Academy News

A New Milestone: Celebrating Our 1000th Grad

January 26, 2021
A New Milestone: Celebrating Our 1000th Grad Hero Image

For Immediate Release:

Port St. Lucie, FL – January 21, 2021 – Acceleration Academies, the national leader in re-engaging young adults not experiencing success in a traditional high school setting and providing a personalized academic program to help them earn a high school diploma, is proud to announce the graduation of its 1,000th student.

“Today a 22-year-old single mom became the 1,000th graduate of Acceleration Academies’ nationwide network of nontraditional high schools,” states Acceleration Academies’ Chief Education Officer, Dr. Margie Sharp. “It’s exciting to see that our personalized model and the social and emotional support that we offer to our students is truly helping them overcome challenging situations. We’re graduating at-risk and unenrolled students and giving them a foundation that creates more opportunities for them.”

Acceleration Academies was founded in 2014 to offer a different path for students who have faced academic challenges, social and emotional difficulties, and work and family responsibilities that don’t leave time for a standard school schedule. Utilizing a blend of individualized study and intensive one-on-one academic coaching and social/emotional support, the academies help young people reach a goal many had thought was out of reach.

One such student, Samantha Mendoza, became our 1,000th graduate when she received her high school diploma today at Fort Pierce Central High School along with 24 other Acceleration Academy students. These students were enrolled in our St. Lucie Academy, which opened in 2016 and is part of a national network that includes dropout reengagement programs in Martin, Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties in Florida. The St. Lucie Academy boasts approximately 200 graduates and 200 more students who are currently pursuing a highly personalized course of high school study.

Mendoza is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who has been juggling her studies, working as a cashier at the Garcia Grocery Store, Taqueria and Bakery, and caring for her 17-month-old son, Jael. She believes that returning to school was not just a way for her to build a better future for herself, but also for her son. “When he grows up, I want him to see that I have a high school diploma and that he can earn one, too,” she says.

“Representing Acceleration Academies as our 1,000th graduate couldn’t have happened to a better young woman,” says Paige Latham, Director of St. Lucie Acceleration Academy. “Samantha is the epitome of everything we stand for in terms of overcoming obstacles. She’s a perfect example of the kind of student that we want to help.”

Many Acceleration Academy students, like Mendoza, are age 19 or older, so they have missed the chance to graduate with their cohort. “They welcome the opportunity for a second chance,” says Dr. Sunny Booker, Director of Alternative Education for the St. Lucie County School District. “When Acceleration Academies partnered with our district, it allowed us to target older students, and those students who really need a flexible, respectful place to go,” says Booker. “They provide an environment where students’ time is respected, where people understand that these students’ day may not look like everybody else’s due to circumstances and sometimes decisions they cannot help.” She adds, “Our partnership with Acceleration Academies helps us engage students who missed the mark somewhere but recognize on their own that they really need to complete school.”

Mendoza becoming the 1,000th graduate represents a milestone for Acceleration Academies. “When we formed Acceleration Academies in 2014, our mission was to transform the way education is delivered, by partnering with school districts to graduate more at-risk or unenrolled high school students than any other program in the country,” stated co-founder and CEO Dr. Joseph Wise. “We couldn’t do this work without the trust of the school districts with which we partner and the community organizations that support our mission. Together we are truly making a difference in the lives of these young adults.”

Press Contact:

 Jeffrey Good

Director of Communications

Acceleration Academies


 About Acceleration Academies

Acceleration Academies is a nationally accredited, research-based community and school district partner helping young adults overcome real-life challenges to earn their high school diploma at no cost to the student or school district. By offering flexible scheduling, online courses, academic and social/emotional support services with an embedded restorative practices framework, Acceleration Academies is helping young adults get back on the path toward their high school diploma in order to reach their full potential.

 Acceleration Academies currently operates local Academies in partnership with the following school districts: Clark County School District (NV), Miami-Dade County (FL), Sarasota County (FL), St. Lucie County (FL), Martin County (FL), and the Bethel School District (WA).