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Academies in Action: Highlights from Our Academies

October 10, 2022 | Jeffrey Good
Academies in Action: Highlights from Our Academies Hero Image

Each month, we take a moment to learn from the educational leaders who bring the Acceleration Academies mission to life, day in and day out. This month, we asked our academy leaders to respond to this prompt: What was a highlight of the last three months at your academy?  Here is what they had to say.

In August, we celebrated our biggest in-person graduation ceremony to date. With 17 Bethel Acceleration Academies grads in attendance, we were able to celebrate with the School Board and grads from other programs. Among the highlights: Our very own Ariana Quituga was selected to lead graduates from all schools through the turning of the tassel, and Faith Goulding-Booth was able to have her 4-year-old son accept her diploma with her. She said, “I didn’t do this alone — he was with me every step of the way.”

— Alison Roseboro, Director, Bethel (WA)

It’s been a busy three months at Clark County Acceleration Academies. In August, we held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of our third academy, with Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara and educational leaders Eric Gant and Eric Smith helping to celebrate a trio of campuses serving 1,000 young learners. The next day, we feted 50 new grads, who are heading to post-secondary pathways including the College of Southern Nevada, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the United States Armed Forces.

— Wendy Thompson, Director, Clark County (NV)

At our grand opening ceremony in August, we not only had 30 school district and community leaders in attendance but also introduced our first group of EAA Ambassadors to greet guests and show them around. They even cut the ceremonial ribbon! One of our recent graduates, Mariah Arriaga, delivered the student perspective speech. She told local TV and newspaper reporters that she had almost given up hope but got her high school career back on track with help from the academy’s dedicated coaches, counselors and mentors.

— Virginia Hunt, Director, Ector County (TX)

Escambia County Acceleration Academies is going strong at our new location, which features an open floor plan, comfortable seating and room to either study quietly or in one-on-one and small group sessions. We have partnered with Ferry Pass Middle School to provide lunches, and are having fun with calendar “holidays” — for instance, on Sept. 30, we celebrated National Pancake Day and National Chocolate Milk Day by serving up pancakes and chocolate milk. We’ve also begun Military Mondays in which recruiters from various branches of the armed services come to discuss career paths.

— Mathew Taylor, Director, Escambia County (FL)

LAA has launched “Working/Wellness Wednesdays,” which provide graduation candidates the opportunity to hear from local business owners and leaders in the field to gain insights into possible career paths. In August and September, GCs met with professionals including a pastry chef, cosmetologist, merchant mariner, trainers from a local cosmetology institute and a local real estate agent. LAA also launched its Career and Technology Education website to provide information to GCs, parents, community partners and the public.

— Dr. Jacinta Bryant, Director, Lowcountry Acceleration Academy

Recently we celebrated a new graduate, Gemima Barreauny. At an early age Gemima became independent, taking care of herself. She took advantage of Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies’ personalized approach to not only attend to her personal challenges but also to finish her coursework ahead of pace. When Gemima encountered additional personal challenges, she refused to allow it to change her demeanor and work ethic, and found the strength in the guidance of GCA Nadiuski Sambrana and the MDAA team. We are very proud of each and every GC who enrolls with us and remains steadfast in pursuit of their high school diploma.

— Marcus Moore, Director, Miami-Dade (FL)

In August, Sarasota Acceleration Academies staff gathered at Suncoast Technical College to celebrate the graduation of 16 hard-working graduation candidates. It was not an easy road for our students to earn a high school diploma and they were not alone on their journey. Families, friends, district and SAA educators filled the room with cheers, balloons and support. Hearing their uplifting stories reminded us of how lucky we are to help these young people own their success.

— Michelle Llinas, Director, Sarasota (FL)

A year and a half in the making, the new St. Lucie Acceleration Academies site in Port St. Lucie is finally open. In our first week, we welcomed more than 60 GCs into our expansive space. It was great having so many young people walk through our doors again, although it did keep us on our toes. We can’t wait to help the young people of St. Lucie County build success in a space that truly follows the Acceleration Academies model of providing a comfortable, studious learning environment.

— Paige Latham, Director, St. Lucie (FL)

WAA recently started its “End of the Month” celebration to recognize GCs who are completing classes and staying on track, step by step, to graduation. Last month, we invited 63 GCs to participate. Although these incremental actions aren’t as glamorous as some achievements, we feel that the small steps toward success are commendable — and at WAA we strive to elevate them.

— Chris Turner, Director, Wichita (KS)