First year at new Patriot Academy a big success
Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 8:45 am
By Katey Hopkins – Reporter | The Standard Banner Jefferson County, Tenn
The inagural year for freshmen at the new Patriot Academy was a highly-successful one, administrators say.
“Discipline is down, attendance is up, and grades are up. So all the three big hitters are really doing well,” said Dr. Scott Walker, Principal of JCHS.
For once, the freshmen of Jefferson County High School may have surpassed the upperclassmen. With a brand new facility, the freshmen flooded the halls of the Academy last August.
This is actually the third year of a freshmen academy in Jefferson County. For the first two years, the freshmen were housed in portable classrooms directly behind JCHS.
It is not so much about being separate from the upperclassmen as it is about preparing the freshmen for high school, and giving them a transitional place to do so. The school uses a team approach, much like some middle schools in the county.
“With a team of teachers working to help each student succeed, there were so many victories. The teachers worked very hard to help each student reach success,” said Assistant Principal Jennifer Sanford.
This team approach, along with the individual environment, has also helped advance the academic performance of the students. This year, the school saw a two percent increase in Algebra 1 proficiency, and English proficiency increased five percent from 75 to 80 percent.
“So, you can see academically, we have increased,” Walker said.
A highlight of this year for Sanford was seeing that 91 percent of freshmen passed all of their classes, and 97 percent passed all but one class. Over half of those students are now in summer school to complete that one class.
“All successes are indicative of the work that the teachers have put in,” said Walker.
The faculty and staff at Patriot Academy have worked to make sure the school is tailored to the freshmen and their needs.
All freshmen are required to take a course called The Freshman Experience, which helps students assess what they want in life and how to get there. It helps them realize the realities of a life budget, as well as lets them see which colleges and careers fit their interests and personalities. The Freshmen Experience also maps out the last three years of high school for the students.
“I think that’s what has helped our scores here. These kids are starting to get grounded,” Dr. Walker said of pursuing an educational and career path.
“We have challenged students to step back and look at their situations and then make a good choice for themselves – a choice that they will be pleased with in the years ahead. We want to help them make choices that will allow them to have a bright future,” Sanford said.
Having the first year behind them, Walker and Sanford see future opportunities and look forward to the second year at Patriot Academy. Though no changes will be made at the freshmen academy next year, it has set an example for the future of Jefferson County High School.
“We’re actually moving some of the concepts from the freshmen academy here,” Walker said of the main campus.
Next year, there will be school-wide (Patriot Academy and JCHS) rules. These four R’s are: be responsible, be respectful, be ready, and be receptive. Also, new academic and behavior improvement plans will be implemented, according to Walker.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of getting acquainted with all of the members of the Class of 2018,” Sanford said of next year. She also looks forward to helping each student succeed in both academics and extra-curricular activities.
As the first group of students from Patriot Academy enters JCHS this fall, familiar things will surround them. All of the renovated pods will be the same color scheme as Patriot Academy, and the students will already be familiar with The Patriot Way and other JCHS traditions.
A lot of research of similar programs went into the formation of Patriot Academy. The goal is to prepare students for college, career, and life.
“We feel pretty comfortable with what we’re doing now,” said Dr. Walker. “We’ve had good success with it.”