Acceleration Academies to open temporary site

·4 min read

Jan. 14—Students who have withdrawn from school or fallen through the cracks will soon have a new opportunity to earn an Ector County ISD high school diploma.

Acceleration Academies is setting up shop in Odessa the second week of February.

A temporary site will be on the sixth floor of the Prosperity Bank building, at 620 N. Grant Ave. in Odessa.

The permanent site is planned for 4245 N. Dixie Blvd.

Acceleration Academies President Mark Graves said the total number of students identified that could be served by the district is about 2,300. But there are 90 to 100 who could be transitioning to Acceleration Academies from the Community Outreach Center initially.

Acceleration Academies has hired AVID District Coordinator Virginia Hunt, known in ECISD as the AVID Lady. She has been with ECISD for 21 years in many capacities.

"Virginia's local knowledge of Ector County and the school district will serve us well as we launch the new program," Graves said in an email.

Hunt said a lot of the eligible students want to finish their high school diploma and may have already started paying for programs to finish out their education.

"This is available to our ECISD students for free," Hunt said.

"This is a great way for them to reengage. Once our school opens, we will definitely be reaching out to those students and try to see what we can do to help them meet their needs and their goals, because ultimately they are part of our community and we want our community to be successful," Hunt said.

Hunt is in the process of transitioning to Acceleration Academies from ECISD.

"... I will be leaving ECISD, however, Acceleration Academies is partnering with ECISD, so I'll still be working with ECISD, with ECISD students, with ECISD leaders and teachers and I'm still part of the Odessa community. I just will not be part of the AVID team," Hunt said. "It's not so much that the work has changed, more like my location because I'll still be working to get our students graduated, to get our students prepared for either college or career as they move forward."

"This is a new opportunity that ECISD brought in to be able to help our students who are 16 or 17 year olds, but because of life circumstances they are "actually adulting right now instead of being teenagers," Hunt said.

"They're having adult life responsibilities, and so when you have 16 and 17 year olds adulting it's very difficult to worry about tardies, very difficult to worry about chemistry homework when you're trying to get a job to feed your children ...," Hunt added.

Hunt said ECISD identified these students as needing something flexible and tailored to their individual needs.

"That's where Acceleration Academies comes in," she said. "I'm really excited to be part of this group. ... We want student success and they're able to provide it in a new and different way. ... It's brand new work for me ..."

Acceleration Academies is working on hiring staff members. Hunt said they are working on hiring a registrar, a life coach who will help with social-emotional learning, a career and technical education coach and math and reading content coaches.

Graves said Assistant Superintendent of Student and School Support Alicia Syverson made sure they understood there was a teacher shortage in West Texas, Midland and Odessa.

Graves said if they don't have a math content coach on the first day of school, for example, they will start the students on the other core courses that they need.

They will also use an online curriculum called Edmentum.

"We're working like gangbusters to get these positions filled. We're optimistic that we'll have all of those positions filled by the second week in February ...," Graves said.

Hunt said they are working to transition students from the Community Outreach Center to Acceleration Academies.

"It's a year-round program and students will either finish when they complete all their courses, or if they were to age out," Graves said. "Those are the only two reasons why they would be exited, or due to non-attendance. But ordinarily, we do our transcript evaluation of any new students, identify all of the outstanding courses that are needed for graduation, and then our students work one course at a time to complete those remaining credits to satisfy ECISD high school graduation requirements."

Graves stressed that this is not a comprehensive high school or an alternative school.

"This program is designed for students who have already withdrawn from school and it's also designed for students who are at risk of falling through the cracks," Graves said. "... We go out and find those kiddos that are disengaged from the school district and offer them this second chance for (a) more flexible, more personalized path to an ECISD high school diploma."

To learn more, or register, those interested can visit the national website academies.org, go to the Ector County tab and complete initial registration and paperwork.

The national phone number is 872-529-5115 and the local number is 432-286-7751, Graves said.

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