Our Mission and Vision
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Mission Statement

Every child should taste success!  No child deserves to fail!  RLOA provides an individualized, hands-on, engaged learning environment where every child can acquire the secrets to success for college and careers. 



We seek to create and sustain a cohesive community.

Les & Karen Wicks' RLOA Story

When my husband Les and I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the documentary “Corridor of Shame,” we bought the movie and were deeply moved by the plight of Lowcountry children.  We had no idea of the historically poor conditions and low academic performance of the area.  We were appalled that so many children were falling through the cracks and we wanted to do something about it.  Our backgrounds brought a unique perspective that we thought could be brought to bear.  Both of us grew up in large families that had not much in the way of finances but had taught us the value of hard work, education, and helping those in need.  From childhood, my dream was to become a teacher, so I pursued a career in education.  Les started his first business while he was in school and went on to develop many successful businesses spanning a variety of industries over the years.  I have an extensive background in education and administration.  I hold a doctorate from New York University and have taught in middle and high school and at the college level.  In addition, I served as a college administrator and as the director for curriculum and instructional development at the College Board—the AP and SAT people, working with teachers around the country in developing more learner-centered curriculum.  I left the College Board to start a supplemental education business, with Les’s expert assistance.  I worked with children and adults with disabilities and life challenges.  Our business was so successful that we developed an education franchise. 


The movie “Corridor of Shame” turned our life upside down and headed us in a different path.  In the latter part of our working career, we wanted to provide assistance to families who could not afford supplemental education or private school.  So we set out with the passion to help public school children of the Lowcountry discover the “secrets of learning” so that they could achieve academic and lifelong success. 


For more than a year, Les and I traveled back and forth from New Jersey to the Lowcountry to meet with local school district superintendents along the I—95 corridor, the area described in the documentary.  In the process, we approached Jasper County School District Board with a proposal to assist the district in improving educational opportunities for Jasper County students. We made presentations at several Board meetings and met with the Superintendent.  Les met with numerous local business people and we held meetings with parents and community leaders to share our passion for children’s education and our educational approach to help the local school system.  The Board rejected our offer of assistance.  


When a community member asked if we had ever considered starting a charter school, we decided to explore that option.  Les met with the Director of the SC Public Charter School Alliance to understand the process and then he and I established Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences, wrote the charter application with an educational program focused on a learner-centered project-based-learning focus.  We formed a Planning Committee, met all over Jasper County with parents in community centers, fast food restaurants, literally anywhere we were allowed to share our vision and mission.  We knew from experience that every child could be successful if educators started with their strengths instead of their weaknesses and tailored education to the individual needs of students. We presented our charter application to the SC Department of Education and received approval.  We received our final approval in 2011, and used our own financial resources to plan and start-up the school as state and federal funding was being developed. 


Les and I approached Jasper County School District Board again to seek a site to build the school.  We negotiated for the abandoned Bees Creek Elementary School, but we were turned down.  A Board member mentioned the abandoned elementary school in Hardeeville, and we made an offer that was finally accepted.  In August 2012 RLOA opened its doors.

Our History
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Dr. Karen Wicks holds a Ph.D. from New York University, has taught in middle school, high school, and college level.  She was a college administrator at City University of New York and served as director for curriculum and instructional development at the College Board—the SAT people, working with teachers throughout the country in developing and implementing more learner-centered curriculum with a multidisciplinary focus.  As a learning specialist and educator for more than 40 years, Dr. Wicks has specialized in educational disciplines across the curriculum and has been training learners at all ages for many years.


Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences Charter School: 

The Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences Charter School (RLOA) opened its doors on August 20, 2012.  The majority of its student population came from the Jasper County School District, with a small number of students from Beaufort County and private schools.  More than ninety percent of the student population qualifies for free and/or reduced lunch.  One-third of the student population of 500 is Hispanic, one-third is African-American, and one-third is Caucasian.  RLOA has demonstrated that students have made gains from their previous environments, even though our students still need consistent modifications and individualized instruction to make major gains.


In order to increase the successful participation of low-income students and to build a college-seeking culture, RLOA is providing an engaged learning environment that prepares students for the twenty-first century global economy.


In accordance with the South Carolina Charter School Act of 2005, RLOA's focus is to improve student learning, increase opportunities for students, encourage the use of a variety of productive teaching methods, establish new forms of accountability, create new professional opportunities for teachers, and lead South Carolina in reaching academic excellence.


The educational program of RLOA is designed to address the individual needs of every student and serve children's diverse learning styles within a small school environment of shared core values.  Our school culture fosters academic pride, positive peer support, and a sense of personal responsibility among students, parents, teachers, staff, and other community members.  RLOA provides a positive learning environment in which children can grow to their full potential.  The integration of the arts throughout a project-based curriculum provides students with natural avenues to utilize their strengths in the service of the areas in which they need to grow.  We are currently serving Kindergarten through 9th grade, adding an additional grade level in each subsequent year.  Our 9th grade curriculum incorporates a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) focus to provide our students with the training they need to function in the modern economy.  Arts integration and project-based learning fit perfectly into this program. 


As of July 1, 2018, Royal Live Oaks Academy is authorized by the Charter Institute at Erskine. 

RLOA is a tuition-free, public charter school, and enrollment is open to any child in South Carolina.

Community Partners

We here at Royal Live Oaks understand that without the support of stakeholders in our surrounding areas, we would not be able to provide a quality education for our pupils. Listed below are a number of businesses, organizations and people that continue to offer volunteer hours, grant funding, and financial or in-kind donations in support of our educational program. We thank you, community partners, and we encourage others to reward your commitment to education with their business and support.

Click on any picture below to access more information about our community partners. 


     Wanda and Robert Davis St. Paul's and Tillman United Methodist Churches 

 Mr. Welles Murphey

Harold H. Wall, LLC  Paul and Linda Cascio   Ms. Gloria Taggart
 Ms. Kathleen Wilson JCB Construction Equipment  Steve and Joan Rountree   Robert and Jeannie Malphrus, Jr.
 American Car Care: Ridgeland, SC Mr. Don Cotnoir  Mr. Greg and Dr. Debby Chambers  Ms. Danielle Hilton, Volunteer Drama Instructor 


The Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences Charter School is authorized by the South Carolina Department of Education through the The Charter Institute at Erskine. Royal Live Oaks Academy of Arts and Sciences Public Charter School does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, religion, immigrant status, or national origin in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts andOther designated youth groups. For questions pertaining to:
1. Precious Barr - Director for Guidance & Careers, Medical Homebound Coordinator, 843-784-2630
2. Joyce Dalton - Director for Title I, III (ESOL), and VI, 843-784-2630
3. Dana Anderson - Operations & Personnel Manager, 843-784-2630
4. Shalonda Toomer - SPED Coordinator, 843-784-2630
5. Amy Kaufman - Elementary Director & RtI Coordinator, 843-784-2630
6. Darus Williams - Director for Middle School & Athletics Director, 843-784-2630
7. Lauren Traynham - Director for High School, 843-784-2630
8. Mary Morse - Registrar & PowerSchool Administrator, 843-784-2630
9. Dr. Karen Wicks - Executive Director/Principal 843-784-2630
10. Brian Morse, Chief Academic Officer, 843-784-2630
11. All of the above persons may be reached by mail at the following address: PO Box 528, Hardeeville, SC 29927
Copyright © 2018
Royal Live Oaks Academy
of the Arts and Sciences
Charter School