment to recognize you on Administration Appreciation day.  Thank you so much for all that you do to make our school a place that our children love to be daily.  You are usually one of the first faces that is seen at GSA and you do a marvelous job of making our school feel so welcoming.  We greatly appreciate your dedication in making GSA a safe and thriving learning environment for them.  You have always been a great advocate for Ava and William, and as a result, school feels more like an extension of our family.  We look forward to many more years with GSA! Enjoy your day!” – Dana & Chad Stuemke

“Mr. Turan, I appreciate the solid Math instruction you are providing the students SO MUCH!  Justin is having such an easy time in Middle school because of the solid curriculum base and Jacob is learning/performing effectively, as well.I also appreciate the way you are ALWAYS smiling when I see you after school – even after a long day of teaching! I could write an essay singing GSA praises! – Rebekah Backowski

We are very pleased with our small charter school. It feels like community – everyone at the school knows my kids, all of the faculty and administration are happy and supportive, and as a result, my kids feel safe and secure at their school. I love that every single morning they are greeted at the front door by name and with a smile and often a hug. With my new job being outside of the city (in Illinois) we frequently discuss moving – but we remain where we are because I know my kids are part of a great community and receiving an excellent education. I love that all the families are there because they choose to be there – and so we choose to be here too. Thanks always,” – Angie

“This is our first year with GSA and I have to say that we are just as excited every day to come to school as we were when we first got to see the school at the kindergarten breakfast. We instantly felt like part of the “”family”” and continue to feel that way. Sydney is excited to goto school every day and every night is excited for the next day. I have to thank you and the staff for be so warm and inviting making us feel so comfortable! We cannot wait to grow in the years to come with GSA!

I also have to tell you that Ms. Whaley is a wonderful teacher, and we couldn’t be happier with the teacher we were given! She is absolutely amazing with all the students, and greets the parents with a smile every afternoon. Sydney looks up and admires her so much. Teachers have such an impression on our little ones, and knowing that Sydney has such a role model to look up to makes us ecstatic.

Thank you to Ms. McCann for greeting us every morning with a smile and a friendly hello! ” – Tara Watson, Parent

My daughter has been at GSA since kindergarten and is now in 2nd grade, I couldn’t be happier with the school. My son went to a few different public schools in the area and I never felt involved nor did I feel like they were there to help him, every meeting was negative. He started GSA in 5th grade and now in 7th. I can honestly say every meeting has been nothing but positive!!! GSA has been amazing and I feel overwhelmed at times with being involved, but it a good way! Thank you all so much! C. Schaefer

“Ms. McCann,
I wasn’t sure who to email but I wanted to let you know that GSA has some amazing teachers. My son Lance is absolutely terrified of thunderstorms. I had emailed his teacher, Ms. Wensler letting her know to be prepared for a melt down during yesterdays storms. Ms. Wensler reassured me that she would keep an eye on him and keep him comfortable. After the storms she took time to email me back to let me know that Lance did get a little upset and while she taught her class she allowed him to sit by her until he felt ‘safe’ enough to sit in his seat again. This isn’t the first time that she has taken time out of her busy schedule to make sure my son feels safe. My husband is a police officer and during the Ferguson situation my husband was not only keeping the city safe but also Ferguson. I had spoke with Ms. Wensler about the situation we were in and about Lance’s anxiety. She again kept an eye on him and continued to keep me updated. I truly appreciate all the hard work Ms. Wensler has done for my son. From being an amazing educator, but also a great friend to him and making sure he is safe and comfortable during school.
I’m not sure if there is an award she can receive but Ms. Wensler deserves some type of recognition for all her hard work. Thank you for taking time for reading this email and for hiring great educators.

Thank you,
Courtney RoethlisbergerParent

We love this school and have since it opened! Improvements are happening daily! Mr. Celik is the best! Good job, GSA! – 2nd grade, Parent

I love that if I have a concern about my son that I am able to talk to his teachers and other staff members. I appreciate Ms. McCann and how she keeps an eye on our children. – LaShieke WhiteParent

I had surgery last summer that prevented me from driving all of 2014 fall semester. We would like to thank GSA for helping us find other parents who helped us each day. Blessings to all of you! – Phil BenderParent

I enjoy seeing the children being dropped off each morning being greeted in the parking lot with smiles, high fives and hugs from the staff! – Kindergarten, Parent

“I like the clubs after school. My favorite part of school is math because I like learning. I enjoy seeing the children happy and excited to go to school!” Aubrey Bess & Anne Dreifke, Parent

We love Ms. Williams and all of the educators and staff that we have dealt with. Really good communication with the email and phone alert system. Everyone is always pleasant and has made the kindergarten transition such a good experience! – Amber, Parent

