A Georgia Family Connection Collaborative

Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children

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A.Z. Kelsey not the ‘alternative school’

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A.Z. Kelsey Academy and Achievement Center has three components, explained Principal Stephanie Evans.

When speaking to the Educational Prosperity Initiative, Evans said there are the middle and high schools, and the A.Z. Kelsey Academy. A.Z. Kelsey Achievement Center replaces the alternative school, she said.

Evans said A.Z. Kelsey was formed in 2007, has had 100 graduates so far, with graduations twice a year in December and May. “We’re working with students to reach their goal of graduation,” she said.

“Our students utilize multiple learning models,” she said, “using blended learning, online, ingenuity and direct instruction,” or what she called “personalized learning.”

A.Z. Kelsey Academy students are there by choice, and can apply to attend. These are students who want or need additional credits. “It gives them a choice and a voice in the learning process. They set a goal, create a plan on how to learn, then engage in it, and show what they learned.”

Then Evans said, “they reflect. They have to be honest with themselves on what they learned and what they did. The students are able to attend the College and Career Academy, have dual enrollment, and there’s a business pathway where they can earn a business CTE credit. The Academy also has service learning, in a partnership with Moore Elementary School.”

The Academy, Evans said, has current maximum number of 90 students. The numbers at the Achievement Center are based on need, with class size maximum of 15 students. This past semester there were 70 in the high school and 60 in the middle school.

Those at the Achievement Center, Evans said “have difficulties at their base school and are assigned to us, for a semester or year, depending on the infraction. We work on behavior conflict resolution, with awards for attendance and behavior.”

Each student is also assigned a mentor in the building, Evans said, explaining “we assign each student to a teacher for mentoring, and the teacher meets with them to make sure they are on track.”

The goal is for them to return to their base school, Evans said.

“A behavior specialist follows the student back to base school and works with them so the things helpful to them at our school are part of the transition process,” she said.

Sometimes, she said, the smaller environment helps them, and they stay. The Achievement Center has progressive discipline, and there is an online program so they are not expelled from school, Evans said, also noting for many the Achievement Center is their last chance.

Evans said there are “wrap-around services for students and family to make sure they are successful.”