Dr. Artesius Miller, Executive Director of Utopian Academy, Lands National Fellowship 

Date Released: August 7, 2017

Dr. Artesius Miller’ 11, founder and executive director of Utopian Academy for the Arts, was selected for a prestigious fellowship program that supports exceptional leaders who have the potential to shape the future of the national educational excellence and equity movement.

The program, the “NextGen Network,” is a year-long leadership development opportunity for diverse executives in the public education and nonprofit sector. Between 20 to 25 leaders enter the program’s training cohorts through a competitive nomination process twice a year. 

Dr. Miller was selected for the NextGen Network’s Spring 2017 Cohort. He has begun to network with program fellows from across the country, including education executives in the San Antonio Independent School District, the East Harlem Scholars Academies, the New Mexico Public Education Department, the Teach for America office of Oakland, Calif. office, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. 

Dr. Miller has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Morehouse College, a Master of Arts degree in education leadership from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia. He is also the former education program director for the Steve Harvey National Mentoring Program for Young Men.

The NextGen Network is funded by The Pahara Institute, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify, strengthen, and sustain diverse high potential leaders who are reimagining public education so that every child in America has access to an excellent public school.

“It is important to cultivate and support leaders who bring diverse voices and perspectives, particularly those who represent communities that are currently not well served by our public schools,” The NexGen website states. “By identifying individuals who can amplify underrepresented voices, and providing them with high-level leadership development and networking opportunities, this program encourages and supports those who will become senior leaders in the field and helps strengthen the educational equity and excellence movement.”

Miller will continue his work as a NextGen fellow as he leads Utopian Academy.

“It was an honor to be named as a NextGen fellow,” Dr. Miller said. “Participation in the program will allow Utopian Academy for the Arts to develop new partnerships with similar schools across the country. It will also give me the platform to share the Utopian Academy story with other education leaders who have a vision to open a charter school to provide educational options for students in under-served communities.” 

Utopian Academy’s petition to open as a public school was denied three times by the Clayton County School board in 2011, 2012, and 2013 because of concern about the competition for students. The school district’s denial was overruled by the state in October 2013 when the State Charter Schools Commission granted Utopian Academy the authority to serve students for five years as a free public charter school. It was the first charter school to win approval from the new commission and the state’s first charter middle school for the arts. 

But when Utopian Academy was scheduled to open its doors in August 2014, Dr. Miller faced another roadblock on the first day of school. City of Riverdale government officials insisted that the public school needed a business license and additional inspections to operate when the school already had received a green light from the state.

Utopian Academy’s challenging start inspired new Georgia legislation to protect state-approved charter schools. Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill in April 2015 called the "Utopian Academy for the Arts Act" that prohibits local governments from forcing public charter schools approved and inspected by the state from to be required to obtain any additional licenses from local governments to operate their school. 

Utopian is currently in its fourth year of operation. The school’s college prep curriculum is designed to produce students who are well rounded in the arts and well prepared for success in high school. Students tackle core subjects and also take classes in theatre, visual art, dance, culinary arts, music, broadcast video production, and journalism.

“Our amazing parents, teachers, and support staff have helped Utopian Academy to overcome obstacles as we have fought to open our doors to educate students,” Dr. Miller said. “That teamwork has made Utopian Academy the vibrant free public charter school that it is today.” 

Last Modified: August 7, 2017, 10:08 AM, by: Synera Shelton

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