The Meridian Public School District is exploring a way to engage high school students and to facilitate graduation through hands-on learning.
The Board of Education approved the acceptance of a grant — contingent upon contract review — to implement a technology-based, hands-on program designed to reach students who have hit some obstacles in their past years of schooling. Board members voted unanimously in favor of the plan, pending legal review, at Monday evening’s regular meeting.
John Taylor, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, said that the program is called the Star Academy and that it comes with a grant of $1 million for a three-year term. He said the district’s application has already been accepted.
“It’s designed to be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) approach to dropout prevention,” Taylor said. “The program extends itself to those students who have disengaged or who otherwise would be potential dropouts.”


Berkeley County awarded “District of Distinction”

District Administrator honors 45 schools and systems with this year’s District of Distinction program.  These school districts have created homegrown initiatives to support students’ social-emotional development, to provide powerful new opportunities for career-focused STEM learning and to improve the skills of educators.
Recognized Impact: Since implementing STAR Academy, the Berkeley County school district’s graduation rate has risen from 67.3 percent to 83.5 percent. STAR Academy students miss an average of only 3.5 days per year, and their attendance has improved 62 percent by their grade 7 year. Discipline infractions have been reduced by 75 percent.

Star Academy acquired by NOLA Education, LLC

Pitsco sells Star Academy program.
NOLA Education takes on dropout intervention; Pitsco focuses on STEM, robotics
Fine-tuning its focus on hands-on STEM, robotics, and careers, Pitsco Education has sold its Star Academy program and core math and science curricula to NOLA Education, LLC, of New Orleans, LA. The move is strategic for both companies as they align with their areas of expertise to extend engaging hands-on education opportunities to more students across the country.

Governor Deal set to launch Berrien Program

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will help cut the ribbon on the Star Academy Program at Berrien Academy later in the month.
He is scheduled to visit the academy Tuesday, Oct. 31, according to an organizational press release.
Berrien Academy Principal Michele Garner said she is eager to welcome Deal and other dignitaries so they can see firsthand what she has already witnessed during the fall semester.
“We have been very successful with our students, and our attendance rates have gone up dramatically,” Garner said. “Our students are very engaged in what they’re doing, very interested. You’re not seeing students who are getting bored. They’re actively participating in their learning, and it’s just awesome to see.”



The Wayne County School District had their ribbon cutting for the new Star Academy. The main purpose of STAR Academy is to be a “drop-out prevention” and “catch-up” type program that will be implemented in fall of 2017.
Crystal Bates, curriculum director with the Wayne County School District, says the initiative will help students that have been previously retained in any grade level in their academic career, focusing on eighth grade students.  The academy is technology-driven, with no more than 20 students per class. “Hands-on, kinetic activity, strategies,” Bates said.  “Everything is technology driven, it is group-based, and it is all about collaboration with your peers.”


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