LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When it comes to public education, a child's destiny is often decided by their zip code.
When surrounded by low achieving schools, parents who can't afford private school have few options.
In this "Raising the Bar" 13 Action News examines a school trying to change that.
Perhaps it's fitting students at Nevada Rise Academy go to school inside a church as the charter school has been an answer to parents' prayers.
"We wanted to try something different, and we are very happy," parent Georgina Picon said.
Since August, 5-year-old Autumn Adams has gone from just recognizing letters to reading complete sentences, according to her father.
"I don't think that would've happened at a public school - not in kindergarten," her father Matt Adams said.
Justin Brecht left his secure teaching job with the Clark County School District after 13 years and went out on a limb.
Brecht ended up creating Nevada Rise Academy with the school in its first year.
"Our mission is to provide something that works and prove that it is possible to educate kids at a high level no matter where they come from," Brecht said.
In real estate it's all about location and the same can be said for this charter school. As within a mile or two radius, several underperforming schools are found, and it’s those students Brecht is targeting.
"Our population is 89 percent free-reduced lunch which is below the poverty level," Brecht said.
Nevada Rise is located near Desert Inn Road and Eastern Avenue and is part of the state's achievement school district.
At the academy, there are normally two teachers in a class and school days are 2 hours longer than standard days.
"On average four hours a day for reading, two hours for math, so even if they are coming in with deficits we are catching them up," Brecht said.
The overhead is low, according to the school’s administration.
There is no religious connection, but the school sharing the building with a church helps cut down on costs.
The administration is also very limited in size.
"My cell phone is listed as the school's phone number," Brecht said.
Picon's older children went to public school. Now, she is sending her daughter Celeste to the academy.
"I saw the difference with my daughter right away," Picon said.
Because the academy is in its first year of existence, it will be a few years before test scores tell the story of its success or struggles and Brecht hopes he is building a blueprint for others to follow.
There are currently 120 students in the school, divided between kindergarten and first grade.
The plan is to add more grades in the next few years.
More information about Nevada Rise Academy can be found here or by calling 702-336-7060.