Updated 06/15/2012 05:48 PM
Albany High School nears end of first year with new academies
Albany High is nearing the end of its first year using a new academy-style teaching approach. As YNN's Lori Chung reports, in a school where only about half of the students graduate, students and educators have high hopes for the new system.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- “This school has a completely different feel to it in terms of just walking in the hallways and the way the kids look in their morale towards education,” said senior Wesley Pluviose-Philip.
It's an assessment that school district officials are eager to hear: Albany High School students excited about their studies.
“We’re really thinking out of the box and going at these students from every angle we can,” said Julie Barber, Innovation Academy principal.
Innovation is one of four smaller learning communities that now make up the school, each with its own theme. The new system is nearing the end of its first year as the school struggles with a 52 percent graduation rate. Here, getting more kids to graduate starts early, with special attention on incoming ninth-graders whose success rate mirrors the number of students that ultimately earn a diploma.
“The academy structure has really allowed us to keep an eye on our freshmen," said Cecily Wilson, Leadership Academy principal. "When they come down the hall, their classrooms are centered around one particular hallway. So, for English, social studies, [and] science, I know I’m going to see my freshmen and they know they’re going to see me.”
Struggling freshmen now also get more attention. Students are no longer allowed to linger in the halls. There is also customized curriculum tailored for each academy.
"It’s more structured and I do enjoy that," said Amal Hechehouche.
Graduating seniors like Hechehouche say there is help here for students who want it. The hope? That more of them make that choice.
“Because of all the people that are here and are willing to push you into new things, there’s so much to do," said Hechehouche.
Another part of this effort includes professional development for teachers. Administrators say they're getting new strategies to reach out to struggling students. All told though they say that this is a process and it may be awhile before there are measurable improvements.