Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The North Augusta High School freshman academy has gotten through its first year.
In that time, the results have been positive, and there have also been some new things that were learned.
The 2016 class is the first to start with the program. The goal is simple: to help students make the transition from middle school to high school and to make that as seamless as possible.
“There have been some good things coming in with our numbers that are coming in, 96 percent of our freshman went on to sophomore year,” said assistant principal Paige Day, who also doubles as the director of the academy. “We also saw increases in the end-of-course testing for English I and Algebra I, which are predominantly freshmen classes. Some of our interventive programs, such as our Algebra I Part I and Algebra I Part II double-blocked math class helped students who had been retained their freshmen year in the 2012 year go on to be juniors. I’d say those are some successes we had.”
Melissa Rowland, guidance counselor with the freshman academy, pointed out the A+ Credit Lab Recovery program as another strong point.
“We were able to implement that at the end of the first semester,” she said. “It helped a lot with promotion rates as well.”
Starting this year, there are a number of initiatives that the school is instituting, Day said.
“We thought that everything we did worked really well,” she said. “We are going to tweak some small things. We are working toward student culture and fostering the three values of ethical, responsible and respectful behavior. We’re going to do that through modeling more than anything and changing small practices in the classroom that foster those behaviors in our students.”
She also stated that some teachers were not able to be solely dedicated to the freshman academy. This year, however, things have been moved around, and now they will be. This also means in physical proximity in that teachers that were not on the halls were moved there.
“That was based on teacher feedback,” Day said. “The teachers that were teaching in the freshman academy that had a classroom for some reason that wasn’t with the other teachers asked for it. They wanted the common planning with the other teachers. I think that’s because the response was so positive from the teachers in the academy. They wanted to make sure 100 percent what the other teachers did. We want to have the isolation locations so that teachers can be in there as much as they can.”
Rowland said everything “went so well” last year that, at this point, there is nothing really being overhauled.
Another big point of the academy was that it helped control the traffic at the school. Instead of all of the students moving through the halls at once, things were staggered to clear out the halls.
“Some of those classroom changes, we took what we saw and the complaints with traffic, tardies or noise from teachers, and we relocated some of them,” Day said.
The program has also allowed for a greater collaboration between the faculty, administration and the guidance office.
“We’re all there for the students, and that’s the best part for me,” Rowland said.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Alvernia University and currently attends Drexel University.