A new education center opened in Macon on Friday aimed at helping at-risk students earn their high school diplomas.
Provost Academy Georgia, a statewide charter high school district, held an open house at its Magic Johnson Bridgescape Center at 3902 Northside Drive, building D, in the Ashley Park Office Complex.
The free program is designed to help students 14 to 20 years old who have dropped out of school, are at risk for dropping out or for some reason did not receive diplomas.
Royel Hall, 18, filled out an application for the program Friday afternoon accompanied by his parents, Ralph and Barbara Hall.
Royel Hall graduated from Central High School in Macon, but no matter how many times he tried, he couldnt pass the final math test, so he could not get his diploma.
I made 193, and 197 a couple of times, said Hall, who was required to get a score of at least 200 to pass.
They only give you a certificate if you dont pass, said his mother, Barbara Hall. We are doing everything we can (to help him). You cant go to college until you get that diploma.
Unlike a traditional high school setting, the Magic Johnson center will offer online classes and one-on-one help from on-site teachers, said Monica Henson, the executive director of Provost Academy Georgia, which she explained is the same as being a superintendent.
Also, students are allowed to take classes in the morning or afternoon, which helps students who also are working. Classes will begin next week.
We are not here to take away kids from high school, Henson said. We are here for the kids that regular high school does not work for. ... What this program does, it provides them with a safe place and caring adults who are very well qualified to help them. And for a lot of at-risk students, home is not necessarily the quietest, safest, best place to study.
A number of laptop computers with headphones were sitting on tables lined up around one classroom at the center.
All of our curriculum has text to speech functionality, which makes it especially good for struggling readers who need that help, Henson said. They will be assisted ... by a team of Georgia certified teachers.
The center will have three full-time high school teachers, a special-education teacher and a guidance counselor. All except the guidance counselor has been hired, Henson said.
Lamonica Sanford is principal of the center. She has been a Social Studies teacher for about 10 years, she said, mostly in Baldwin County.
Provost Academy was approved by the Georgia Board of Education in June 2011, according to Louis Erste, charter schools division director.
The school is in the process of being certified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, Henson said.
We expect to be fully certified, she said.
The school is funded by state public money, but not any local taxes, Henson said. Former professional basketball star Magic Johnsons name is associated with the school for branding purposes. The Magic Johnson Foundation partners with Provost and offers college scholarships to qualified students, she said.
Other Magic Johnson Bridgescape Centers operate in Ohio, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Centers also are planned in Augusta and Savannah this year.