JPS Success Academy Update Given

Bret Apthorpe

The Jamestown Public Schools Success Academy, to be housed in the former Rogers Elementary School, is progressing, according to Superintendent Bret Apthorpe.

The building is currently undergoing roof replacement and additional upgrades. During a board of education meeting Tuesday, Apthorpe said the community around the future home of the Success Academy have taken notice to ongoing work.

Apthorpe said the district has started to look at examples from other districts who have created similar academies. Apthorpe said Jamestown was looking at examples in Ohio and New York City, among others.

The Success Academy will target students who have trouble attending school and focusing when they do attend class. Apthorpe has often attributed those students’ absences to trauma in their own household. The Success Academy will be implemented to help get those particular students back to school and then address their specific needs once they are there.

Apthorpe previously described the academy as being like a shopping mall, but instead of stores lined on either side of a hallway there will be resources for students to utilize. Social services, mental health providers, counselors, job training, mentors and clergy would be involved in offering help to students who are falling behind in school due to a traumatic event.

The program would be offered to students grades 5-12 as an additional pathway.

Apthorpe told the board the district has been reaching out to national models to better understand the inner makings and the protocols of a success academy. Additionally, he said the district needs to learn how to properly manage children when they return to school in a similar setting. He previously said the benefits from such an academy would allow students to seek professional help for the traumatic situations they might be facing at home while remaining in an academic setting.

There were more than 1,700 students in the 2017-18 school year who were chronically absent, Apthorpe said.

“Many (were chronically absent) due to the results of poverty, anxiety, stress and depression,” he said. “We need to really understand from a clinical perspective, once we get these kids back into school, how do we identify their needs, social, emotional and academic knowing that every child is going to be individual.”

Apthorpe emphasized that JPS has many resources and partnerships throughout the area to support the Success Academy. In his mind, Jamestown is already fit for a success academy, but noted that it needs to understand how to ensure its success.

“What we’re trying to learn is the protocol by which we work smoothly with one another,” he said.

Apthorpe said he wants to invite the surrounding community of the former Rogers school to see the progress in the near future.