New opportunities are helping at risk youth, as year round classes help students graduate.
When 17 year old Koran Blackman was at his old school, Bonnabel Magnet Academy High in Kenner, he was known for being in the popular crowd. He insists he is not trying to sound big headed, “But when I said something at school, it was a movement,”
Blackman was repeatedly expelled, for skipping class and general rabble rousing. One of his teachers was concerned because of his loss of focus, and connected him with the curriculum director at Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy. He’s been there for xis months, and says he hasn’t been getting into trouble.
While most public schools are out on summer break, lessons continue at Jefferson Chamber this month for students like Blackman. The year-round high school, where classwork is largely done by computer, is designed for students who haven’t excelled at conventional schools and want help recovering course credits.
Students “have to be independent. They have to be motivated. You can’t just come to school and sit in front of the computer, because you aren’t going to make any progress,” Executive Director Millie Harris said.
Founded by the non-profit arm of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the school opened in 2010 with the aim of providing a self-paced, individualized curriculum for students who otherwise would drop out. It was the second charter school in Jefferson Parish, outliving the now-closed alternative middle school, the Jefferson
Harris, who has background in fundraising, was part of a team that studied alternative schools in Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere. They also looked at the Lafayette Charter High School, an alternative school with a high graduation rate.