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In This Vision of Education, Students Are Empowered to Love Learning and Themselves

The founder of a charter school slated to open in 2023 in southeast Atlanta aims to make school a welcoming place for students and the community.

In This Vision of Education, Students Are Empowered to Love Learning and Themselves

The founder of a charter school slated to open in 2023 in southeast Atlanta aims to make school a welcoming place for students and the community.

June 17, 2022
Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz headshot

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

Managing Director, Film + Video Projects

Marquita Brown

Marquita Brown

Senior Editor, One Day Digital

She has spent her career in the classroom, but lately, it’s also fitting to see Ebony Payne Brown (Metro Atlanta ’06) in a hard hat and a reflective vest, strolling between the steel beams that will reinforce the walls of the school she is developing from the ground up. 

In this space, she’s a visionary and, at least figuratively, she’s an architect.

Payne Brown is the founder and leader of PEACE Academy charter school, which is slated to open in southeast Atlanta in 2023. She is overseeing every detail of the school’s renovation and development, from the conception of PEACE to securing the lease for the site where that idea will become tangible. The building that will house PEACE is undergoing the first phase of renovations, and even in the space that’s mostly wires and the skeletal frames of rooms, Payne Brown sees the greater vision.

“This building is designed to set up our students for success,” she said. “We deeply believe in making sure that our students feel loved and cared for, and that they feel they can be themselves within the building.” 

That belief reflects the school’s core values: love, self-awareness, excellence, community, and inclusiveness. 

The school’s broader mission is also incorporated into its name. PEACE, an acronym for Promoting Educational and Cultural Empowerment, will tie in field trips to help broaden students’ perspectives. It may also be the only public school in Georgia with an Afrocentric focus, Payne Brown said. She envisions PEACE as a place where students’ identities will be honored, their minds will be nurtured through rigorous instruction, and their eyes will be opened to the world and their unique places within it. She also wants the surrounding community to see PEACE as an asset. 

The school, she said, is “100 percent what I wanted for my son.” She plans for her son, Kingston, to attend PEACE Academy after it opens. Payne Brown said she trusts that PEACE will be a place where Kingston will excel academically, “be affirmed in his Blackness,” and sustain a love of learning. She has a similar vision for the students who eventually will enter the school’s doors. 

Payne Brown dabbed away tears as she talked about the difficult journey and the PEACE team’s hard work toward the goal of getting the school ready to open.  

“It’s just powerful.”

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