By Beth Duckett

Leading Edge Academy, a K-12 network of charter schools based in Gilbert, has grown by leaps and bounds since its 2002 inception

Founder Delmer Geesey, a pastor, had envisioned a top notch traditional educational program for students in the East Valley. The academy launched that year with 17 students in Gilbert, expanding in 2005 to include a campus in Queen Creek. Locations soon followed in east Mesa and Maricopa.

Today, Leading Edge Academy serves about 1,800 students on six campuses and online.

Enrollment in the publicly managed, privately funded network of schools continues to climb, with a 20 percent jump in enrollment figures for the 2016-17 school year, according to academy numbers.

Becki Krueger, operations director, attributed the growing success to a high quality of education and core values centered on excellence and character.

“It is a more holistic approach,” Krueger noted, “focusing on the character aspect, small class sizes and partnering with parents and teachers to make a successful student.”

For its curriculum, the college-prep academy relies on the latest interactive tools in technology, such as Smart Boards, computers in the classroom and supplementary internet content for each subject, administrators said.

In addition, the school advocates a “Character Counts!” program that aims to build positive character through six pillars: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

“It is part of the daily lesson plan,” Krueger said. “It’s also a part of the culture of the campus, including how we discipline students and encourage student success and how teachers model those traits. Every campus does it a little bit differently, but students are rewarded for good character and good expression of character.”

The academy offers dual enrollment opportunities, both through the Gilbert early college campus (7-12) and the virtual online academy (6-12).

Gilbert’s campus offers competitive championship sports for men and women. The Gilbert elementary (K-6) and Gilbert early college share the same address, at 717 W. Ray Road.

Students also are encouraged to participate in fundraising, charitable and social-action projects.

The Mountain View campus (grades K-5) has an annual tradition called Mountain View Give Back, when each grade level chooses and donates to an organization. In addition, the Maricopa campus (K-12) has been recognized for its active robotics program.

“We not only use the latest technology and current resources, but we maintain smaller class sizes, a family friendly atmosphere and focus on the whole student,” said Lori Anderson, education director.

Open enrollment typically occurs in February. Once classes are filled, new students are placed on a waiting list on a first come, first served basis.

The academy will host a job fair for elementary, secondary and special education teachers, para-professionals and interventionists from 5 to 8 p.m. April 6 at the Maricopa site, 18700 N. Porter Road, for positions at that campus specifically.

Job seekers will conduct interviews with administrators and should bring a copy of their resume and IVP fingerprint clearance card.

To schedule an interview, call the network offices at 480-633-0414 or email