Three short years ago, Lanier High School began the transition from a standard high school to one with academies. This allowed and encouraged students to hone their talents and interests, incorporating what they love into their learning.
Dr. Kyle Jones, Lanier’s Academy Coach, explains that when the academy model was first implemented, he was most excited “to try all the crazy ideas.” A very large part of this was “finally acknowledging that not all kids are doing the same thing,” and that “there are very different needs coming in and out of high school.”
Dr. Jones proudly describes “the Lanier cluster as innovative and transformative.” He remembers that, at the beginning of this transformation, the school was taking a “turn toward considering what is really authentic about learning.” This is evident in the opportunities, understanding and guidance provided for Lanier’s students in their pursuit of an authentic education, whether they find that at the high school or elsewhere. Therefore, those who do not plan to follow a traditional college track still benefit from their four years of hard work, and college-bound students are more thoroughly prepared for the social and “adult” responsibilities that await.
Ethan Stokes, a junior at Lanier, says, “being a member of the orchestra academy helps me to develop and improve the style of my music through performing a wide variety of orchestral pieces.” Ethan’s ability to cater his education to his interests will be immensely helpful in his later musical endeavors. Similarly, students who find their place in colleges or technical schools are finally being validated and encouraged to pursue these types of educations to make the most of their high school experience.
Dr. Jones reports that “from the traditional metric of how schools are measured, it is undeniable that, since we’ve become an academy school, our test scores have increased, our graduation rates have increased, and our disciplinary panels have decreased.” However, he is far prouder of “the human story behind that” that has allowed “kids [to] get extraordinary opportunities and do authentic work.”