By Joseph Pratt
Just as there isn’t one answer for every problem in the world, not every student fits into the traditional mold of the education structure, but it doesn’t mean these students cannot succeed. The Southern Ohio Academy (SOA) has a proven track record of success with graduating students with high scores who were once considered at risk in the traditional school environment. SOA will be continuing its work and opening its doors and welcoming students for an orientation soon.
“SOA is a newer charter school option for the nontraditional student who might need extra assistance or a different type of environment to succeed,” Executive Director of SOA Pat Ciraso explained. “These students are those who might have been unable to connect with the traditional school program. We have been able to work with students and their parents to help them proceed towards a traditional high school diploma, which is the very same any other graduate receives.”
The charter school is sponsored through the Scioto Career and Technical Center and has a partnership with every area school, with the exception of Portsmouth City. This partnership is a strong one, according to Ciraso, and was forged to provide the best opportunities for individual students in the county who were in danger of not graduating.
The school is a hybrid between online and classroom studies, where 80 percent of work is expected to be done online and twenty in the classroom.
“We do this, because many of these students have problems with making it to school, but can complete most of their class work, if given the opportunity,” Ciraso explained. “We do require them to be in the classroom one day a week, though. Of course, the doors are open as many days a week that they want to come in and receive help from a licensed teacher.”
Ciraso said that the program was proven a success with recent numbers coming in at a 84 percent passing rate, which means of all the classes students take, 84 percent of them are passed.
“For an online school, that is remarkable,” Ciraso said. “I’ve been told by people from the Ohio Department of Education that typical online school passing rates are around 38 to 40 percent.”
Ciraso said that the school is not an easy out for students and few actually return to their home districts, because of the inability to juggle coursework at home and complete it all outside of an actual classroom.
She also said that while the SOA might be what some students need, she always encourages students to greatly consider their final option, because they also lose out on many opportunities a brick and mortar school provides, from a greater sense of community, extracurricular activities, and sports.
Southern Ohio Academy will hold orientation for current students Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. New student orientation will be held Wednesday, Sept.16, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. A parent or guardian, as well as the student, are all required to attend one of the sessions. They will be provided the required scheduled days of attendance at the meeting.
A Title I meeting for parents and guardians will be held at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on both orientation days to discuss information with regard to the school’s Title I program. SOA will also receive input on how to better serve students.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.