Gordon Odyssey Academy is all about second chances, and this fall there are some new wrinkles to familiar programming that enables student success.
Using state-of-the-art technology and relying upon a dedicated staff who truly cares about the well being of each student both academically and socially, the programs here offer a safety net, or buffer, that can be the difference between a student dropping out of school or earning a GED or high school diploma.
Each student has an individualized education plan (I.E.P.) that meets the needs of each student. The administrators and staff realize there is no one size fits all model in education that will work for all
Consider the Star Academy, a program tract for selected students who have been socially promoted to the eighth grade but whose academic abilities are a few years behind grade level.
Through a combination of virtual hands-on online programming and collaborative work, the students are engaged in an intense, structured learning environment with lots of individual attention.
The goal is for these students to transition back into tenth grade at a traditional high school and for them to be performing on grade level when they do so.
According to Gordon Odyssey Academy Director of Alternative Learning Programs Dr. Nathaniel Bryan, 100 percent of the students in the Star Academy in 2012 were able to make the leap back into traditional school for the start of their sophomore years.
This year the program will boast the first graduates from high school that once were Star Academy students.
Another program enjoying recent success is GOA’s evening high school program.
Students attending this program quite possibly would be on the verge of dropping out otherwise.
Bryan said that many of them have familial obligations that make it hard to attend school during a traditional school day. Instead, those students meet Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
With a mixture of online programming and in-person instruction from certified teachers, last year 100 percent of the seniors who participated graduated high school.
The online computer programming makes possible not only earning initial credits but also credit recovery.
It begins with a pretest and starts students working in areas they do not know rather than reviewing material they do know. That approach maximizes instruction time and also helps hold the students’ interest.
Bryan said the New Horizon Program, a behavior modification program, has a different goal than the punitive one many people assume it would have.
Instead of being an extension of the prison system, he said students who enter this program because of disciplinary reasons are given a clean slate and a second chance within the walls of GOA.
The faculty and staff focus on education and an on site behavioral interventionist and counselor work with the students to help them see the benefits to changing from destructive patterns of behavior.
Instead of expulsion, a student can attend GOA if they are approved by a student hearing committee.
“Perhaps a student’s problem with acting out was that they were trying to escape the academic demands that were beyond them,” Bryan said. “In a smaller environment where those needs are met we see behavior improve.”
The goal, according to Bryan, is providing field experiences and connections between the classroom and the real world in hopes that a new perspective can provide the inspiration and incentive for students to make positive changes.
“At GOA we define what love of a child really looks like (with the way we shape programming to fit our students’ needs), he said. “We strive to meet the needs of each individual student in our programs here and we continue to build upon our foundation.”