Redefining the Classroom

Grand Traverse Academy

Mission Statement

Grand Traverse Academy's mission is for all students to be safe, loved and learning as they achieve excellence in character and academics. Excellence is defined as:
     • prepared for responsible citizenship
     • prepared for success in higher education

Grand Traverse Academy Location

1245 Hammond Road East
Traverse City , Michigan 49686

(231) 995-0665


Grand Traverse Academy Contact Information

Susan Wagar-Dameron

(231) 932-6950

Management Company:
Full Spectrum Management, LLC
Mark Noss

Board of Directors:
President: Lesley Werth,
Vice President: Lea Piché,
Treasurer: Samer Bourdkani,
Secretary: Michael Drilling,
Trustee: Mike Rogers,

LSSU Oversight Officer:
Chris Oshelski
Executive Director Charter Schools

Charter Contract (pdf)

Grand Traverse Academy's Band Program Ends School Year on High Note

At a time when the arts are being cut from school curricula across the country due to budgetary concerns, the band program at Grand Traverse Academy is on a crescendo. Why? As Plato said, "I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but mostly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning." We agree that music is an important part of the educational process, enhancing fine motor skills, improving recall and retention of verbal information and sharpening student attentiveness. In fact, numerous studies indicate that students who participate in formal music education perform better academically, have higher selfesteem and receive more academic honors than those who do not.

Music is part of our regular curriculum starting in Preschool, and it continues through Upper Elementary. All students have the opportunity to join band in the fifth grade, and nearly 80 percent of Elementary students participate. Although our Junior High and High School offer other elective alternatives and extra-curricular activities, over a third of Secondary students continue on as members of the Cadet, Concert, Varsity, or Symphonic Bands. Because our K-12 school is housed under one roof, Secondary students are placed in a band according to proficiency on their instrument, not just by age or grade level.

Our band program has just one fund raiser per year: an event called "Jazz ‘n' Joes." Attendees enjoy a themed concert – like Big Band Swing, Disney, Adventure Movies or Fandom Heroes – and a sloppy joe dinner, largely donated by local businesses. Over its eight-year history, Jazz ‘n' Joes has raised nearly $31,000 for the purchase of timpani, a bassoon, a vibraphone, a contraalto clarinet, tubas, chimes, and timbales, as well establishing a new scholarship fund to enable students to participate in after-school and summer music education, such as camps and private lessons. Our two inaugural scholarships this year went to students who were chosen to tour Europe this summer with a select group from Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a testament to our commitment to teaching music in concert with academics.