Everything has been great! Mrs. Cates is an amazing teacher and has been instrumental in helping our son become successful in school. She has really gone out of her way to help. Thank you! – Kindergarten, Parent

Teachers are excellent! Our experience with staff has been great! – Kelly Schober, Parent

I love the breakfasts you have for each grade! It gives up quality time with our children, without rushing around, and a place they spend a lot of their time and effort. You show us that this a collaborative effort, which is so important in a child’s education! Thank you! – Hayley Pike, Parent

I think it is awesome that GSA takes the time to do a breakfast with the parents. I know my child loves it! – Crystal Smith, Parent

Love this school! It has great parental/family support and creates a very positive learning environment. – Parent

Greatly appreciate the parent breakfasts. I was able to meet many of my son’s classmates and their parents. Thank you for all that you do for our children. – Parent

I might not have done everything right as a parent but sending my child here was the best thing I could have done! Great school! – Parent

I have always had great experiences here. My son loves this school and he has tons of friends. Hopefully things will continue to stay the same. – 2nd grade, Parent

Teachers are awesome! My child feels safe at school and is learning a lot. I feel great sending my child here! – 2nd grade, Parent

My experience with GSA has been positive. Keep up the excellent work! – 2nd grade, Parent

I think all of the teachers and staff are doing a wonderful job. Keep up the great work! – Visitor

We are happy with GSA Smiley! I love that we are encouraged to donate canned goods, clothing, etc. I like that all parents are allowed at holiday parties. – The Nerzweilers, Parent

“I love this school and like the new ideas and programs that the teachers and staff come up with!” – Julie Price

“I love the club activities! It gives the children a choice on what interests them most in terms of extra-curricular activity. ” – E. Pearson

“GSA is a great school! My son has attended since 1st grade and he loves it! Teachers and staff have always been nice and friendly. ” – 5th Grade

“I have always loved GSA’s curriculum. I believe that the kids are learning so much! Communication between the school and home is appreciated very much. ” – 5th Grade

“GSA has been a wonderful experience! The teachers have been fabulous and professional. I couldn’t be more pleased! ” – 5th Grade

“I love the breakfasts with the students! I also love the emails that I get from my children’s teachers. It really helps me know what they are doing every day.” – 5th Grade

“My son, Hayden Markham, has just started his kindergarten year at GSA and my wife and I are very pleased with how much knowledge he has obtained in such a short time and how enjoyable the school experience has been. He loves to tell us about the new things that he learns at school and it’s great that he genuinely enjoys going to school every day. I recently traveled with GSA on a field trip to the St. Louis Zoo and I could tell that the teachers enjoyed their job and really did care about the children that they were teaching. We had heard a lot of good things about GSA before enrolling him and I’m glad to have discovered that they are all true. I would recommend the school to my friends and fellow parents in a heartbeat. ” – Aaron Markham, Parent

“My grandson has done very well at GSA. It has been a great experience for us. We are so glad you are here! ” – Grandma Spies, Visitor

“Parent breakfasts are a great opportunity to see class parents, children and teachers. It is a time to learn about school activities and events. Thank you for coordinating events like these! ” – Mayumi Chitwood, Parent

“GSA has been a wonderful change for all 4 of my children! Keep it up! ” – Ali McMurry, Parent

“We are very happy at GSA. We feel like our daughter is doing very well and that the teachers pay special attention to individual needs. We didn’t start her here but are very grateful that we ended up here! – Staci McBride, Parent

“We love GSA! Our daughter has thrived since coming to GSA from another school. We love the teachers and how all the kids are kind to one another. We highly recommend GSA! ” – Karen Schindler, Parent

“We have been lucky enough to have been in the first Kindergarten class at GSA and we have enjoyed seeing amazing growth over the years! It is great being part of the success. We look forward to the future!” – Rivera Family, Parent

“The parent breakfast is a wonderful idea! I love to spend time with my son at school.” – 3rd Grade Parent

“I love this school! Recess is so much fun! I get to play with my BFFs–YAY!!! ” – Ava Adams, Student

“This school has so many great functions throughout the year! Thank you.” – 3rd Grade, Parent

“My daughters both enjoy their school experience. ” – Scott Polson

“GSA is doing a great job! We really like the administration and how involved the teachers are with the students. ” – Kristi Conrath, Parent

“We love GSA! Ms. Reaka is awesome and always keeps us informed and up to date. ” – Cora Baggett, Parent

“The teachers are the foundation of the school. I have been extremely impressed with how nice and caring the staff is. My son has always looked forward to going to school, that is HUGE! ” – Melissa Ima, Parent

“GSA is an awesome school! I love it here. Everything is awesome. All the teachers are great! I love GSA! ” – Abrar Sait, Student

