High school dropouts or students who aren’t comfortable in the typical classroom will have another way to work on a diploma this fall.
Online charter school Provost Academy is working with the Magic Johnson Bridgescape program to open a learning center in Augusta. The center will supplement Provost’s virtual school so students can get one-on-one help from teachers or use computers.
“In this day and age with technology, this is the trend that education is going towards,” said Jonathan Woods, the principal of the Augusta center set to open at 360 Bay Street in Olde Town in August. “Any option that you give a student to complete high school is one that’s needed.”
Provost Academy, which launched in Georgia in July 2012, has 1,126 high school students enrolled across the state and fewer than 40 in the Augusta area, according to executive director Monica Henson. The school hopes to run an aggressive recruitment campaign this summer to enroll 200 students in the Augusta center by fall.
Movers were bringing furniture, desks and computers to the Bridgescape center last week, where Woods will be joined by two content teachers, a guidance counselor, a special education teacher and a full-time security officer. The walls are being painted bright blue and green, and more than 30 Dell laptops have been set up in individual modules.
Though the school hopes to recruit 200 students, Woods said not all will use the center every day or all day. The workplace is there for when students want to drop in for an hour of extra help or spend an afternoon completing courses on the computer.
“We’re just excited,” he said. “We want to help those struggling kids and get them to graduation.”
Provost Academy is a tuition-free public school chartered by the state board of education, but it is centered on a computer-based curriculum that allows students to work at their own pace.
Virtual learning has gained traction as families look toward alternatives to traditional public school. It is often chosen by students who have to travel for sports or other hobbies or those unhappy in the classroom.
Georgia Connections Academy launched in 2011 with 700 students statewide and anticipates 3,000 for the 2013-14 year, according to Principal Heather Robinson.
Georgia Cyber Academy, the largest online charter school in the state, reached 12,000 students last year, a 2,000-student increase from the year before. The state department of education’s Georgia Virtual School has 20,000 students enrolled this year after launching in 2005.
Henson said Provost Academy students have individualized plans that fit their needs and abilities.
Provost’s curriculum is approved by the state department of education and has the same graduation requirements as traditional public schools.
Certified teachers hold live lectures that students can tune into or watch later in their living rooms, a coffee shop or elsewhere.
It also provides virtual tutoring sessions, but the Bridgescape center will serve as a meeting place where Augusta-area students can come in for live help.
Bridgescape has 15 centers in four states, and the Augusta site will be Provost’s fourth partnership with Bridgescape in Georgia.
“We have a lot of different types of kids,” Henson said. “The one thing they have in common is something is making them a square peg that’s not fitting into the round hole of local public high schools.”