Harding Fine Arts Academy was founded in 2005 by visionary community leaders who believed a truly transformative education should draw from the full breadth of human experience. Harding passionately provides a free, public education that effectively combines arts and academics to advance student achievement in all areas. The mission, vision and purpose of HFAA is unmistakably a comprehensive liberal arts education that gives the same footing to the arts as it does to academics, with high expectations for both. It is through this lens that founders focused on a mission to “prepare students for college in an academically challenging, arts-integrated environment.”
Over the past nine years Harding has emerged from a fledgling startup with a skeleton staff and only 65 freshmen to over 350 students 9th-12th and a faculty of almost 30 full-time teachers, a 27% growth every year for the last five years. HFAA is a non-selective public school with enrollment open to all students in the Oklahoma City School District, and the school’s unique approach and success has generated such demand that Harding held its first lottery in March of 2012 and has maintained a wait list ever since.
Harding Fine Arts Academy was recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan along with 285 public schools across the country as a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School!
HFAA does not select students for enrollment in any program based on grades or aptitude, but placement level is dependent upon ability. All programs are open to all students 9th-12th and elective classes meet daily for the same duration as core classes. Some students seek out the arts solely as enrichment while others become state champions and achieve large scholarships to study at the university level. Both approaches are valid and support the acquisition of essential skills when you treat the arts as seriously as the academics, and academics as creatively as the arts.
There are many reasons for Harding’s success at meeting the needs of its students, but arguably its culture and approach to curriculum are the two most powerful. Our teachers and leadership believe every student has great potential and we strive to foster a culture of high expectations while providing supports for students and families focused on their needs as individuals. We understand that education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. HFAA strives to connect our students’ passions with their pursuits, and as the state’s first Oklahoma A+ demonstration school HFAA is uniquely committed to exemplify the eight OKA+ essentials: Arts-Integration, Curriculum, Experiential Learning, Multiple Learning Pathways, Enriched Assessment, Collaboration, Infrastructure, and Climate. HFAA seeks to recognize the genius in each student and it is this approach that encourages and challenges all students to develop their full potential.
Navigating high school and transitioning to adulthood is not an easy task. From the moment a student enrolls they are assigned to a faculty advisor for all four years that they meet with twice every week. Harding provides after-school tutoring every day through teachers and NHS peer-tutoring. The school runs a missing assignment report each week and provides an academic intervention on Fridays to help support the completion of assignments and subject mastery. Harding’s Parent Liaison connects weekly with struggling students and their parents to help keep students on task, identify non-curricular issues affecting achievement, and help students build personal resilience. Additionally, HFAA hosts a series of grade specific evenings throughout the year to inform and support parents as well.
To prepare our students for life beyond our walls every senior is enrolled in a Capstone class designed to navigate students in their post-secondary search. In this class seniors research and apply to colleges/universities, meet with representatives, and travel to various campuses. Students and parents review and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and learn about and apply for scholarship opportunities. During the spring semester students are taken through a comprehensive financial literacy class to help prepare them for independent life. The culmination of this program is a community service/student-leadership project each student plans, executes, and then presents to a faculty panel.
For the 2014- 2015 school year, HFAA had a 98% graduation rate. Ninety-two percent of the graduating seniors enrolled in college after graduation with 55% enrolling in a 4-year college or university.
Harding’s mission to develop student for the challenges of college begin in the classroom. Reading, writing, and critical thinking is emphasized across the curriculum. HFAA offers fourteen AP/preAP courses and eight advanced visual/performing arts classes to challenge students. With over 80 electives to choose from, students can grow academically, artistically, and physically through classes from Martial Arts to Photography, or Modern Dance to Creative Writing. Not only do students in our programs continually achieve at high levels, but they gain personal confidence and grow socially and culturally by putting their skills into practice in their own community. HFAA students and parents provide over 10,000 community service hours per year to local non-profits.
Harding has grown tremendously in its arts, academics and achievements. This focus on continual improvements has seen the school's state assessment grow from a "B+" in 2011-12 to an "A" in 2012-13, and an "A+" for 2013-14. Most notable has been HFAA's Bottom Quartile Student Growth, which represents the growth rate in students coming to the school already struggling. Now in its tenth year, HFAA has become not only one of the highest achieving high schools in Oklahoma City, but it has also been named by US News & World Report as one of the top ten high schools in the state. In 2015, Harding Fine Arts Academy Charter High School was been ranked among the top 500 high schools in the nation according to Newsweek.com. But most importantly, are the individual successes of our students. HFAA's innovative curriculum and ongoing commitment merges to develop each student to their full potential through high expectations, research-based innovations, and a high-quality, creative faculty.