Great things are happening at Central Academy! Director/Principal Paula Sloan reports that last year, 24 at-risk students who could have chosen to drop out instead attended Central Academy and earned their high school diploma. That number was about 10% of the overall Tahlequah High School graduating class of 2015. Tahlequah Public Schools is proud to be one of the 273 alternative education programs in Oklahoma. Every school district in the state of Oklahoma must offer some form of alternative education. In fact, approximately 12,300 students were served in alternative programs throughout Oklahoma during 2014-2015. It can be a daily struggle to stay in school since these students face a variety of challenges which make them at-risk to drop out of school: pregnancy, social issues, low socio-economic background, previous grade retention, lack of a stable home environment, and/or lack of parental support are just a few of the many issues alterative students can face.
Students attending Central Academy spend the day in both onsite regular classrooms and in the computer lab working on an online curriculum. This blend of traditional teacher-led instruction and online courses fosters a positive environment in which students begin to see academic progress and success which motivates them to stay in school. Students also attend weekly Life Skills class instructed by THS Preventionist, Jyme Lowe. Students also have the opportunity to study Art with local Artist Renee Fite due to a grant awarded through the Oklahoma Arts Council.
There are several other programs at the Central site as well. One recognizable program is the Cherokee County Regimented Academic Program (CCREA), what is commonly known as Boot School. Command Sergeant Major Sams directs this program for court-ordered students. He creates a strict environment with a defined set of rules and procedures for his male and female cadets. The after school discipline program STAP (Short Term Alternative Placement) is another program located at the Central campus. The STAP program is an alternative educational setting for students placed there for disciplinary reasons. STAP runs in the afternoon from 3-6pm each week, Monday through Thursday.
Adult Basic Education (ABE) is also at the Central Campus. Students attend daily class and prepare to earn their High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma. Career Tech now oversees ABE and has helped implement new testing options for Oklahoma. Adult Basic Education still partners with Work Force as well, providing another location for patrons to earn their HSE. Anyone interested in earning their HSE should call Central and plan to attend morning classes at Central or afternoon classes at Work Force.
The Parent Education Program (PEP) is one more outstanding program offered at Central. Jessica Goodman, Family Support Provider and Homeless Liaison, is the program coordinator and she is assisted by Tracy Adams who helps part-time. This program is available for not only teen parents in the school system, but is also available to the community, free-of-charge, serving children and their parents from pre-natal to 36 months. This free program focuses on educating parents so they are the best first teacher a child can have. This supportive program is a great outreach to the young families and other children in the Tahlequah area.
Tahlequah Pubic Schools is committed to providing an educational opportunity for all students. Students who are determined to graduate despite all odds can certainly make that dream a reality. Their accomplishment begins with the decision to try. According to Booker T. Washington, “You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.”