The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Education

May 13, 2014

ACS Success Academy testimonials move school board, audience members

Smaller classes, extra time cited in grade turnarounds

ANDERSON — When Marquise Peak entered Anderson High School this year as a freshman, he struggled with low grades and an inability to concentrate on his work.

Fortunately, the 16-year-old knew what the solution might be.

He wanted to be moved into the Success Academy at the high school.

Marquise was in the Success Academy at Highland Middle School and knew from experience smaller classes and extra time would mean the difference between academic success and failure.

He was one of a handful of students from both programs who told their stories to a packed meeting of the Anderson Community Schools Board of Trustees Tuesday.

"There's a lot more one-on-one attention and the teachers listen to what you're struggling with," Marquise said.

The youth said he wants to study history in college and later pursue a career in education.

"I want to become a teacher and help other people who are struggling just like I was struggling and helped by my teachers," Marquise said.

Stories like his are "just the tip of the iceberg," said Matt Goen, dean of the AHS Success Academy, which was modeled on Highland's program.

Bryan Halladay, a seventh-grader at Highland, told board members and the audience he also struggled with low grades and disciplinary referrals, but made a quick turnaround when he was referred to the Success Academy.

His grade point average improved from 1.1 to 4.0. "The Success Academy has some of the best teachers a kid could have," he said.

Many teachers from both programs, as well as parents, were in the room to hear these and other testimonials.

Highland's program has 140 students and 16 classroom teachers, said Kelly Durr, principal at Highland. The high school program has 75 students and seven classroom teachers, said Amanda Keegan, instructional coach.

In other achievements the board took note that 12 ACS third-graders earned perfect scores on the IREAD-3 test this spring.

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