The Chester Charter School for the Arts
 /  CCSA


The Chester Fund founded The Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA) in 2012 with a mission to prepare the children of Chester to employ their intellectual and creative powers to enrich their community. Initially serving 320 students in grades K-6, CCSA currently enrolls 650 students in grades K-12. In September 2017, CCSA moved into a new home on Highland Avenue, just south of I-95 on the west side of Chester. The new school campus allows CCSA to broaden and deepen programmatic offerings through facilities built to match the needs of a K-12 arts-integrated school. It brings long-term stability and new opportunities that will enrich an already powerful program, put additional resources into the hands of our dedicated faculty, and serve as a beacon in the community. Importantly, this new development also sends a powerful message to our students, families and neighbors that they deserve beautiful, well-resourced schools, just as all children do.

CCSA’s Vision

CCSA’s vision is for all students to graduate prepared for continued growth at either a selective college, a conservatory, a technical school, or the military. To accomplish this vision, the School’s program is built around four pillars:
  • Scholarship– Students will meet or exceed the standards for proficiency in all academic areas and demonstrate scholarly habits.
  • Strong Character– Students will exhibit integrity, empathy, and a commitment to serving their community.
  • Craftsmanship– Students will develop the skills required to create academic and artistic works of high quality craftsmanship.
  • Purpose– Students will develop a sense of purpose and design clear action plans for their academic/career pursuits post-graduation.

CCSA Today, Summer 2018

The Chester Fund’s magazine, CCSA Today, is published twice a year for friends of The Chester Charter School for the Arts. CCSA Today contains updates, feature stories and interviews with CCSA’s community members and a glimpse of school life today. The current issue can be accessed here. Past editions are available by request.

Cover of the Summer 2018 issue of CCSA Today

A Day in the Life of a CCSA Scholar

Our Approach

The CCSA Approach – Arts Integration

The Chester Charter School for the Arts offers a rigorous academic education through an arts-integrated model. Arts integration is the combining of an artistic discipline with a traditional classroom subject to deepen, broaden, and encourage learning. Research shows that children with extensive arts experience outperform their peers in attendance and earn higher GPAs and SAT scores. Intensive arts practice develops executive function—those cognitive processes including memory, attention, and delayed gratification, that help students achieve their goals and lead to greater success in adult life.

Students at CCSA benefit from full-time faculty for music, studio art, dance, and theater. All students study at least one artistic discipline daily. The impact of this intentional focus on arts practice is far-reaching:

  • Students unleash their creativity, which bolsters their critical thinking skills, enhancing their approach to all academic subjects and areas of life.
  • Students develop discipline through practice and repetition, spending many hours and weeks making and refining a work of art.
  • Students grow their communication skills, personal presentation skills, leadership attributes, and the ability to work well in teams through their individual and ensemble work in writing, art, theatre, music, and dance.
  • Faculty have greater opportunity to encourage, mentor, and critique students individually, to foster trusting teacher-student relationships that enhance each child’s learning.
  • Arts practice is therapeutic, helping to relieve the chronic stress caused by poverty. Through the arts, students become more peaceful, joyful, confident, and determined to succeed.

A Focus on Literacy

  • Literacy instruction is the cornerstone of the academic curriculum at CCSA. Literacy underpins academic and personal-social development. The earlier and better children can read, the more they learn in all areas, the more self-directed they become in their learning, and the more confidently they express themselves verbally and in writing.
  • CCSA provides tailored instruction and special attention to meet students’ individual literacy needs. All students at the School are reading books matched to their reading achievement level, diminishing low reader’s frustration and allowing all readers to experience daily success. Student achievement is visually tracked and children are informed of their own reading level and motivated to advance through the program.
  • Poor urban children often begin school reading two years below grade-level. At CCSA, students performing significantly below their grade level expectation receive intensive instruction and support beyond the classroom. Struggling students meet daily in small groups with one of five reading specialists, where they build language, decoding, fluency, and comprehension skills.
  • Every student’s accomplishments in reading are publicly celebrated at the end of each year, recognizing each child’s improvement at their own level.

CCSA Leadership


Akosua Watts


Barbara Klock, M.D. | PRESIDENT
Marilyn Henkelman | VICE PRESIDENT
Scott Beaumont | TREASURER
Ramona Jones | SECRETARY
Donald Delson
Dion Lewis
Ellen Milgrim, Ed.D.
Steve Piltch, Ed.D.
Joan Richards
Ian Wilcox, M.Ed
Akosua Watts, Ex-Officio

Picture a School

Explore The Chester Fund’s efforts to transform the City of Chester through education and the arts.


The Chester Charter School for the Arts: Dance!

Join the movement and support the arts every day at The Chester Charter School for the Arts!


Dancing Principals

In this installment of Dancing Principals, Rodney Lopez talks with Akosua Watts, principal of The Chester Charter School for the Arts. She discusses why she continues to work with Dancing Classrooms year after year and how the program affects her students’ social, emotional and academic learning.

The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts supports The Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA), an arts-integrated, academically rigorous, non-profit public charter school in the Chester Upland School District.
EIN: 20-3297449

The Chester Charter School for the Arts prepares children to employ their intellectual and creative powers to enrich their community.

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