Former Elementary School To House Future Success Academy
Closed in 2012 due to low enrollment, the former Rogers Elementary School building in Jamestown will be reborn next fall in the form of the Success Academy with endless possibilities.
Superintendent Bret Apthorpe has frequently discussed district plans to reopen the building primarily to address traumatized students and help reduce chronic absenteeism, but the plans are much more grandiose.
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. Agencies like social services, mental health providers, counselors, job training, mentors and clergy would possibly be involved in offering help to students who are falling behind in school due to traumatic events. The programs would be offered to students in grades five through 12 as an additional pathway to address chronic absenteeism in the district.
But the aspect of child services in the building to address trauma and absenteeism is only one facet of a much larger project. Another aspect of the Success Academy is the ability to offer additional career and technical education (CTE) courses. Also, remnants of Rogers Elementary School will return as well with pre-kindergarten classes being offered next fall.
“It will be a balance of pre-kindergarten classes, CTE courses and these students who need these services to get back into school,” Apthorpe said. “(Students) who need these (trauma-related) services will also be taking CTE courses.”
Mike McElrath, Jamestown High School principal, said the district is discussing different courses and programs that could possibly be offered within the building. Completing multiple CTE courses adds a specific endorsement on a student’s diploma. Also, if a certain number of CTE courses are completed, the credits can take the place of one regents exam.
“(The Success Academy) will start small and grow from there. I’ve toured through there a few times, it’s exciting,” McElrath said. “It’s going to take some work to get where it needs to be, but there are good opportunities for our students there.”
The district already offers various CTE courses within the business and technology departments. Keeping in line with the academy style of the high school, McElrath said the addition of more CTE courses could help lead students to career paths outside of school during their education at Jamestown.
“Currently, we know we have to build toward meeting the demands of our local labor market,” McElrath said.
The district is currently looking at offering new CTE courses to be implemented at the revitalized building by next fall. All CTE courses have to be approved by New York state before implementation. Additionally, the district is looking into implementing entire CTE programs. However, McElrath noted that getting approval from the state for an entire program is a longer process that will likely not be ready by fall.
Apthorpe said with the reopening there will be no need for adding employees to the district other than custodial staff in order to maintain the building. He said the district is already staffed for the current number of enrollment.
During a recent tour of the mostly empty facility, Tina Sandstrom, chief director of schools, and Cathy Panebianco, communications coordinator, discussed the wide range of potential for the building. Sandstrom walked through empty spaces, soon to be filled with desks and students, detailing potential plans being discussed within the district.
Sandstrom said a large area on the second floor could possibly be used for project based learning for CTE courses in the area that was used as a library for elementary students. On the first floor, a wide variety of options for instruction were discussed by the district officials. Sandstrom said the rooms that are connected by an open doorway could be used in cross-curricular classes for math and technology. In rooms that are linked by an additional observation room, pre-teaching courses could be utilized to watch how a pre-kindergarten class operates. Other areas of the building could be used for healthcare, business or manufacturing courses.
While none of the courses have yet to be officially approved, one thing was clear: there is a multitude of possibilities for students to succeed at the Success Academy.