New Charter School Aims To Serve Special Needs Students - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

New Charter School Aims To Serve Special Needs Students

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Genesis Academy serves students with special needs. If their condition is not severe enough to qualify for social services, their only option is to fend for themselves when they graduate from high school.

"They kind of just stop," Executive Director Terence Adams explained. "They're not going on to technical schools. They're not going on to college."

Terence Adams has a plan to change that.

"Instead of classrooms we'll have training rooms. Our students will be associates instead of called students. They'll enter through an employee entrance, clock in and clock out," Adams added.

He's one of a growing number of school leaders interested in opening a new charter school.

But unlike others, his school will be a job training program for high school students 17 to 22 years old. Eligible students would not have already graduated high school and would be in the program for no more than two years.

"There was a gap, a need in the amount of services the school system had for those kinds of students," Nashville Chamber of Commerce Chief Policy Officer Marc Hill said.

A gap highlighted in the Nashville Chamber of Commerce's annual education report card in 2009.

"We believe employers will step up to the plate and hire students who are truly prepared to be successful in the workplace," Hill explained, "but it takes a specialized set of experiences and skill to make sure students are ready."

A gap that Adams said his charter school would fill. It's one he expects will give more students a chance at success.

If approved, the new charter school would partner with 50 Forward to provide job coaches and Second Harvest Food Bank to provide students with employment opportunities.

First, Genesis Learning Center's charter application has to be approved by Metro Nashville Public Schools.


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