Essence Preparatory Public School is a tuition-free public school on the Eastside of San Antonio that opened in August 2022. Essence Prep will scale to pre-kindergarten through 8th grades and was created to meet Black and Brown children’s educational, social, and emotional needs. Essence Prep has begun accepting applications for enrollment for the 2023–24 school year. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about Essence Prep in San Antonio and take steps to enroll your children for the coming school year.
About Essence Prep
Through rigorous academics, intentional character development, and cultivating student knowledge of self, Essence Preparatory Charter School prepares all students in grades PK–8 for high school, college, and beyond as leading agents of change in their communities.
Essence Prep was founded in 2020 by Superintendent Akeem Brown (he/him/his). Brown has dedicated his career to serving students living in San Antonio’s Eastside. By founding a school, he seeks to provide his students with pathways to opportunities that he feels are lacking in many areas of the city.
Essence Prep uses a project-based learning model that focuses on public policy. Students grapple with real-world issues and develop the skills necessary to be effective agents of change. The school is establishing community-building traditions like morning circle meetings and weekly family gatherings. Teachers use a “whole self” curriculum to teach social and emotional learning skills. “Our school should be an environment where children learn the skills they need to advocate for themselves and the needs of their communities after graduation,” said Brown.
“We hold ourselves accountable to the highest performance standards in pursuit of success,” Brown continued. “We must always set expectations as high as possible and become comfortable struggling to achieve our goals because we know that we ‘grow our brains’ best when challenged.”
The culture at Essence Prep stays true to their core values and beliefs, RISE: Responsibility, Intellectual Investment, Service, and Excellence.
Essence Prep in San Antonio
Essence Prep will serve students in kindergarten through 6th grade for the 2023–24 school year. They will add another grade level each year until the school serves grades PK–8.
Essence Prep opened in August 2022 on the Eastside of San Antonio in a temporary location in St. Benedict Catholic Church at 4535 Lord Rd., San Antonio, TX 78220 (map). They are serving 149 scholars in grades PK–5 during the 2022–23 school year.
The main phone number is 210-997-5636. You can reach them online through the contact form at the foot of their website, essenceprepsa.org. Here is the 2022–23 calendar. There is no school report card data available yet because the school is so new.
Download the free San Antonio Charter Schools app for an interactive map that includes Essence Prep and more. You can also find campus information about the Essence Prep (and many other schools of choice) in our Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.
New Campus Building in 2024
Essence Prep plans to open its new campus at 439 SE Loop 410 for the spring semester of the 2023–24 school year. Plans call for constructing approximately 65,000 square feet of academic and administrative space and a 6,000-square-foot gymnasium. The two-story building will accommodate up to 1,100 students in grades PK–8. The site will also include a playground and field.
Enroll at Essence Prep
Families can apply online to enroll their children at Essence Prep. Open enrollment for the 2023–24 school year began on February 15, 2023 and continues through March 15, 2023. Essence Prep’s student lottery will be held on April 18, 2023. Students who are selected will receive an email inviting them to register. Students who are not selected will be placed on a waiting list and notified if a spot becomes available. Find more information in the enrollment FAQs.
Essence Prep is a tuition-free public charter school. In addition, they provide each student with four sets of school uniforms at the beginning of the school year. Essence Prep provides free transportation to students living within a five-mile radius of the campus.
There will be in-person and virtual events in the community during application season for families to learn more about Essence Prep. Families can get more information, or ask for help with their applications, by calling 210-997-5613 or sending an email to Damika Burton, Director of Family Engagement and Enrollment, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We recommend following Essence Prep on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for event notifications and school updates.
In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about Essence Prep.
Facts About Essence Prep
With a wealth of experience, expertise and talent, the team at Essence Prep is paving the way and building success for today, tomorrow, and the future. The staff instills and embraces joy and excellence in their students by teaching character development with a culturally affirming curriculum to foster student’s growth. Essence Prep has highly qualified, caring staff who bring subject matter expertise and unwavering commitment to set each student on a path to success. They have intentionally hired staff who not only have the expertise but mirror and have roots in the community in which they teach.
