-Reaching the Summit - An alternative to alternative education

Most school systems, if not all, have an alternative school option for their students.  Some of these alternative schools are separate schools within the district, with a specific school code, its own principal, counselor, teachers, support staff, etc.  Other alternative schools function as a program of the high school, the middle school, or both.  

Here in Lumpkin County, we use the format of the latter to serve the needs of our students through what we’ve aptly named, Summit Academy.  

Summit is a non-traditional school for students in middle and high who have not been successful in the regular school environment, and it is in its second year of incorporation.  Research suggests that not all students perform well in a traditional school environment, yet the local school system is responsible for the outcome of all students.  

With the need identified, the LCSS created a program that addresses the varied learning styles of such students.

Many people hear the words “alternative school,” and they have a picture and an idea in their mind of troubled students in a strict, regimented environment.  We are very proud to break that stereotype here in the Lumpkin County School District, as we continue to be an innovator in the programs and practices we offer our students.

Led by veteran administrator, Dr. Libby Bicknell, Summit Academy is located just a tenth of a mile north of Lumpkin County High School and the Board of Education office.  With an enrollment of just under forty at the time of this article, Summit serves our students for a myriad of reasons.  

No matter the reason, all students at Summit Academy share the same goal—high school graduation.  Students who attend Summit Academy do so on recommendation from a team of educators—namely the administrators in the building, the counselors, and the teachers.  

When a student is struggling to be successful in the traditional school setting, this team convenes a meeting to determine appropriate interventions to address the underlying causes.  If a placement at Summit seems appropriate to address the concerns, the team makes the determination to transfer the student from the home school to this program.

As a program of both the middle and high schools, the faculty and staff of Summit work with the administration, counselors, and teachers at their students’ home school.  Students who attend Summit remain as a student at their home school, with all the supports in place that their classmates receive back at LCMS and LCHS.  

However, these students have the added bonus of a dedicated administrator, a dynamic and energetic teacher, Mr. Tanner Plemmons, and two of the hardest working, most patient and incredibly loving paraprofessionals, Mrs. Kim Grizzle and Mrs. Pamela Loggins.  

By incorporating team building and positive rewards into the Summit Academy program, Dr. Bicknell, Mr. Plemmons, Mrs. Grizzle and Mrs. Loggins focus on helping their students master content based on the Georgia Standards of Excellence all the while keeping the ultimate goal of high school graduation and post-secondary planning in the forefront.

Dr. Rob Brown, Superintendent of Schools, is proud of the work being done to ensure all students in Lumpkin County Schools are successful: “Dr. Bicknell continues to work with her staff to build an engaging environment with a successful outcome.  Last year, for the first time in our history of alternative education programs, every single senior at Summit Academy graduated from high school.  These students, who at one point didn’t see a high school diploma as a part of their future, are now productive members of our society.”  

The program offered at Summit Academy allows non-traditional students the opportunity to reach the summit of academic and social success, and is yet another innovative program right here in your local school district.


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