“Keep up the great work on parent involvement! ” – 2nd Grade Parent, Parent

“Thank you to the teachers for teaching every student in the school! ” – Shelby Bove, Student

“Teachers at GSA are awesome! My child feels safe at school and is learning a lot. I feel great sending my child here!” – 2nd Grade Parent

“We are happy with GSA Smiley! I love that we are encouraged to donate canned goods, clothing, etc. I like that ALL parents are allowed at classroom parties. ” – The Merzweiler Family, Parent

“ I think that all of the teachers and staff are doing a wonderful job. Keep up the great work! ” – 2nd Grade Parent

“My experience with GSA has been positive. Keep up the excellent work!” – 2nd Grade Parent

“We love GSA! Great school with the perfect community feeling we were looking for. ” – 2nd Grade, Parent

“Ms. McCann is a wonderful asset to the school. She is easy to talk with, open to new suggestions and understanding of problems. ” – 2nd Grade, Parent

“Love all the commitment of the teachers and staff! ” – 2nd Grade, Parent

“I feel that GSA is a beautiful school…so generous, thoughtful, a real community with one goal…to do and be all that we can for our children. GO GATORS! ” – 2nd Grade, Parent

“GSA is a great place to feel safe and to be a part of a great community! I have taught at GSA for three years now and I have watched GSA grow tremendously in such a little amount of time. I walk around the halls and I see great teachers doing what they love best, and being the best that they can be for our GSA students! Our staff works very hard to ensure our students succeed not only while they are here at GSA, but in their futures as well. Our students love coming to school and being a part of such an amazing team!! ” – Ms. Reaka, GSA Staff

“The teachers are awesome! GSA has such a fun atmosphere, with a positive emphasis on learning and safety.  I have never met a group of more caring people than the ones who dedicate their lives to teaching our children at GSA.  The whole staff really gets into the spirit of dressing up in character, which the kids love. My kids have learned so much in their time at GSA, and made great friends!  I love this school.” – Laurie Adams, Parent.

“GSA is nothing short of amazing. The whole experience has been nothing short of wonderful! Great, knowledgeable, truly caring staff…wow! This school has completely blown me away as a parent of 2 school age children. My kids have learned so much from going to this school and being with these teachers, I am forever thankful!”  – Kristin Flanery, Parent

“GSA has really good teachers!  They know more stuff than teachers at any other school.  Our teachers let us do fun things!  We even get to do summer school with them!” – Delanie Gallagher, Student

“I like GSA because I get to meet friends and teachers.  There is so much to explore when I am at school!  I have no explanation, but I just LOVE IT here!” – Anna Heiple, Student

“It’s fun at GSA!  We do lots of projects that help us learn.  And most of all, I have the best teacher ever!  I just love Ms. McCann and she loves me!” – Jenesis Townes, Student

“As the students here know, GSA ROCKS!  I have been a part of GSA since the beginning, before there were desks, air conditioning, parents and students.  Initially, there were 3 staff members and a principal and we worked tirelessly to make things happen!  We went door to door, telling people about Concept Schools and especially GSA.  We searched the phone book for people living in our target zip codes and called them.  We held Town Hall meetings, for few and then for many.  And that is how it began!

Three years later, GSA continues to grow!  We no longer have to tell people about us, they already know!  There is no need for recruiting, we have a waiting list!

The staff at GSA have a voice and an opinion!  This is a wonderful change for me!  My co-workers and I are able to have input when it comes to choosing curriculum and materials.  We are allowed to put the Best Practices to work every day.

My students are excited about learning!  Many ask why we have to be off on weekends and holidays.  They want the chance to learn more!

Parents at GSA are extremely supportive, going above and beyond!  I have no hesitancy to call a parent and ask for help or supplies.

The staff works well together!  We are a team, striving for the same goal!

As I said at the beginning, GSA ROCKS!” – Kathie McCann, Teacher

“As the only PAWS team at GSA in Ms. McCann’s first grade class for the last 3 years, I can only say that my experiences with GSA has been excellent.  My OES, Heart and myself has always been welcomed and felt very comfortable as we  walk in the front door being greeted by the office staff, to walking down the hall and see the smiles and nods from teachers and children, to standing outside Ms. McCann’s class as the children get a glimpse of Heart waiting to begin ‘working’ with the children.

I have been able to see the progress of all of the children’s’ reading progress from the 2nd week in October, to our last visit before summer vacation. Heart (and I) have made many friends.  I feel the children who are able to attend the PAWS program at GSA will always remember the year they had a special 4 legged friend in their class for the whole school year. Thank you GSA for being open to new, exciting programs to help your children learn in a very fun way!!!!!” – Val Anania and Heart”, Visitor

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