The team at Essence Prep wants to bring students safely to in-person instruction because they believe the students benefit the most from in-person learning. The school is being built with the highest level of safety for students due to COVID-19, with features such as touchless sinks, toilets, and doors.
A typical class at Essence Prep has 28–30 students, with two teachers per class in grades K–2.
Charter Moms Chats
Akeem Brown, Superintendent of Essence Prep, and Jennipha “Jae” Ricks, Chief Learning Officer and Principal of Essence Prep, join Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on February 28, 2023 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Akeem Brown is the founder and Superintendent of Essence Prep—and one of the youngest superintendents in Texas. Akeem Brown (he/him/his) has dedicated his career to serving students living in San Antonio’s Eastside. By founding a school, he seeks to provide his students with the pathways to opportunities he feels are lacking in many areas of the city. Essence will utilize a project-based learning model that focuses on public policy. Students will grapple with real-world issues and develop the skills necessary to be effective agents of change. The school will also adopt community-building traditions like morning circle meetings and weekly family gatherings and use a “whole self” curriculum to teach social and emotional learning skills. “Our school should be an environment where children learn the skills they need to advocate for themselves and the needs of their communities after graduation.
Jennipha “Jae” Ricks is the Chief Learning Officer and Principal of Essence Prep. Mrs. Ricks is a native Texan and has a proven record of creating curriculum and leading schools. Before her new role at Essence Prep, she was the Principal of Brentwood STEAM School of Innovation in Edgewood ISD. She also served as the assistant principal at Young Women’s Leadership Primary and an elementary math instructional specialist for SAISD. Mrs. Ricks plans to prepare students through a specifically designed curriculum. She says Essence Prep will focus on social-emotional learning, group work, project-based work, and individualized learning. She looks forward to instructing teachers at Essence Prep to focus on building relationships and trust first with students.
Read More About Essence Prep
- “Essence Preparatory Public School to construct $17.7M permanent campus in East San Antonio,” Digital Journal, November 30, 2022
- “Essence Prep secures nearly $18M to fund new East SA campus,” W. Scott Bailey, San Antonio Business Journal, November 10, 2023
- “Inspiring Conversations with Akeem Brown of Essence Preparatory Public School,” Voyage San Antonio, October 19, 2022
- “Our Kids Are Scholars,” Trymaine Lee, Into America, September 8, 2022
- “CRT Law Undermines Texas Charter School for Black and Latino Students,” Aasimah Navlakhi, 74 Million, May 11, 2022
- “The Essence of Essence Prep: Cultivating Leading Agents of Change,” Jennipha Ricks, San Antonio Charter Moms, April 20, 2022
- “Charter Moms Chats — Essence Prep Founding Scholars, With Jae Ricks,” YouTube, February 8, 2022
- “A proposed Texas charter school promised to be antiracist. Then it got caught up in the critical race theory fight,” Matt Barnam, Chalkbeat, January 6, 2022
- “Building Agency: How Akeem Brown Is Helping Kids See Their Strengths at Essence Prep,” San Antonio Charter Moms, December 16, 2021
- “New charter school to serve San Antonio’s East Side in 2022,” Brooke Crum, San Antonio Report, July 15, 2021
- “Leading SA: Akeem Brown talks East Side developments, future of education in San Antonio,” Max Massey, KSAT, April 11, 2021
- “Akeem Brown is out to strengthen community, education,” Ed Arnold, San Antonio Business Journal, March 25, 2021
- “Making a Difference: Akeem Brown, Essence Prep,” Robyn Oguinye, FOX San Antonio, February 22, 2021
- “Akeem Brown: Serving San Antonio with Love, Justice, and Peace,” BES, February 2021
- “San Antonio’s Brown is one of the new young leaders advocating for the East Side,” Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, February 26, 2017