The Success Academy Could Bring About Substantial Change

Anyone who wondered how much importance Jamestown superintendent Bret Apthorpe places on the new Jamestown Public Schools Success Academy had had their questions answered last week.

Last week, Apthorpe said that Dr. Mike McElrath will be moved from his post as Jamestown High School principal to principal of the new academy. The move takes effect July 1.

The Success Academy is scheduled to open in September in the former Rogers Elementary School and will be used by Jamestown High School students who are interested in enrolling in career technical education course work and project-based classes. The academy will also host Jamestown middle and high school students who may need extra help academically, socially or emotionally and house local community organizations to help students with any needs to ensure they return to their classrooms ready to learn.

The elevation of McElrath is eye-catching, in part because the role of Jamestown High School principal is a challenging one. The high school has a host of academic programs to oversee, disciplinary and safety issues that don’t tend to crop up in other schools within the district, and has had persistent issues with graduation and dropout rates. Jamestown High School is a place where one would think the district would put one of its most talented administrators.

It is saying something, then, that Apthorpe is tapping one of his best administrators for the Success Academy. The superintendent is saying, in no uncertain terms, that he views the Success Academy as something that could bring substantial change in the educational success of hundreds of Jamestown Public Schools students each year who otherwise could continue to struggle. He’s also saying it is easier to find a new high school principal, despite the job’s many challenges, than it is to find an administrator to translate Apthorpe’s vision of the Success Academy into reality.

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